July 06, 2020
Basic Office Equipment List: Essential Office Supplies Guide
Success in your new office starts with the best equipment, the right software, and more. This basic office equipment list will cover all of your essentials.
Every office needs a computer. In fact, every employee in your office will likely need a computer. When it comes to what type of computer will be serve your needs, the choices boil down to what it will be used for. If the computer will be used at your office only, a desktop system may be best. If your business sometimes takes you to remote locations, you’ll want a laptop, which offers portability.
While you may need to give up a little in the way of screen size, a laptop will give you unparalleled portability and flexibility. Your employees can take their laptops to and from meetings, on business conferences, and can easily transition from office and at-home work. While at the office, an external monitor can be used in a dual monitor setup to help make up for the smaller screen size.
Desktop computers have more memory to install more software, more speed to perform more tasks at once, and better graphics. For those working in digital marketing or graphic design, a desktop computer is a necessity. When it comes to long-term business costs, desktop computers can be more viable than laptops as well, as they are often easier and cheaper to upgrade than laptops.
If your employees have desktop computer setups, monitors are essential office equipment. Even if your employees have laptops, having additional monitors available can increase productivity, allowing for extra screen space to work with. Monitors can also be used for presentations, meetings, and more.
Some key features to look for when shopping for monitors include:
- Display Type. Your two main choices when it comes to display type for monitors are LCD and LED. LED monitors tend to be more expensive, but they offer higher color contrast and sharper picture quality. If you’ll be doing a lot of graphic design or other visually intensive work, an LED monitor is a good choice. For basic office tasks, an LCD monitor is the more affordable option that will work just fine for your needs.
- Screen Size. This may seem obvious, but you will need to consider the size of the monitors you would like to equip your office with. Larger screens can offer more workspace for your employees and help productivity, but monitors will be more expensive the larger you go. For most office applications, monitors between 19-34” should work well.
- Resolution. In general, the higher the resolution, the better the display. Resolution can also impact how comfortable it is for your employees to work with their computers over a long period of time. For basic office equipment needs, consider purchasing monitors with a minimum resolution of 1024x768. For graphic intensive work, consider QHD or 4K monitors.
Projectors & TVs
If you are going to be giving presentations or hosting meetings, you’ll likely want a projector or televisions. Most projectors and televisions are installed in conference rooms with seating for many people. This can double as a board room and a client meeting room.
The two main types of projectors to consider are DLP and LCD projectors:
- DLP Projectors are typically easier to maintain and provide smooth, shake-free images and a wider color range.
- LCD Projectors provide sharp contrast, quiet operation and tend to be more energy efficient—but motion blur can occur and they can be more difficult to maintain.
If you’ll primarily be using your projector for videos, consider a DLP projector. If you will mostly be displaying static images or slides, consider an LCD projector.
The primary concerns when shopping for a TV are the screen size and resolution. Larger TVs can be used for impressive displays in conference rooms, while smaller TVs may be useful in employee break rooms, as announcement displays, etc. When it comes to resolution, higher resolution provides better picture quality. If you will be using your TV for presentations and important meetings, a high resolution (minimum 4K) will be ideal.
Phones & Communication Systems
Offices require a phone system for clients and customers to get in touch with you as well as to enable internal communication throughout your workplace. Let’s look at some of the more common phone and communication system choices to complete your basic office equipment list.
PBX vs. VoIP Phones
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is a phone system that allows for calls to be made over the internet. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange and is a private communication system that works over a traditional telephone line. Note, however, that modern IP PBX systems can operate over the internet as well.
If you will primarily be performing external calls, a VoIP system is likely the right choice for you. And vice versa, if you will be primarily performing internal calls, a PBX system is likely best for you. If cost is a major concern for you, VoIP systems tend to be more affordable.
Some other key advantages of both systems include:
- PBX allows for welcome messages, auto dialing, find me/follow me functionality and more.
- VoIP allows for caller ID, intercom functionality, call recording and more.
Conference phones are designed to be in the middle of a conference room table with a speaker that allows an entire group of people to be present in the same room on a conference call. These phones are pricey but well worth the cost when you deal with clients regularly and have multiple employees involved in a project.
Every business person needs a mobile phone to stay in touch with clients and business matters on the go. Smartphones can help to improve employee productivity, allowing them to access their work and communicate with key shareholders from anywhere. Some companies choose to purchase mobile phones for all of their employees, while others will purchase them for only key members like executives and sales associates.
Network & Internet Connectivity
Internet connectivity is absolutely essential for any modern business. An internal network is also essential, allowing for communication between machines, shared storage, printer/scanner access and more. You’ll need a few basic pieces of office equipment to connect to the internet and get your network up and running:
Ethernet Switches & Hubs
Ethernet switches and hubs are networking connections that allow multiple users to connect to the network. These work as a central connection for your computers, printers and other devices to connect to the network and interact with each other. Your switch or hub can also be connected to a router to provide internet access.
When choosing between an ethernet switch and hub, performance is the primary concern. The two devices function similarly, but ethernet hubs share bandwidth equally among all ports, while ethernet switches can monitor network usage and intelligently send packets over the network to reduce lag. For very small offices, an ethernet hub can work just fine, but when many machines are connected to the network, an ethernet switch is ideal.
Modems & Routers
Modems and routers are essential office equipment to allow you and your employees to connect to the internet. A modem is the device that allows you to connect to your internet service provider (ISP). But modems typically only include one or two connection ports. To connect multiple devices to the internet, you will need a router. A router is a device that allows you to create a wireless network and connect multiple machines to the internet. Modems and routers can be bought individually, but they are most often purchased as a modem/router combo device.
Another consideration is whether you want to rent or buy this equipment. While many ISPs offer rental equipment, purchasing your own devices can be less expensive over the long-term while allowing you the freedom to upgrade whenever you want. The only catch is that ISPs typically will not service your personal equipment.
Printers, Copiers & Scanners
If paperwork is a large part of your business, then printers, copiers, and scanners should absolutely be on your office equipment list. There are many types of printers to consider, but some of the most common include:
- Inkjet printers are great for vivid color and photo printing. If you need to print high-quality visuals, this is the printer for you. One drawback, however, is that inkjet printers tend to use more ink, which can be more costly over time.
- Laser printers use a laser to beam the image onto the drum and transfer toner to the paper. These printers can be very efficient. While they may cost more upfront, they can be less expensive in the long run, because they use less toner. While laser printers can produce high-end graphics, inkjet printers are better for photo printing.
- Multifunction printers combine multiple devices into one unit. If you want to save space or reduce costs, a multifunction printer/scanner/fax machine may be right for you. Just keep in mind that this could cause traffic jams for busy offices if multiple employees need to use the device at once.
Depending on the type of work you do, some form of computer software will be necessary. While niche software might be necessary for your business, there is some basic software that nearly every business will need. This includes your operating system, security software, and business application suites.
An operating system is the core software that manages your machine’s memory, processes, software and more. While many new computers will come with an operating system installed, there are some key considerations to keep in mind when setting up the machines in your workplace.
When setting up your office, it can be beneficial to keep operating systems consistent across machines. This will help to ensure file and software compatibility across your team. That said, some businesses choose to provide operating systems on a department by department basis. For instance, the creative department may all work on macOS while other departments may use Windows.
The three main operating systems in today’s business world are Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, and Linux:
- Microsoft Windows is by far the most commonly used operating system, controlling over 70% of the market. Windows PCs are the standard for everyday office work.
- Apple macOS provides a high-end experience with a slick and intuitive user interface. This operating system is the standard for graphic design and creative teams.
- Linux is an open source operating system that is often favored by software developers and programmers. There are many tools and interfaces available to customize your Linux operating system.
All computers should be protected with some form of security software to prevent hacking, malware and viruses. As a business, your priority should be to keep your systems, trade secrets, and customer information safe. Essential types of security software include:
- Antivirus Software. Antivirus software is designed to identify and remove known viruses from your system.
- Firewalls. Firewall software helps to protect your network from external threats by monitoring and filtering traffic based on defined security rules.
- Authentication Software. Authentication software is essential for any business working with sensitive information, enabling access via user ID and passwords. These are most often used when a company wants to enable multi-factor authentication or when a company wants to streamline authentication across multiple systems.
- Security Suites. Security suites are comprehensive security software packages that can include antivirus, spyware protection, malware protection, firewall defense, password managers, and more.
Business Application Suites
Business application suites are sets of common software bundled together. This can make shopping for essential office software more convenient and more affordable. Microsoft Office 365 is one example, offering access to a full suite of programs like MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and more. Apple iWork equivalent for MAC users. As another example, Adobe Creative Suite can be a great way to outfit your creative teams, providing access to Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and more.
Consider which applications your team may need to get the job done. If you only need one or two applications, you may consider purchasing them individually. In most cases, however, purchasing a suite or subscription can be more cost-effective.
Desks, workstations, bookshelves, and chairs will all set the tone for your office. Do not underestimate the importance of choosing them wisely. With the right furniture, you can create an environment that is people-friendly, warm, inviting and conducive to a productive environment.
From hybrid sit/stand desks to monitor mounts, office chairs and more, there are many options and pieces to consider when outfitting your office with furniture. If you have a smaller office, consider asking for your employees’ input. What will they need to be their most comfortable and productive?
Putting It All Together
We hope this basic office equipment list helps you to set up your office as quickly and affordably as possible. The more thought you put into your choices, and the better equipped your office is, the more likely that you’ll have the staying power necessary to succeed.
Whether you need assistance planning your office equipment list or are ready to purchase your supplies, CDW is here to help. Explore our vast inventory online, or contact us with any questions you may have.