If you're in charge of stocking your office's supply closet, then you may have a hard time determining what office supplies your coworkers need. At first thought, stocking up on office supplies should be a pretty easy task. You just stop by the local office supply store and grab a box of pens and some paperclips, right? Unfortunately, it isn't quite this easy. First, you have to make sure that your company's employees have the tools they need to perform their duties as efficiently as possible. Then, you have to shop around to make sure your supply budget goes as far as possible. Are you ready to find out more? Let's get started!
Assess Your Employees' Needs
Nowadays, the bulk of many office workers' duties are performed on the computer. While the folks in accounting may have switched from ledger books to Excel Spreadsheets, they do still need some items. Likewise, the marketing team might not need job jackets because they've switched to an electronic workflow, but there are still some supplies that they need. Since there's a good chance that your crystal ball is in the shop, you'll need to ask your company's various department heads what items their teams need. Consider creating a questionnaire that includes some or all of the following questions:
* About how many pages does your team print on a daily basis? Are these pages printed in full color or in black and white? (This can help you determine how much copy paper you should have on hand as well as how much printer ink you need to purchase.)
* Do your department's daily tasks involve much note taking? (This can help you assess how many pens and/or steno books you should purchase.)
* How often to you use a whiteboard during your meetings? (Use their answers to figure out how many dry erase markers, erasers, and bottles of board cleaner you should purchase.)
* Does your department file hardcopies of any documents? If so, how is your filing system organized? (This can help you determine what types and sizes of file folders you need to purchase.)
* Do your employees require any specialty supplies? (This will help to fill in the blanks. Maybe the HR department flags decent resumes with neon pink sticky notes or perhaps the IT department regularly uses zip ties.)
Set Some Ground Rules
Make sure that your coworkers know that the answers they provide won't necessarily determine exactly what items end up on your shopping list. For instance, requests for specific brands of pens or notepads might just have to go unanswered. You'll also want to let it be known that outrageous requests will simply not be considered. Every employee doesn't need a rainbow assortment of highlighters when one or two colors will suffice. You may also benefit from establishing some boundaries with regard to special requests and the urgency with which they're fulfilled. It's simply not practical for you to stop what you're doing and run to the office supply store because someone forgot to tell you they were low on printer ink. It will be in your best interest to designate specific shopping days (i.e. requests must be made by Tuesday and supplies will be delivered by Friday). Should an individual or a department have an urgent need that cannot wait until the next round of orders and deliveries, you should let it be known that - with their supervisor's approval - they can purchase the supplies themselves and will be reimbursed after they fill out an expense report.
Find the Best Deals
Save your company some cash by shopping around to find the best deals. Some stores offer rewards programs that will offer coupons or other discounts if you regularly purchase your supplies from them. You may also want to become a member of Sam's Club, Costco, or BJ's Wholesale so you can purchase bulk items at a reduced rate.