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An office assistant/receptionist is typically responsible for front office duties in a business or organization. The receptionist usually controls access to the office by greeting guests, notifying employees of visitors and working with delivery people and contractors. In addition, the office assistant may be responsible for a number of office administration tasks such as managing spreadsheets, correspondence and ordering office supplies. Depending on the size of the organization and the number of employees that it has, the office assistant/receptionist may also act as a personal or administrative assistant to one or more of a company's executives or managers.
While many offices now rely on voice mail systems to answer phones and route callers to the pertinent worker, many still employ an office assistant/receptionist to manage the phone system and to speak to callers who are having difficulty using it. Receptionists also perform the task overseeing the reception area, also known as the waiting area or room, into which visitors usually enter. A traditional office assistant/receptionist will typically take responsibility of making sure that a visitor is announced to the people whom he or she is visiting or, if the visitor is a delivery person, the receptionist will usually sign for packages and let recipients know of their arrival. An office assistant/receptionist may also be responsible for informing "walk-in" customers about a company's services and may also schedule appointments between clients and employees.
Businesses with a relatively small office support staff may require an office assistant/receptionist to assume other roles within the company. In a very small organization, or one with a very frugal budget, the receptionist may also serve as an office manager. He or she may be responsible for ensuring that the office functions well by restocking supplies and monitoring the performance of office machines, such as copiers, fax machines and even computers. The office assistant/receptionist with these responsibilities will typically contact and work with repair professionals as well as other contractors who may need to perform work on the office space or building. Other common responsibilities include event planning, travel scheduling and, in some cases, managing general office communications, such as notifications about holidays, special events and safety considerations.
The qualifications to become an office assistant vary according to the skills necessary to assume a position within a particular company. In many cases, office workers can gain their skills on the job or complete a vocational training program that provides them with a basic understanding of office administration procedures. Other options include taking continuing and adult education classes in various software packages, business writing and communication and protocol.