Office and Admin Work Relationships

Top Challenges Faced by Administrative Assistants

Written by Eric Titner

Here’s the bottom line—great administrative assistants can be effective, invaluable employees in whatever work settings they find themselves in.

Why? Because they’re aware of the most common challenges that they’ll likely face at work and come equipped with the tools needed to overcome them. Here are the 12 challenges that administrative assistants often face.

Administrative assistants are no strangers to difficult personalities. From tough bosses to prickly coworkers and touchy clients and everyone in between, good assistants can survive any personality crisis—while great assistants conquer and thrive by using their cool heads and witty charm. Another hurdle is dealing with the perception that this is a low-level position. The truth is, administrative assistants are often experienced, highly capable professionals who sometimes have to fight for the respect they deserve. Just because they are often expected to clean up other people’s messes around the office (another challenge), doesn’t mean they’re only capable of throwing out the garbage.

Administrative assistants also have to face the perception that they exist to fix any office problem that arises under the sun. Leaky faucet? Broken copier? Roaches in the office kitchen? A great assistant often has to face the fact that their bosses might rely on them for every little thing. This also includes three other hurdles—being expected to know everything—even small details of conversations they aren’t part of, being blamed for anything that goes wrong, and always being expected to be available. A great administrative assistant knows that he or she will likely have to deal with and overcome these hurdles, while showing grace under pressure.

Another result of being an indispensible “go-to” person around the office is the expectation that coworkers and bosses can go to you for help at any time. This means that their privacy is often encroached upon and their desks are often used freely by all manner of office traffic. These two hurdles can be tough to deal with, but great administrative assistants figure out strategic ways for handling these in stride.

When the work piles up, administrative assistants are often expected to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done.This often means forgoing things like lunch breaks or afternoon stretches. When you’re stuck at your desk, a lack of physical activity can be a real challenge, but a worthy administrative assistant can figure it out. Furthermore, the level of public exposure and involvement administrative assistants often have around the office sometimes means that they’re the butt of office jokes, underappreciated, and underpaid—all tough challenges that great administrative assistants find a way around or through.

Get to know these 12 common hurdles, be prepared, overcome them, and be the killer administrative assistant that your boss dreams about.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.