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Archive for February, 2012

Shopping Tips for Buying Office Supplies Online

Buying office supplies online saves you the trouble of time spent on trips to the store and carrying heavy boxes. Shopping online for office supplies makes the process easier, whether you are looking for home office supplies or keeping a large company stocked with paper, ink and equipment. As a bonus, online office supply sites offer free or cheap shipping and discounts on the products you use most.

Make a List
It is a good idea to make a shopping list (as you would when making an actual trip to the store) to make your shopping process simpler and to be sure you don’t forget any essential items. On your list, note specific details like paper size/weight or printer model (for ink purchases). This way, you’ll be able to fill your shopping cart in a few minutes when you sit down to place your order.

Buy Larger Quantities
You’ll get a better deal on shipping by ordering in larger quantities with many online office supply sites, so it is a good idea to order as much as you can each time. Some sites also offer quantity discounts, so if there are supplies you know you’ll need again in a month, it may save you money to order more now and get a cheaper unit price.

Consider Recycled/Eco-Friendly Products
Many of the sites surveyed in this review offer a range of recycled or eco-friendly office supply products. Eco-friendly products are equal in quality to their standard counterparts, but their production has a lower environmental impact. Eco-friendly products may be made of post-consumer or pre-consumer recycled materials, or they may be produced using earth-friendly methods, chemicals or facilities.

This is a great area to explore eco-friendly alternatives because most office supplies are disposable and it is such a high-volume industry. Although the prices are sometimes higher, you and your business can take pride in having done your part to help the environment.

Setting up a New Office
If you’re setting up a new office, you’ll need a lot of equipment in addition to renewable supplies. Most of the sites surveyed in this review carry a range of electronics and office machines. When you select a new electronics product, be sure you pick out all the peripherals/accessories/supplies you’ll need to keep it up and running. For example, when you buy a new printer, it’s a good idea to buy a few ink cartridges and a lot of paper.

Many of the surveyed sites also carry lines of office furniture. Before you pick out a desk or workstation, be sure you measure your available space and find matching chairs that are the appropriate height. Some sites do not accept furniture returns, especially after the furniture has been assembled, so it is important to select the right products the first time.

Keep Track of Orders and Make a Schedule
One of the downfalls of buying supplies online is the shipping delay. Start keeping track of your supply usage to avoid being caught without paper or ink while waiting for your order to arrive. Over time you’ll be able to establish an average supply usage rate and plan ahead for when to place your next order. Many office supply sites allow shoppers to create an account to keep track of order history. This can be a great tool for keeping track of how often you need to re-order.

Business Accounts
Many small and mid-sized businesses buy office supplies online. Many office supply websites offer business accounts to support these higher-volume customers. Once you’ve set up a commercial account, you may have access to wholesale pricing/quantity discounts, tax exemption and/or credit terms.

If your supplier offers credit for business accounts, you may be able to order as often as needed and receive a monthly bill. This is a great option for companies that prefer not to shop online using a credit card. Once you’ve found a supplier you like, call or email them to find out about business account offerings. You can still shop online for your office supplies even after you’ve set up your special account.

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Happy Employees are Productive Employees

Do you wish your team had more oomph in their step at work? You want to do something to keep them happy but need some help? Some ideas to keep in the back of your mind to keep them happy are:

  • Recognize success
  • Set goals
  • Provide career growth opportunities
  • Offer flexible work hours
  • Provide quality office supplies
  • Go on team field trips

Because we want to do our part to make sure everyone on your business team is happy, productive and successful, here are a few more ways to keep your employees happy to get out of bed each morning and come to “work”.

Offer Collaboration Spaces
When members of your team want to work together on a project, give them a place to come together and get creative. Huddling in one person’s cubicle isn’t the best option. A collaboration space anywhere in your office, such as a meeting room, a round table or even an office corner filled with beanbag chairs, can help encourage communication and collaboration to keep your team excited and moving forward.

Create a Regular Ritual
Whether it is a Friday afternoon BBQ or a monthly happy hour, creating a ritual for your team gives them something to look forward to. This excitement and creating relationships with team members outside of the office walls can have a stronger impact on team building than trust falls.

Have a Virtual Work Day
Some people can work better and be more productive from home. If you offer work flexibility and allow team members the option of working from home one day a week, they’ll find they are happier and more productive at home. It doesn’t work for everyone, however, so make sure your company’s Virtual Work Day isn’t mandatory.

Give Them Ownership of a Project
Most employees want to know their ideas and their skills are recognized. By giving them ownership of a project and having them work on it and push it through to completion, you are giving them that recognition they want, and allowing them to showcase their talents even more. This extra boost in respect and encouragement can keep them happier and working hard to make you proud.

Give Them More Vacation Time
I know it may seem counterproductive to offer more time off to increase productivity, but that is exactly what more vacation time can bring. When employees are getting ready for a vacation, they work extra hard to get all their work done before they leave, and this can drive greater results from your team.

It’s no secret that happy employees are productive employees. The trick to to keeping your team members as happy as possible the majority of the time, and encouraging their productivity to benefit your business.

How do you keep your team happy? Please share your ideas below!

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