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How to Set Up an Office from Scratch: 5 Easy Steps Checklist

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How do you set up an office from scratch, say, you have recently got an office space? The process of setting up a workplace is as overwhelming as decorating a new house. You tend to get excited over the idea of purchasing new furnishings, filling the place up with new equipment, and mulling over how you will set the interior. However, if you don’t plan carefully how you will set up your office space, you might end up spending too much money on things you don’t need, or worse—create a clutter that might put a damper on the overall efficiency of your operations.  

If you are unsure how to set up an office from scratch, keep reading. In this article, we will be providing you with a comprehensive checklist of office essentials, so that you can create a workplace that will reinforce your operations, foster collaboration, and improve productivity.  

how t0 set up an office

How you set up your office can make or break your business. A disorderly workplace can lead to unhappy workers, which could be a cause for inefficient operations. In fact, according to the State of the American Workplace report, results showed that dissatisfied employees cost businesses in the US $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity every year.

There are many factors that might contribute to this dissatisfaction among employees. As you can see on the table provided, above 40% of workers believe that there is not enough quiet space for focused work in modern offices. Moreover, roughly 30% think that their workplace need better wireless technology, and 20% are stating that the internal office design and layout is not conducive to productivity and quality.

Source: savills-studley.com

Make sure you prevent this by setting up an office carefully. By understanding what your operations need and having a clear view of the requirements of your business, you can create a seamless work environment that improves productivity, enhances teamwork, ensures efficiency, and exudes professionalism.

In this article, we will show you 5 easy steps on how to set up an office space from scratch. From choosing a floor plan and finding out how to optimize your space to determining the type of equipment you need and narrowing down the essential SaaS for your business, our guide can serve as your checklist to make everything go smoothly.

Step 1: Visualize How You Want Your Office to Look Like

Before you start buying items and filling up your office with furnishings and equipment, try to visualize what you want your workspace to look like. Make measurements of your space to get a good grasp of how much space you have to spare. After which, you can start estimating how small or how large the equipment you’ll need. By doing so, it will be easier for you to design how the layout of your office.  

As you visualize your floor plan, you should decide what kind of work environment you want for your employees. Different office setups have various effects that can be ideal for certain industries while detrimental to others. If you’re looking for one that promotes productivity and individual growth, using cubicles may be good for your operations. For those who want to foster creativity and enhance teamwork, an open office layout might work better. You could also make use of half partitions to strike a good balance between an open-plan and cubicle office layout. At the end of the day, it all boils down to finding out which office floor plan you and your staff are comfortable with.

Step 2: Set Up Your Communication Channels

Even as you set up the office you can and should immediately establish communication with clients, staff and key partners. Each working hour counts and you cannot afford to have employees sitting idle waiting for the final touches on the office interior. This is where communication channels will come in, particularly business phone system. Using today’s cloud PBX, instant messaging app, teleconferencing tools, and VoIP programs, you get to establish that key communication link on the get-go. Moreover, these can simplify communication within your office as well. To help you build your office’s communication network, we have listed down some products for you to consider. You can also check out this list of communications software systems to expand your list of options.

1. RingCentral

Probably the most essential communications tool that you need for your office is a PBX system or VoIP software. This will allow you to consolidate different communication channels in one convenient hub. Whether you need to handle calls, emails, video chat, instant messaging, or conferencing, this type of software will be able to support it. One good example of this is RingCentral.

This unified communications system and VoIP program is designed to cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes. Offering robust tools that are highly configurable, this platform allows users to conduct conferences, take phone calls, manage emails, as well as perform instant messaging with ease. Moreover, the software comes with auto receptionist tools and automated call forwarding options that can relieve you of mundane tasks such as routing calls to the right people. To further reinforce communication efforts and make sure that you are always within reach of your customers, RingCentral also has built-in fail-safe systems. Should you want to extend the functionalities of this platform and configure it according to your operational needs, you may also integrate it with a multitude of third-party apps.

You can try all its premium features at no cost when you sign up for a RingCentral free trial here.

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The platform is created to work on both mobile and desktop devices, so you can manage your calls and messages as long as you’re connected to the internet. With this at your disposal, you can certainly reduce the amount of busywork involved in communicating with clients, business partners, and staff members. This way, you can focus more on having substantial conversations that drive your business forward. For pricing, RingCentral has different plans that are bundled according to the types of features you require as well as the number of users you intend on enrolling in the system. These range from $19.99/month/user to $59.99/month/user.

2. Slack

On top of your VoIP system, it is also important to find a tool that specifically targets your internal communications. For this, an instant messaging system would be more ideal. It is less disruptive than calls and conferencing. In addition, messages sent through IM are much easier to filter and search for future reference. One such IM tool you should consider is Slack.

Slack is a messaging application developed to centralize all internal business communications. Offering robust real-time messaging as well as voice and video calling capabilities, this tool also has file sharing, archiving, filtering, data encryption, and custom notification features that allow modern teams to maximize collaboration and optimize overall operations. Moreover, it is accessible from any device, giving users complete mobility. To top it all off, Slack offers open API capabilities that allow it to work with over 1500 external applications. This way, you can extend its capabilities and merge it with your existing business systems with ease. For pricing, Slack has a free plan and paid plans that cost $6.67/user/month to  $12.50/user/month.

Step 3: Make Sure You Have the Right Software

After determining the office hardware you need, it’s time to start choosing the software systems that you will use for your operations. These applications are key to helping you boost overall productivity and efficiency in your workplace. With these at your disposal, you can speed up the majority of your operational processes and streamline your workflow. More often than not, these are also built to help you reduce the amount of manual work that you have to do on a daily basis. Just make sure you choose software systems that are flexible enough to adapt to your unique workflow and support the requirements of your operations.

To help you get started, we have zeroed in on some of the most essential types of SaaS for your new office. However, before investing in one, make sure that your prospective software systems are compatible with the equipment you are currently using. This is so that you won’t end up spending more money to replace certain hardware. For certain industries, it is also important to note that there may be specialized software solutions that you will need. Check out this comprehensive guide to the essential SaaS solutions for businesses to get a better idea of the other types of systems that you should look for.

1. Human Resource System

Companies, big and small, need a way to manage their employees. One of the most efficient ways to do so is by using HR software. This can help you assess and recruit new employees, handle onboarding and training, track employee attendance, and evaluate the performance of existing staff members. It also comes with compliance tools that help you abide by HR and labor laws. In addition, there are some HR tools that come with its own payroll management module to help users manage salaries and benefits without having to leave the platform. Should you want to invest in one, a good example of this type of system is BambooHR.

You can check the solution closely when you sign up for a BambooHR free trial here.

2. Accounting Software

In any business, you will need to manage your finances. One of the tools that will simplify and accelerate this process is an accounting system. This type of program can help you keep tabs on income and expenditures and ensure that you are getting accurate reports on all financial activities. Some accounting tools are also capable of helping you prepare your taxes. On top of that, like HR systems, there are also accounting platforms that can manage payroll or be integrated with external payroll systems for easier financial management. To date, one of the best accounting systems on the market that you should check out is Freshbooks.

If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for a Freshbooks free trial here.

3. Project Management Platform

Dealing with business endeavors can get overwhelming. By implementing project management platforms, it becomes easier to prioritize tasks and ensure that you are not overlooking any aspects of your projects. These platforms also come with collaboration features that will help you relay information with your teammates faster and more effectively. If you haven’t started browsing for a project management tool for your business, one of the products you should consider is Wrike.

You can use all the features for free for a period of time to see if the software matches your needs. Simply sign up for a Wrike free trial here.

Step 4: Jot Down All the Equipment You Need

Among the essential parts of an office that will help you carry out your operations is your equipment. But before you start purchasing any equipment, you should first jot down all the necessary items for your office. This will prevent you from buying hardware that you don’t need as well as help you keep your budget in check. To help you narrow down the list of equipment you should consider, here’s a list of essential equipment for new offices:

1. Computers and Laptops

A majority of transactions, marketing campaigns, and sales activities now happen online. This is why you will need to use computers or laptops in order to keep up with your competitors. As you browse, make sure you look for devices with specifications that can support your existing business software. Keep in mind that your computers and laptops should have operating systems that are compatible with your applications and a RAM of at least 4GB that will allow you to perform multiple tasks without slowing down computer performance. You should also take into consideration that storage capacity of these devices and make sure that they can support large amounts of files.

Once you have a clear idea of the type of computer you will need for your business, you can start the purchasing process. Light user machines will often cost $600 to $800 while power user machines may be priced at $1800 to $2000. These are often inclusive of warranty, tech support, and installation. To save money, you could also consider buying these in bulk to get discounts. For small businesses, you could opt to implement a BYOD policy so that you won’t have to spend on additional devices.

2. Office Phones and Fax Machines

While emails remain as one of the most used modes of communication when it comes to business, it is still important for you to have other means by which people can get in touch with you. These can be in the form of office phones or fax machines. Aside from giving customers more ways to reach you, these can also be useful for companies that cater to customers who are not particularly tech-savvy.

3. Printers and Photocopy Machines

Many businesses are going paperless by utilizing file sharing tools to send documents to their staff members, clients, or even business partners. However, time and time again, you will encounter instances wherein you will need printouts of certain official documents as well as copies of files. For this, you will need reliable printers and copy machines. Just make sure to choose ones that are easy to set up and maintain. You should also consider looking for a machine that can do both to save you money.

4. Internet Connection

It goes without saying that businesses nowadays should have an internet connection for their operations. However, there are different types of internet connection plans available on the market. For businesses operating remote areas, satellite internet is a good option as it is available virtually everywhere. However, this is easily affected by wind, rain, and snow, resulting in slow speeds and downtime. If you need faster and more reliable internet, you could choose fiber-optic internet but this may not be available in some locations. Should you need fast internet speeds without bandwidth limits, cable internet is the way to go. Sometimes, this is even offered in bundles with phone and TV services. Lastly, you could also choose DSL internet which is offered by some phone service providers alongside their telephone plans. This is great for basic tasks such as sending emails and browsing the web.  The only downside to using DSL internet services is that it might not be stable enough to handle conferencing.

5. Security Alarm System

Your office is filled with documents containing confidential information, expensive equipment, and other valuable items. This is why it makes sense that you take measures to keep your workplace safe from intruders. One of the best ways to do this is by installing a security system. This could take the form of passive infrared motion detectors, glass break detectors, alarm systems, or CCTV.

6. Mobile Phones

If you are in the field service industry or are simply always on-the-go, then, it is important that you have fast and reliable mobile phones. Luckily, there are plenty of service providers that offer bundle plans for businesses. These packages are often inclusive of multiple lines and devices and unlimited options on calls, texting, and data usage. If you regularly meet up with clients abroad, you can also opt for plans that can support international coverage so you can save on telecom costs. Just be sure to consider the specs of the devices that they are offering with these phone service bundles. You will need one with a strong enough processor for all the applications that you will need to install in it.

7. Paper Shredder

You will be handling plenty of paperwork in your office–most of which will only be needed for a short amount of time. When the time comes that you need to discard them, you need to make sure that these papers are cut into tiny pieces before you throw them out. This is to ensure that all your confidential papers remain safe from prying eyes. To speed up the process, you will need a paper shredder. Most supply stores offer three types of heavy-duty shredders that are made specifically for office use: strip cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut. These are all good options but if you want to be extra secure about your discarded documents, it is better to opt for micro-cut shredders. Unlike strip cut and cross-cut shredders, this type of tool will turn your papers into confetti, making it impossible to put the document back together.

Step 5: Stock Up on Office Supplies

Aside from having desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and other equipment, you will also need to stock up on other office supplies. Often taken for granted, these everyday stationery and office materials can help you organize your office and even boost the productivity of your employees. Just be sure to find a supplier that you can trust to give you high-quality yet reasonably priced materials. Here are some of the most important supplies you will need for your new office:

1. Paper Goods

While most businesses are going paperless, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have paper goods in your office. There are still plenty of opportunities wherein you will need these materials. For one, it is important for you to have a supply of notebooks and legal pads for meetings. These paper goods are great for jotting down ideas quickly. Moreover, using paper instead of your phone will eliminate the chances of getting distracted by notifications that pop up on your screen. You might also need business envelopes, letterheads, and computer papers to print out documents.

2. Business Cards

Business cards may be old school but these are still a must in any industry. These will come in handy for you and your employees when you meet with other professionals or potential clients. Keep your business cards simple by providing only essential information such as your business name, contact details, and the employee’s name and job title. As for the layout, making it streamlined with clean and open designs will help it get a professional look that won’t overwhelm the eyes of whoever was reading it. Be sure to steer clear of distorted or fancy fonts that are hard to decipher. Moreover, opt for basic color schemes that complement your branding. It is also important to note that it is better to have these business cards printed by professionals as they have the printers, inks, and specialty papers that will ensure the quality of your business cards.

3. Mailing Supplies

Emailing may be a convenient channel to get in touch with other people. However, it is not always the best way to communicate with certain demographics. By using old-school snail mail, you are less likely to get filtered out and there is a higher chance for your customers to actually read it. Plus, some legal documents like contracts and patent applications are better sent through registered post for official documentation. So, be sure to have a good amount of official business envelopes and paper with your letterhead.

4. Writing Materials

Even if you don’t use many paper products, you will still need writing materials. For one, you’ll need pens to sign official documents. In addition to that, permanent markers can be of use for labeling documents and other items within your office. Also, if you and your team are fond of using boards for mind mapping and brainstorming, you will also need a good supply of whiteboard markers.

5. Other Supplies

On top of the office supplies mentioned, there are other materials you should consider purchasing for your office. These will include rubber bands, paper clips, thumbtacks, staplers, staples, tape dispensers, and tape refills. Of course, if you are using a printer or photocopy machine, you should also have printer ink and toner cartridges in your inventory at all times.

Conclusion

How to set up an office from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated. Like in any business endeavor, all you have to do to make your space work for you is through extensive research and planning. After you’ve completed your preparations, the rest of the work is sure to come much more easily. Hopefully, with this checklist of office essentials, you were able to get a better idea of how you will be able to set up your office from scratch.

You may also be interested to read our guide on how to increase employee & work productivity at your office.

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