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We recommend you choose the online learning method as all online courses provide access to download course notes to access offline or print. If you do require your course to be supplied on USB stick then please contact us first to check availability for your country.

Office Practices

Course CodeVBS102
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn about Office Practices - this course will provide you with practical office skills and techniques that can be applied directly on the job.

  • Office Practices provides a valuable basis of study either for those setting up a small office or as a starting point for candidates seeking an administrative, secretarial or reception job.
  • Learn about how an office works - from the physical layout, to internal and external communications.
  • Understand the different forms of communicating effectively within an office environment.
  • Learn about the approaches to dealing with clients.
  • Learn about managing records and data.
  • Learn about office layouts, processes and equipment.
  • Study traditional office practices and the options and impact of IT systems.
  • What types of equipment are most appropriate? The course provides clear and concise explanations in such areas as the operation of email and the internet, types of computer equipment and hardware.
  • Know what types of equipment are suitable for different applications and why.
  • Study by distance learning with the support and guidance of our highly experienced tutors.

Employers want candidates who have skills and knowledge they can apply. Learn about the basics of how offices operate and this will provide you with the ability to be a valued resource in an office role.

Having a good general idea as to idea of how offices work and what kind of tasks are completed in an office, you will be able to easily slip into a position and grow on your knowledge with your new employer's culture.

As ACS courses offer flexibility, you can study in your own time, start the course when you need to and study at your own pace.

  • If you are new or returning to study, don't worry, our highly qualified and experienced tutors are there to support you every step of the way.
  • Course duration: 100 hours of self paced study.
  • Start date: Our courses are available to start at any time.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. The Modern Office
    • The Scope and Nature of Office Work
    • Where to Work
    • Office Equipment
    • Information Technology
    • Office Processes
  2. Communication Systems
    • Common Office Communication Systems
    • Electronic Communications
    • Communication Networks
    • Electronic Mail
  3. Interpersonal Communications
    • Kinds of Communication
    • Effective Communication
    • Becoming an Effective Communicator
    • The Communication Process
    • Email and Electronic Communication
    • Communicating with Clients
    • Giving and Receiving Instructions
  4. Phone Skills
    • Telephone Techniques
    • Telephone Answering When You Are Not There
  5. Writing Letters and Other Documents
    • Office Stationary
    • Good Business Writing
    • Memoranda
    • Business Letters
    • Business Reports
    • Editing and Proofreading
  6. Computer Applications
    • Computer Applications in the Office
    • Types of Computer
    • Software
    • Computer Specifications
    • Viruses
    • Optical Drives
    • Peripherals
  7. Office Organisation and Procedures
    • Organising Data
    • Record Keeping
    • Organising Office Space
    • Organising Work
  8. Health and Safety in the Office
    • Power Leads and Outlets
    • Using VDU Equipment
    • Lifting and Manual Handling
    • Fatigue in the Workplace
    • Stress Management
    • Office Security and Legal Constraints
    • Legal Risks

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Determine the upper and lower limit of what it might be likely to cost you to set up a new office.
  • Determine the price range of different items of equipment and materials.
  • Explain postal systems used in a business, Design a memorandum form.
  • Create a MS Access Database
  • Design a filing system.
  • Design a work schedule suitable for a specific workplace.
  • Design a security system that can be implemented in a work situation.
  • Design a layout for an office situation.

What You Will Do

  • Make a list of essential equipment, stationery and other materials.
  • Visit an office supply company.
  • Collect catalogues or price lists for different products available.
  • Compare the implications of having an office at home with leasing, buying or using a serviced office.
  • Explain applications to use and apply the following office equipment:
    • computers
    • mobile phones
    • printers
    • email
    • fax
    • scanners
  • Report on the range of systems covering:
    • couriers
    • postage
    • scanners
    • electronic banking
    • mobile phones
    • rail services
  • Write a letter applying for this job.
  • Write a letter from an organisation (real or imaginary) to another organisation.
  • Ask your local computer supplier about virus removal software and hardware.
  • Compile a table of 10 computer systems.
  • What roles can computers play in business?
  • Contact or visit various stationery supplies to find out about what materials are available.
  • Write a report about how to design a filing system suitable for your area of work.
  • Inspect various offices to see how they are utilising space and storage.
  • Contact various suppliers of office furniture to see what furniture is available.

Know the Options and Make Good Choices

Any good administration officer, receptionist or secretary will be constantly confronted with decisions to make and follow through on. This is the core nature of office work.

You need to learn what the options are before you can choose the best one; and you need to know how to perform that option in order to be effective at seeing the job get done.

  • Anyone can answer a phone, but only skilled office staff can communicate fast, appropriately and efficiently on the phone.
  • Anyone can type on a keyboard, but good staff type faster and with less errors.
  • If you are skilled at office work, you will be aware, capable, able to prioritise work, and able to "work to specification" (i.e. do what the boss wants, the way they want it done, in the time frame they anticipate).

Answering the Telephone

Using a phone is an important method of communication for many offices. Office staff can potentially waste time, cause miscommunication and lose valuable business, if they don't manage phone calls properly. Sometimes the phone cannot be answered (e.g. overnight or if there are multiple lines operating but only one person to answer calls).  When calls cannot be answered, there are other strategies that can be employed; but it is important to choose the most appropriate strategy for the situation at hand.

Options might be:

  1. Let it ring
    Not good to do this too often. It can affect business. People will know that no one is about!
  2. Leave it off the hook
    This makes people think that your phone is busy. Occasionally it might be better to leave it off the hook than to let it ring. Do it too often, however, and clients and customers will simply assume that you are no longer in business - or that you just don’t care.  
  3. Use a telephone answering service
    This service will redirect your phone calls to a receptionist service elsewhere that will take messages for you. When you wish, you can redirect calls back to your own telephone. The main advantage is that the caller can speak to a person, and not just to an answering machine.
    Many callers will not talk to an answering machine, which means that you might miss important calls, or opportunities to gain a new client. If using an external answering service, be mindful of potential disadvantages such as the staff might not reflect the attitude that you want to convey; or they may do things that you would not approve of, such as putting customers on hold without obtaining their permission.
    Larger organisations may have answering services (voicemail/mailboxes) for each individual employee, these may also give the option for the caller to be connected with a receptionist if they prefer not to leave a recorded message.
  4. Use a telephone answering machine
    Many offices rely on an answering machine to take calls when the office is unattended. However, many people tend to be uncomfortable about leaving messages on these machines and hang up without leaving a message. The machine can redirect people to call at a different time, or to ring an alternative telephone number, if this is how you choose to use it. Some of these machines work much better than others. Phone service providers also offer recorded messaging services.  Whichever of these options is used, there is also the further option that messages can be accessed remotely.  This may be particularly useful for smaller business where the nature of the business means that the office is often unattended.

Making a Difference

  • Knowing the detail makes a difference - if you understand the ways of effective communication you will be able to get your message across more clearly, you will understand how to look after clients and potentially improve the potential of retaining them.
  • Knowing how an office should work will benefit those looking to set up a small office - you will know how to effectively structure the office, how to maintain records, how to communicate with your clients as well as your staff and much more.
  • As an employee, knowing the way an office functions as well as being able to communicate effectively means that you have the potential to be a more valuable resource - you can operate effectively within the office environment by understanding the approaches to different areas of practices followed within an office.

Enrolling is Easy

Enrolling is easy - just go to the "It's easy to enrol" box at the top right-hand side of this page and select your learning method.

Or, if you would like to know more about the course, get in touch with one of our expert tutors today by clicking on the "Talk to an expert" box at the bottom of this page.


Meet some of our academics

Denise Hodges Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for health and wellness. Denise has an Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing).
Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Kate GibsonKate has 12 years experience as a marketing advisor and experience as a project manager. Kate has traveled and worked in a variety of locations including London, New Zealand and Australia. Kate has a B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR).

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