How to Keep Your Restaurant Back Office Organized

How to Keep Your Restaurant Back Office Organized
AJ Beltis

By AJ Beltis

Papers. Clutter. Wires. Clipboards. That crumb-covered plate from your lunch that you haven’t had a chance to get rid of yet.


This is the restaurant back office in its natural state – but not at all at its finest.

Even though the practice of restaurant management continues to move digital, the physical space of your restaurant back office still needs to be organized. Otherwise, what should be your sanctuary for efficiency and escaping from the haywire on the floor does not deliver on its potential.


Put simply, a disorganized restaurant back office can easily turn into a disorganized restaurant.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through best practices for organizing your back office, reducing unnecessary clutter, and preserving your office as a place of efficiency.


The Benefits of an Organized Restaurant Back Office

Did you know that you can increase your time management by 38% by just using the right organizational tools?


Taking the time to set up a restaurant organizational system is an investment – but it’s one that will certainly pay off in the form of more efficiency. Here are some reasons why you may want to carve some time out in your schedule to reorganize your working space.


Save Time At Work

In a role where a 40-hour workweek is a bad punchline, getting any time back to yourself is a victory. With your back office organized, you’ll reduce the amount of time you spend looking for documentation or resources you might need so you can maybe, just maybe, leave on time for the night.


This benefit is especially true for employment records, as not having ready access to them can cost you time and money–particularly for restaurants required to abide by fair workweek laws.

Limit Physical Clutter

One in five workers admit that a messy desk adds to their workload, so take the initiative to remove this barrier to productivity. With a more organized office, your information is stored in specific locations (or online), reducing the amount of unorganized documentation lying around.


Set a Good Example For Employees

Take a look at your office and ask yourself a couple questions.

  1. If you needed to call in an employee to have a conversation, would you be embarrassed by the way your office looks?
  2. Would you be happy if your employees organized their work stations like you have your office organized?

If you answer to question #1 is yes, and question #2 is no, you’re not embodying the behaviors you expect from your staff, who in turn interact with your customers. Modeling appropriate leadership and behavior can start with something as simple as a tidy back office.


Organizing Your Documents

Some papers and documents need to be kept as physical copies in your restaurant back office. While you should try to go digital wherever you can, here are some quick tips for organizing what needs to be in your office.


Create a Filing System

Many of your documents are likely online (or stored on your computer) at this point, but for those that aren’ t(or can’ be), set up and stick to a filing system.


Whether in desk drawers, paper trays, and/or a filing cabinet, your documents should be stored in specific places to avoid those wasted minutes of flipping through papers, asking yourself “where is it?”


Some criteria you can base your filing system off of include:


Confidential, private documents (in a locked drawer) vs. insensitive documents that need easier access (in unlocked drawers or paper trays).

  • Incomplete documents that need attending to (on the top shelf of your paper tray) vs. those that are complete and need to be filed (on the bottom shelf of your paper tray).
  • Document purpose, such as training materials, finance & accounting, scheduling, legal & compliance, mail and bills, etc.


Don’t have the budget for any filing products? Check out this article on Lifehack for DIY tips for how to cheaply save space and organize content in your back office.


Use an Organization Station


Installing a desk supplies holder can help you avoid those routine missing pen fiascos by having a place for your office materials. If you don’t already have one, they’re effective and pretty affordable.


For example, you can get this one on Amazon for around $25, and it even has built-in trays and file holders alongside its slots for pens, calculators, and sticky notes. A simple station like this can help keep your back office organized–and keep you efficient.

Don’t Forget to Clean!

We know–you don’t have enough time as it is, but don’t reverse the progress you’ve made so far. No need for an hourly deep clean of your entire office–just hold yourself accountable for reducing build-up where it’s not needed. Doing a daily Clorox wipe of your desk and a weekly floor sweep should do the trick.


By extension, these regular tidy-ups can help you pinpoint and get rid of things in your office that you just don’t need anymore, like papers that can be recycled or those that need proper filing.


How to Take Your Back Office Online

One of the most effective ways to reduce the paper and clutter in your office is moving as many elements of your job as you can online.


If you’re bogged down by the stacks of paper in your office, look into digitizing your documentation of these common tasks.


Scheduling

While the restaurant schedule might traditionally be found pinned to the office wall–either as a printed spreadsheet or a poorly-erased whiteboard–there are numerous benefits to moving this crucial element of restaurant management online:

  • It clears up your office. Fitting the theme of this article, going paperless on your schedules removes yet another unnecessary element from your back office. Moving schedules online also eliminates the distraction of employees who come into your office just to check the schedule.
  • It documents employee hours online. To ensure the accuracy of your paychecks and your compliance with local labor laws, online documentation of hours worked streamlines yet another element of your job. Proper documentation is imperative if your municipality requires its keeping, either temporarily or permanently.
  • It saves time scheduling. Rather than responding to knocks of employees who have a gripe with their schedule or need to take time off during a shift, electronic scheduling allows employees to swap shifts on their own time by using the online scheduling tool.


Featured Resource: 7shifts Employee Scheduling. To eliminate the constraints of physical scheduling, we recommend 7shifts employee scheduling software to create an interactive, electronic, and time-saving scheduling experience for you and your employees.


Manager Log Book


If you put your manager log book down on your desk, you run the risk of it becoming another forgotten element in your back office.

By recording your log book notes digitally, you can use whatever device–tablet, phone, or computer–is most convenient for you at the time. Notes like self-reminders, customer complaints, maintenance requests, or moments of staff excellence can be documented and referenced down the line.

Digital manager log books are also ideal for restaurants with multiple managers who can access notes on the shift and staff communally so that nothing goes unnoticed.


Featured Resource: Online Manager Log Book Software. Get a free trial of 7shifts’ manager log book tool to discover how well you’ll draw conclusions and determine action items from interactions with staff and customers alongside real-time sales data.

Task Management Documents

Typically adjudicated with a checklist on a clipboard, restaurant task management requires a balance of both ongoing and time-sensitive duties in your restaurant–and the last place you want to keep your task completion documentation is on a paper that’s doomed to be lost in your back office.


Not only does automating task management eliminate one more sheet of paper produced daily, it makes the task completion process more collaborative by allowing staff to be made aware of their tasks each shift.

Featured Resource: 7tasks Task Management Software. No more dated checklists collecting dust in your office. 7tasks is the ideal tool to assign tasks to staff, alert them of their responsibilities, and hold them accountable. Since it’s all done online, you won’t need to worry about a stack of assignment sheets growing day-over-day on your desk.


Reporting

Binders of printed-out labor and finance reports add bulk to your back office. Moving your reporting onto a digital landscape preserves the sensitivity of these metrics while making them more accessible to the right eyes. This is another situation where back office decluttering can help you adhere to labor compliance laws if employee records must be temporarily or permanently kept.


Featured Resource: Restaurant Reporting Software. Cloud-based reporting clears up space in your office and your hard drive, while ensuring proper storage of the records you need to stay compliant and track year-over-year sales and labor trends for your restaurant.

Getting (and Keeping) Your Restaurant Back Office Organized


Between training staff, delighting guests, and keeping costs down, restaurant office organization is probably at the bottom of your totem pole. However, a well-organized office is all but guaranteed to help you complete these aforementioned tasks–and more. With an organized office, you’ll know where your staff training materials are, how to log guest interactions, and where to access your sales and financial data so that you can get to all of these tasks easier, giving you more time to focus on the work that needs your attention the most.


If you’re serious about reducing the clutter in your back office, take a look at these space-saving and time-saving restaurant management solutions.

Restaurant Scheduling Software
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AJ Beltis
AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis is a freelance writer with almost a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. He currently works as a content specialist at HubSpot, and previously as a blogger at Toast.