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  • Setting Up an Office

    Game Plan

    In-Depth

    How to Set Up Your Physical Office

    Where you work is important, as is how you work. Whether you work at home or in an office outside your home, whatever you can do to make your workspace efficient, pleasant and productive will be time very well spent.

    Many elements come into play, including the location of your office, type of equipment, how to set up efficient, comfortable work areas, and, very important, how to be cost-efficient.

    Equipping Your Office
    Setting up an office requires you to purchase a large number of items, including industry-specific equipment, furniture, tools and vehicles. Because expenses can be significant, you’ll need to set priorities, and acquire what’s most critical for your type of business. For example, if you have a higher-end retail space, restaurant, or professional office, it’s likely to make sense to invest in design and furnishings that represent your company and provide an on-brand customer experience. However, if you’re a manufacturer or consultant, practicality, comfort and durability may better suit you.

    And for major acquisitions, do a cost/benefit analysis, weighing your costs against anticipated increased earnings or savings over the life of the asset.

    The Basics: A List
    Furniture and equipment needs will vary, but almost everyone needs these items.

    • Spacious desks: Employee desks should have plenty of room to accommodate a computer (if needed), telephone and plenty of space to spread out your work.
    • Comfortable, good-quality chairs: Ergonomics are important. Make sure you and your employees are comfortable and have a healthy posture. After all, they’ll spend many hours each day in these seats.
    • Powerful, fast computers: This is about efficiency even more than convenience. Don’t skimp on quality, speed or memory. Also, while computers become outdated quickly, be sure the ones you purchase will be able to handle company needs for at least a few years.
    • Fast Internet access: The world is moving faster and faster. No excuses. Get the fastest speed available in your area, and take advantage of business-specific email/Internet packages.
    • File cabinets and storage: Even with attempts to create paperless offices, paper happens, and we need good systems and plenty of space to file it all. In addition, you may need to maintain records securely for a number of years—ensure you have the space for it.
    • Work tables: These should complement the space available on office desks. Sometimes employees simply need more space to lay out all your work and be efficient.
    • Shelves: They’re for more than holding books. All kinds of files and anything you need handy access to should be an arm’s length away.

    Designing Your (Home) Office
    If you are creating a brand new workspace in your home, you’ll have plenty of control over where you work and in the entire design of your office.

    • Consider Location: If you’re dedicating part of your house to office space, think about the importance of a clearly allocated space, ideally as free from family noise as possible. It should be soundproof and well separated from the family living space.
    • Plan Thoughtfully: Take your time to plan with care and consideration, focusing on the details. Begin with a penciled sketch of your desired layout, including the proposed placement of drawn-to-scale furniture, office equipment and windows.

    Consider Government Surplus
    If cost-cutting is important to you, one often overlooked source for good quality, reasonably priced office equipment is government surplus.

    The federal or state government typically has auctions in which extra equipment, seized goods or repossessed items are available to the public at or below cost or fair market value. Government websites have more information, including GovLiquidiation.com, PublicSurplus.com, GoveSales.gov and GSAAuctions.gov.

    Game PlanGame Plan

    Game Plan

    Take your time to proceed thoughtfully as you prepare to set up your office. Plan for your current and future needs. Once you’ve found a location, prepare a rough floor plan, in pencil, which will help you to envision and measure how everything will fit.

    Especially if you’re designing a space for customers and clients, consider an interior designer with a portfolio of commercial experience, and work with contractors who understand your needs.

    Articles that may offer guidance include: