How to set up a new office space

Whether you are setting up a new workspace within your home or in a new office location, it is worth considering all aspects that will impact your productivity and comfort. That way, you will end up with the best possible working environment for your needs.

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Furnishing an office

Equipment

You will need a few essentials – a laptop or desktop PC, a printer and/or a multi-functional device that also works as a scanner and copier. You’ll also need appropriate peripherals and accessories, such as audio speakers or a headset, and large-format displays for either conferencing or a larger on-screen workspace. You may also want a port replicator if you and your colleagues are planning on using notebook PCs all the time, and a separate keyboard and mouse each.

Furniture

It’s essential that your desks and chair are comfortable, which means that they can be adjusted to different heights and angles. The ergonomics are worth considering as well. An office environment that is attractive and pleasing to be in will also aid productivity. Lighting, décor, and flooring all need to be carefully considered – making sure the room is adequately lit is vital, and don’t forget about the heating and ventilation. You may want to have plants to add greenery and suitable artwork on the walls to add a different dimension to the space.

Layout

Spaces can be used in many different ways. You need to think about how desks and equipment, lighting, and everything else is laid out. This will not only help you and others to feel comfortable, it will also ensure you can work efficiently and productively.

Safety is also an important consideration. If there are going to be several people using the space, you may need to put appropriate distancing measures and barriers in place, or to design a one-way system.

Meeting room

If you need a separate meeting room, you will need to ensure that it’s suitably equipped. You will need different equipment, depending on whether it will be for internal use or for video conferencing, or both. You will almost certainly need a large format display – and if you use it for team or remote collaboration, it will need to be touch-sensitive. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you can share screens on your display set-up. Check to see if your display has built-in speakers; if not, you will need to invest in a separate pair.

The desk and seating need to be considered too, as does the lighting, décor, and heating. You may also want to use some form of booking software to ensure that the room is never double-booked.

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Communications

Telephone lines

All businesses – expect perhaps small, sole-traders – need a bona fide telephone number, so you will need to make sure that you have this in place from the outset. It makes sense to use a hosted VoIP service as this will give you more flexibility and low running costs. A voice service may be available as part of your broadband package, but if several people are going to be working in the new office, you will need a distinct and dedicated VoIP service.

Emails

Having a distinct URL for your business is also important in marking businesses out as serious and credible entities. By purchasing a suitable web address, you can easily set up email accounts that look professional, and are recognised in the recipient’s in-box. You can, of course, also use the URL as the platform for your own web site. Having a decent website is also important, as it’s often the first thing a prospective customer checks when they are researching your services.

Mobile Phones

It’s worth considering whether you need separate mobile phones for business. Using your personal mobile is fine, but there are always some security risks and it can be hard to track call records. Having separate mobiles ensures tighter security, and the business will own the mobile number, making it transferrable to anyone else in the business. It is also easier to claim purchase, contract, and call costs if you have business phones.

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Broadband

Just about every business depends on an internet connection, so it’s absolutely vital that you select the right broadband service for your needs.

Choosing the right broadband

The choice you make may depend on your location.  If you are in a built-up area of a town or city, you should have a good set of options. The key thing is to look hard at what you will need over at least the next two years – that’s the period that most broadband contracts run for, so you’ll need to make sure that the service will meet your needs over that time period.

A standard service offering up to 40Mbps download speeds may be OK for everyday email and web browsing, for maybe three or four people. But for video conferencing and collaboration, or sending and receiving large files, you may need a superfast (FTTC) or ultrafast (FTTP) service that provides up to 80Mbps or 100Mps, or more. These will obviously cost more, so you do need to consider your budget. But going with the lowest-cost option may be a false economy if it does not give you the bandwidth you need.

It is worth remembering that you will be depending on your broadband for all your communications – online and voice and video – and being able to work quickly and respond promptly is always going to be important.

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Equipment & stationary

Branding (paper, pens, etc)

Another important aspect of the workplace is branding. Even though businesses are now using less paper than before, professional letter-headed paper, business cards, compliment slips, and even pens or other merchandise still have a place in most sectors. That’s because branded products create a gentle reminder of your business. Getting the design and print sorted out in advance will make sure you look like a professional business from the outset.

Printers

Most people still need to print a variety of documents from time to time, so it’s a good idea to have a printer that suits your office needs. In many situations it will be a shared device, and the kind you choose will depend on the type of output you produce and how much of it you will need.

If you only need to run-out the occasional document and now and then use colour, a simple, low-cost ink-jet will probably suffice. If you need generate higher volumes of print quite frequently, you may need a heavier duty laser printer.

It’s also worth thinking about whether you need a multi-functional device that will also act as a scanner and copier. Many devices combine all three functions now, but dedicated printers are more viable if you have high volumes.

You may also want to consider the size and ergonomics or the print device and, to be more environmental, whether or not you should purchase a ‘tank’ type printer that has refillable ink bottles. This can also be more economical as you don’t need to keep replacing the ink or toner cartridge.

Invoices and statements

As is the case with general stationery, being able to produce professional-looking invoices and statements from the outset will mark you out as a serious and professional business. These documents need to be specially designed to accommodate the way you make your charges and set out your bills.

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