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Technology – Making Your Job Easier

Over the last few years, technology has had, and continues to have, an enormous impact on our working lives. These days, whatever you need to do and however you need to organise yourself (and your manager) you can find the perfect tool to help you. From new hardware to the latest software to the ever-increasing number of apps, there’s something for everyone.

In our recent Today’s PA survey, we asked which piece of hardware or software, which apps or online tools have helped PAs in their day-to-day work and (hopefully) made their life easier. We had an amazing response.


Unsurprisingly, smartphones, tablets, and laptops came out on top. There is no doubt that these have made a world of difference to PAs’ lives and revolutionised the way we work. Having a range of lightweight portable devices, combined with remote access to our works files and folders has enabled us send emails, update To Do lists, write documents, edit spreadsheets, and check calendars – whether we’re at home, on the commute, or on the other side of the world.

Other “must-haves” highlighted by our respondents included:

  • Monitors (having more than one monitor gives you the ability to view two or three programs simultaneously, making split screens a thing of the past).
  • Scanners (especially the “scan to email” facility).
  • Smart/cordless headphones for videoconference calls.
  • A phone headset (so we can type and talk in comfort).
  • A decent printer!

One PA who used Siri at work found that the ability to speak a command rather than typing it was an extremely useful and time-saving option. While we’re not aware of the widespread use of voice-activated hardware in offices, it could become an interesting trend …

Software/Apps/Online Tools:

It’s no surprise to anyone (certainly not to us) that Microsoft Office/Office 365 – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – is extremely popular, with Outlook coming in for the greatest praise. Most of our PAs said Outlook (whether for emails, task lists, or the calendar) was the one piece of software they could not manage without. Over the years Outlook has changed significantly, being continually refined and developed. Its range of functions including the ability to automate tasks, set reminders, compare calendars, schedule meetings (and sync with OneNote) as well as sending emails, now makes it the perfect office assistant.

Other popular answers (in no particular order) were:

  • In-house and bespoke software, applicable to work of the organisation.
  • Dropbox, Google Drive, Share Point (ensuring everyone has access to the most recent version of agendas, reports, schedules, etc. No more out of date documents flying around the organisation!)
  • Skype and videoconferencing apps for virtual meetings.
  • Messaging apps (Jabber, WhatsApp, Skype).
  • Project Management and collaboration tools (Wunderlist, Trello, Smartsheets).
  • OneNote (for making notes, keeping file copies of documents, and tracking activities on different projects).
  • Microsoft Visio (for producing flowcharts, floor plans and diagrams) and the range of Adobe tools (such as Acrobat and InDesign).
  • Tools for tracking expenses (such as Expensify).
  • Tripit, Skyscanner, Google Maps and similar for booking travel and hotels – and giving directions!

We know that our survey is only a brief glimpse at the way PAs use technology, and that the true extent to which we use it is dependent on one outside factor: our manager. A few of our respondents said that they didn’t use much office technology as their boss struggled with it, preferring to stick with pen and paper. If this is what your boss is comfortable with, you need to adapt to fit in with them … whilst using all available apps and tools to organise your own day.

Office technology has come a long way in a short time and is now the single biggest influence on our working lives. It’s safe to say that our PAs are not afraid of trying new apps and software to see what works best for them. Programs such as Outlook are becoming more sophisticated with each new release. And as technology develops, the way we use it will develop, too. When we come to analyse the results of our twentieth annual Today’s PA survey, it will be interesting to look back at how much has changed.

PAul Pennant,

MD and Principal Trainer
Today’s PA

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