Follow these five steps to create a productive office setting:
1. Make a List of Everything You Need to Run Your Business
Before even looking for office space, you may want to make a list of everything you will need in your new office, from desks and chairs to computer hardware, as well as any tasks like setting up your internet connection. Knowing your business needs will help ensure you choose the correct office size and location to support yourself and team members who share your workspace.
Here are the common items most small business offices need:
- Desks: Consider the best office desk to suit your work needs and office layout.
- Chairs: There are three common types of chairs you may want to consider.
- Computers: Determine how many and what kind of computers you’ll need.
- Software: Determine whether you need any new business software.
- Internet: Find an internet provider with adequate speed and reliability.
- Phones: You may need desk phones, cell phones, and conference phones.
- Phone service: Decide whether a standard or voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone system is best.
Optional Services & Supplies to Support Your Office Setting
Consider what other services and supplies your office needs. For example, you may need to set up an alarm system, a phone answering service, or even credit cards for your employees. Many of these are optional based on your business model and where your office is located.
Here are some of the more common optional office services and supplies:
- Security: Consider whether you need a security system or video surveillance.
- Answering service: Set up an after-hours answering service, or use a service like Ruby Receptionist to save on hiring someone to answer your phones.
- Office supplies: Amazon is a great place to order supplies because they’ll deliver right to your office, saving you time. Consider copy paper, desk organizers, and recycling bins.
- Bank accounts and credit cards: You may want to set up free or low-cost bank accounts, as well as determine whether to provide credit cards to managers or sales reps.
- Time clock: A time clock can keep track of who’s on site as well as hours worked. And most, like Homebase, can interface directly with your payroll software.
2. Design Your Office Floor Plan
Once you add everything on your checklist, consider the layout of your office space. This will help you to confirm how much furniture to buy. For example, do you need private conference rooms for client or employee meetings? Should managers have a desk near a window? Should your bookkeeper have their own cubicle? Based on the amount of room you have and the kind of work being done, your floor plan can maximize your office space for productivity.
Start by choosing an office floor plan layout:
- Open plan: An open floor plan maximizes the usable area of the space, but at the expense of privacy and storage.
- Closed plan: A closed floor plan gives your staff more personal space, but it’s less collaborative and won’t fit as many seats.
- Modular workstation: This layout combines elements of both, giving your staff more privacy, storage, and larger working surfaces—with open areas for collaboration.
Optional Space Considerations When Setting Up Your Office
Depending on your business needs, you may need dedicated workspace within your office, like a copy room that contains your fax, printers, and a shredder. Or, you may need to carve out a lobby or waiting area with guest seating if you expect clients to come in for meetings.
Here are optional areas you may want to plan for within your overall office setting:
- Formal entrance or reception area: This is best if you expect visitors.
- Break room or kitchen: It’s nice to offer coffee, drinks, and snacks, and give employees a place for breaks. It’s helpful to have a refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher too.
- Conference room: Conference space is crucial if your team gathers for regular meetings; private rooms are best for one-on-one conversations like HR reviews.
- Lactation room: Depending on which state you’re in and the size of your company, you may be required to provide a quiet room for new moms—and it can’t be the bathroom.
- Exercise room: To keep employees fit, some firms like to bring in a few pieces of equipment, such as a stationary bike or treadmill, or a room to stretch or do yoga.
- Dressing area: Service businesses often set aside space in the office for field workers to change into work clothes. A plumbing firm might provide showers too.
You can use simple chart software, such as SmartDraw (cloud-based), to drag-and-drop workstations, desks, and other items to help you design your office space. As a bonus, many of these programs can help you create an org chart and other helpful business diagrams.
3. Find an Internet Provider
Before committing to any office lease, make sure the location is serviceable by a high-speed internet provider. Research which internet service provider (ISP) can connect your office well before you move in. Then, once you’ve found a few providers, compare their plans, prices, and contracts. Also, remember that commercial accounts often differ from residential ones, so be careful when looking at their terms.
Our content operations manager suggests:
Gavin Graham, Content Operations Manager, Fit Small Business
“For most small businesses, setting up an internet connection with a minimum of 15 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload will be sufficient. However, as file sizes become larger and more content is being streamed on the internet, the faster the connection, the better. We recommend 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload connections if they’re available.
“To learn more about other ISPs, such as Charter, Frontier, CenturyLink, and Cox, you can read our buyer’s guide on the best internet providers. In it, we compare ISPs by price, available speed, and customer service.”
Not sure which communications providers service your area? Business Services Connect is a telecommunications cooperative that offers an instant-locator tool to help you find the internet, phone, TV, and networking partners in your area. You can compare plans from most of the major providers in the US, including Spectrum, Atlantic, Comcast, and more to find the right solution for your business.
4. Set Up Your Office Communication Systems
You have several options when choosing your communication systems. What’s important is to schedule the installs or configure your software in time for your move so that there’s no disruption to your work and customers are able to get hold of you.
Here are some office communication options to consider:
- Telephone communication systems: Many small businesses are switching to voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone service in lieu of traditional phone systems built on old copper wiring.
- Internal communication software: Communication with your internal employees is critical, especially if some work off-site or remotely. Consider free software, like Slack.
- Cell phones: Some firms provide field and sales employees with business cell phones to ensure they can be reached throughout the work day.
- Virtual phone service: Consider a virtual phone number service that forwards calls made to your business phone number or email.
- Other communication tools: Depending on your business model or how many employees you have, you may need email, appointment scheduling, or video conferencing software.
As you select your communication tools, it’s a good time to consider how incoming calls will be routed. You might consider setting up a call tree to support your business.
VoIP phone service is a great option for most businesses since it is more affordable than a landline and just as clear. You can also easily add or subtract as many lines as you need, and you’ll be able to get phone service within minutes of plugging in your phone. One great option is RingCentral, which offers a free VoIP phone when you sign up.
5. Buy Furniture & Equipment for Your Office Setting
Next, choose the best office furniture and computers for your business’ needs and budget. That may mean you find used office equipment, or simply add a few pieces to existing office desks, chairs, and dividers you already have.
Which office desks you choose will largely depend on your office layout. With an open plan, simple rectangular tables that you can group together will usually work the best. In a pinch, folding tables can fill in as desks, giving you an inexpensive and flexible solution that you can rearrange into any layout. The downside to folding tables is they don’t allow any room for storage, nor are they the particularly stylish.
For a little more money, you can buy glass, metal, or faux wood tables that usually include some storage options in their design. L-shaped tables, in particular, are great for setting up a modular plan. Standing desks are another popular option for those who spend all day at a computer.
While there are many low-priced office chairs on the market, we recommend buying the best your budget can afford. Good chairs help to promote a happy and healthy work environment. Your staff may spend most of their day sitting, so investing in their comfort shows that you value them. You might also be saving money on lost productivity.