Anybody who has ever worked in an office has, at one time or another, uttered the words, “There has got to be a better way to do this.” Most offices are fairly well equipped in today’s world, but there is often a surprising scarcity of modern conveniences. When I say modern, I’m not talking about the latest technology. I’m focusing on office equipment which has been on the market for quite some time. I’ve worked in many offices, both as an employee and as a consultant. I can, at this point in my life, walk into any office and have a pretty good idea of how my workflow will be guided by the equipment available.
Courtesy and professionalism
I’ll start with a simple example. When a customer walks into my office, they have certain expectations that they will be treated with a high degree of professionalism and courtesy. I can provide the courtesy. It is part of my job. The professionalism is something that I may need some help with. I can behave in a professional manner, but if I don’t have the tools available to me to do the job properly, then my behavior will take a back seat, in the eyes of the customer. The first tool I want to talk about is a laminator.
Keep important papers in good shape
I can’t say how many times I’ve handed my customer a sheet of raw paper that they will be expected to keep and refer to repeatedly. I cringe when I have to do this. I realize that the customer is already looking at the page as something that will degrade over time and may very well get lost in a stack of equally important papers. Very few people have a proper filing system at home. They shouldn’t need one because it is my job, as the professional, to provide them with proper documentation. I need a laminator. I need to hand them a page that reflects the importance of the document, a direct reflection on the relative importance of my organization. I’ve never handed out reference materials that were not important to my company, so I need those documents to tell the customer that this is important material and it is to be protected.
Laminators are not a particularly expensive piece of equipment, but they can make an organization shine. We spend a small fortune on campaigns to tell our customers that we care about them. We spend that money to make them feel safe with us. It is counterintuitive to hand a customer a piece of paper that tells them that I don’t really care about the reference materials that I am distributing. A laminator changes all that and, for a relatively small amount of money, makes my company stand out from the pack. They are easy to order, it can all be handled from a desk. A good start, where I have found the best equipment, is to take a look at the offerings from USI.
Keep the work flowing
Of course, there are many other considerations for an office. There are times when we might have one machine shared by many people. This is often the case with centrally located office printers. Not having enough equipment can cost a lot of time in the bottleneck. In this example, I have staff waiting in line for their documents to print from the queue, but there are many other situations where my people may find themselves standing still until they can access the equipment that they need. I don’t want to see my people standing in line, it’s non-value-added time that I cannot afford.
Once I have a pretty good idea of where my bottlenecks are, I want to take a look at the offerings available for me to mitigate the situation. I go to a trade show. Here is a great article on the common objectives of the trade show vendors. Armed with the information I have about what they need, and with my own needs in mind, I am prepared to engineer a new plan to make my office run more efficiently.
Never stop looking ahead
My strategy is to always be improving. If I could give any advice to my fellow office professionals, it would be to never stop learning and to never stop looking ahead. A business is like a shark; if it stops moving forward it will die. Take a look here, for business insider tips on how to begin the process of designing the most efficient office available today. Here is hoping that the year 2020 is the most successful one on record for all of us!