Originally written by me for socialfish.org
I wrote earlier this year about the lack of awareness of the purpose of associations by my fellow Millenials. In that article, I talk about the ways that Millenials adapt to the times by creating their own paths, adopting a DYI attitude. I attributed this to the event that I called “the advent of utilitarian social media sites” which, in hindsight, is sort of silly because if you put anything to use, it is utilitarian – but I digress!
I recently discovered an emerging New York City community/organization called The Office Hero League that seems to be providing the same value to the members of their community that an association would provide. Their push and call for community is starting out as a digital campaign, and then bringing people together in person in order to strengthen the community.
I believe associations and other organizations, or even a group of erstwhile unaffiliated individuals can learn a lot about modern community building strategies and tactics from Office Heroes,
Office Heroes is an organization that came to exist after the founders saw that there was a paucity of community for Office Managers and Administrative Assistants specifically in New York – even though practically every company in New York has some sort of Office Manager or Administrative Assistant. Upon realizing that there wasn’t an apparent vocation-based association that was working to provide any sort of support for these Office Managers/Administrative Assistants, the Office Heroes founders-turned-organizers saw the need to create a hub where innovative services and tools could be shared to make the very tedious, and complicated time-consuming tasks related to Office Management streamlined. Sounds a lot like the value and purpose of an association, doesn’t it?
So, they found companies that existed to help streamline these tasks and made them partners:
TaskRabbit: a website that specializes in finding the right person, locally, to help one “get stuff done” – which TaskRabbit says can mean pretty much anything, errands… picking up lunch for the office… reserving a space for some event. Anything.
H.Bloom: a flower delivery and arranging service providing high-end collections of arrangements crafted by “expert designers”.
LiquidSpace: these folks specialize in helping people to find and rent workspaces. You choose where you want to work, book and confirm and then use your rented workspace.
Cater2.me: experts working to help plan catered events for businesses or organizations. Cater2.me curates and schedules meals and currently serves big names like Adobe, Eventbrite and Dropbox.
The Fruit Guys: As you might expect, this company delivers fresh fruit to your home or office.
I was able to reach out and talk to Addie Stuber, an Office Hero League Organizer, to learn a bit about the motivations for creating the community/unofficial association:
She discusses the philosophy behind creating Office Heroes,
“In the past, assistant or administrative positions were viewed as jobs that entailed simple tasks like filing or typing. Now, the role has taken on more dynamic implications. These people must utilize higher level thinking skills and apply them to everything from organizing bi-coastal webinars to ensuring the security of classified documents.
Thus, there needs to be a shift in responsibility. By delegating routine duties like ordering lunch or running errands to other resources, they free up more time to tackle more pressing responsibilities and keep their offices running at an optimal level.
This group is about networking but it is also rooted in appreciation. Office Managers are the backbone that keeps everyone else running. We want to recognize the fact that they ‘save their team’ on a daily basis. Our current invite says, ’You are already a hero.’ It is true. We are just bringing the idea into the forefront by giving it an official name”
The Office Hero League is hosting their first event soon, a meetup in Manhattan on October 18th – bringing in presenters and sponsors, The Fruit Guys to discuss the nature of being in an Office Management position and discussing the opportunities now being made available to these professionals.
What isn’t there to like about this initiative? The Office Heroes organizations identified a problem, developed a plan for a community, ascertained what would be needed to add value to people working in this vocation and grabbed web/tech savvy partners and voila… almost overnight. Embracing the power of digital marketing, this “post-association community” has suddenly provided a previously unavailable resource to a huge community of professionals, and they did it quickly! It’s guerilla. There was no pre-supposed notion of how their group should be run – there were no hoops to jump through – no organizational bureaucracy,they had autonomy; they had the support of each other’s talents and not just a ‘recognized name’ that ‘lends authority’ to the effort that some associations try to impress upon their members. The Office Hero League is an example, this example underlines this important attribute set that will define the success of future organizations: mobility, adaptability and flexibility.
What can your association or organization do to harness the power and momentum of these kinds of guerilla solutions? I hope I’ve given you a good starting point and example.
If you want to contact The Office Hero League, feel free to contact Addie Stuber (firstname.lastname@example.org) – and if you’re in/around/going to New York in the next couple of days – you can join the Office Hero League or RSVP to their first event via their Meetup page.