If you’re setting up a home office, here’s the ultimate checklist of equipment and supplies to consider. FYI, I’m a bit of an office set up junky (have two offices) and spend a lot of time looking into this stuff. I’m currently renovating my main office.
Quicklist: Office Equipment and Supplies
- Multiple monitors
- Desktop computer
- Mobile phone
- Monitor and/or Laptop stand
- Keyboard and Mouse
- Filing cabinets
- Meeting table and chairs
- Wall art
- Business cards
- Letter scale
- Label printer
- Pens, pencils
- Three-hole punch
- Paper trays
- Surge protectors
- Coffee maker
- Mug and coaster
- Music with headphones
Recently I refurnished my office with a new desk, office chair, sofa, bookcase and filing cabinet. While I also have a home office, I do 99% of my work in a small condo I lease to use as my office (a really great setup).
I didn’t stop there. I added a third monitor to my computer setup. Added some monitor stands for proper body alignment.
I then stocked up on sorely needed office supplies.
I also bought some better multimedia gadgets such as a professional mic and webcam.
Below, I set out the list of the different types of office equipment and supplies you need or can get to outfit a fantastic office, whether in your home or in a commercial space. If you’re at the stage you need to outfit your office, check out our “Where to buy office equipment, furniture and supplies” article.
Here’s the list of supplies, tech, furniture and accessories required for any office setup
A. Computer Technology
If you could only get one item for an office, it would have to be a computer. It’s the heart of every office these days. You could literally run million-dollar businesses with a laptop. I exaggerate, but the point is, you will need a computer.
1. Multiple monitors
A multiple-monitor setup is the most important suggestion on this list. If you don’t work with multiple monitors, you’re missing out on huge time-savings and getting way more done faster. When I ran a brick and mortar business, I bought every employee a second monitor because I knew they could get so much more done faster. I still can’t believe that most businesses don’t outfit all their employees with at least two monitors.
That said, there are definitely diminishing returns with three monitors. I use three and I like it but the improvements are nothing like going from one to two monitors. It also depends on your set up. If your main computer is a laptop, which is a small screen, then two additional larger monitors are well worth it.
2. Desktop computer
Most businesses still use desktop computers. Some outfit employees with laptops, but desktop reigns supreme in the business world. The reason is that they cost less for the computing power.
I run my entire business on a laptop. I like it because I can take it everywhere I go (and I do – back and forth to my office and home). Any smallish biz can easily be run with a laptop. That said, I’m seriously considering getting a Mac desktop. I used to work at home but these days I pretty much only work in my office and I would like the additional computing power and larger screen.
Laptops are also ideal for anyone who travels for work frequently. Since it’s easy linking up any computer to a network, there’s no reason employees need to head out without a computer to meet with clients, vendors, suppliers, etc.
Tablets aren’t good for working. They’re fabulous for reading on the Web, watching streaming services, reading ebooks, sending emails in a pinch, playing games but not great for getting any real work done. I suppose a Microsoft Surface with a proper keyboard or iPad with keyboard could be OK, but it’s still small and lacks any real computing power.
5. Mobile Phone
Like a tablet, a mobile phone is not a good computer for working. It’s great, however, for communications and so it’s a vital piece of office equipment.
B. Computer Accessories
1. Monitor stand
I’m big on ergonomics and proper body alignment. I’m tall (6 feet 3 inches) and need my monitors slightly elevated so that I can look straight ahead instead of angling downward which can result in tech-neck.
Not everyone needs a monitor stand. Moreover, some monitors come with a stand that elevates them slightly. My suggestion is to try the monitor as-is and if you notice you have to look slightly downward, buy a stand. I bought the following inexpensive, but stylish stands from Amazon:
2. Laptop stand
I use a laptop to power everything and while I don’t use the laptop monitor much, I do sometimes and so I like it elevated. For that reason, I have a dedicated laptop stand which is as follows:
The mouse is a must-have computer accessory. While touchscreens are great and all, they simply are not as efficient as a mouse.
Most computers come with a keyboard, but IMO it’s good to have a great keyboard. I like the Mac keyboard with it’s flat keys. I loathe the clunky, thick keys that make up so many keyboards.
Many computers come with a built-in webcam and it’s decent enough but if you want something better, you need to buy a separate webcam. For another website I create screenshare video tutorials and so I wanted a better webcam for better video. I opted for the Logitech C922 (I’m very happy with it), which is as follows:
While many computers come with a built-in mic, the sound isn’t great. If you do any audio recording, you’ll want a good mic. You can get a headset USB mic or something more professional. I have a Logitech USB headset with mic as well as a Yeti Blue mic.
It’s probably not the best idea to try and run your internet piggybacking off some free Wi-Fi somewhere. Instead, get your own dedicated Wi-Fi network with router and ensure it’s properly secure. If you have several people working in your office, it’s a good idea to hire a tech person to network it together for you. I’m in an office sharing environment and my landlord employs a tech guy to handle all the networking.
C. Office Machines
One avenue is to invest in a three-in-one business machine that prints, photocopies and scans. These are large and expensive. If you pump out any real document volume, this is a must-have piece of office equipment. My office (shared office arrangement) has this and while I don’t pump out much paperwork, when I do, it’s a great machine.
However, if you don’t do much printing, scanning and/or photocopying, buying lower-priced individual options are good.
I’ve bought all kinds of printers over the years, but the best one is a basic $200 laser printer that doesn’t print color. It’s a workhorse. We’ve had our current one for years and it works great. In fact, most offices with a business machine should have one of these in the event the main printer breaks down.
Scanning is pretty much a necessary task these days as many businesses digitize everything and so you want some form of a scanner in your office. If you seldom scan, you can get by running over to Staples and have them do it for you, but you’ll tire of this pretty fast.
Scanners range in price – it boils down to how much you do. If you do it daily and scan large documents, you want a high-speed scanner. If you do one-off docs here and there, a simple, low-cost scanner will do the job.
Small individual photocopiers, in my experience, aren’t very good but they can do the job. If you photocopy in any volume, it’s worth investing in a large upright business machine.
D. Office Furniture Supplies and Equipment
Unless it’s you and a laptop, you need some furniture. The bare minimum you should have is a desk with chair. Of course, there is much more you can buy. Here’s a list of considerations:
There are so many types of desks you can choose from. I like large desk surfaces to accommodate multiple monitors. You can choose from tiny single-computer desks to huge office furniture systems. Also, see our anatomy of a desk illustrations here.
I spent the most money on my office chair because I want to be comfortable and sit ergonomically. I opted for the Herman Miller Aeron chair, but there are many other office chair options. I admit that the Herman Miller chair isn’t the prettiest, but in this case I opted for function over form.
3. Filing cabinet(s)
While I don’t have a lot to file, I do have accounting and legal documents that I need to hold on to for a few years so I bought a small filing cabinet. Some businesses need rows and rows of filing cabinets while some, like mine, can get away with a single, small two-drawer option. Learn about office storage options here.
While not necessary, it can spruce up your office and offers a place to store things like books (go figure). I have a nice floor-to-ceiling bookcase from Structube.
Also not a necessity, but if you have the space and money, it’s a great addition to any office. I’ve long wanted a small sofa and finally got it.
6. Meeting table and chairs
If you meet with clients in your office, it’s hard to do so at desks with computers these days so having a small side table with chairs can be a great addition.
If you’re in a position to choose ceiling lighting, my preference is dimmable, recessed lighting.
If you do any sort of multi-media, you will want a lighting kit.
8. Wall Art
While we work hard in offices, there’s no reason you can’t dress it up with some wall art such as canvas wall art. It’s nice to work in a nice environment. I bought a large map for the wall. You can also add plants, side tables, a rug – pretty much anything that spruces up a home can be incorporated into an office.
If you entertain clients, it might be worth going circa Mad Men and putting in a minibar loaded with all the goodies such as scotch, vodka, rum, etc. Some wine and beer can be a nice touch. While drinking in the office is not really done anymore, it’s not totally taboo.
I have a telephone that came with my office lease, but it’s not hooked up. I run my biz with my mobile phone. But then I don’t get many calls. I don’t have employees in my office (they work remotely). Therefore I don’t require a landline phone.
However, if you run a business that fields many calls, a landline is a must. Mobile phones are great, but the sound still isn’t as good, crisp or consistent as a landline. Moreover, with today’s landline phones, you can get some sophisticated options with multiple lines, speakerphones, etc.
I don’t have a shredder because I use a service once a year. More and more businesses are opting to use a shredding service a few times each year instead of shredding their own documents. Shredding is time-consuming and if you have a lot of shredding to do, a small unit isn’t up to the task. The commercial shredders can motor through mountains of paper quickly and they recycle it properly.
The only downside to using a shredding service is you have to store your documents until they show up. If you’re a paper-intensive business, you end up paying for storage space which can get costly (or it’s a hassle moving it all to cheaper storage spaces such as a storage locker).
If, however, you don’t shred much but need to do so once in a while, a small office shredder will do the job. Many home offices can get by with this.
G. Office Stationery Supplies
While we’re kinda paperless, most offices aren’t fully paperless and still require stationery and some basic office supplies. Here’s a list to help you get started stocking your office, whether a home office or in a commercial space.
Yup, I still have a stack of legal pads in my office. Sometimes, I find it helpful to make notes with pen and paper. I also have a box of envelopes for the rare instances where I must mail something. Many businesses such as law firms, banks, insurance companies, financial business send out snail mail to customers and clients. In this case, you need proper letterhead and envelopes.
If you print, you should buy two to three feet of printer paper.
2. Envelopes and/or shipping boxes
If you send out snail mail and/or ship stuff, have a variety of envelopes on hand as well as boxes for shipping. Packing material can come in handy as well when you need to send out some delicate item like a Fabergé egg.
If you have employees, it’s a good idea to outfit them with notepads for taking phone messages or scribbling down notes. I always have a notepad next to me just in case I need to jot something down. It’s old school but handy.
4. Business cards
I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t have business cards yet have been in business for seven years. I don’t really need them, but most businesses do.
5. Stamps (or postage machine)
If you mail the odd letter, a roll of stamps will do. If you send out stacks of mail daily, get a postage machine that you can load up with funds as needed.
6. Letter scale
If you send out snail mail regularly, it’s handy to have a scale to weigh correspondence so you know exactly how much postage to apply.
H. Label printer
If you do send out snail mail daily, it’s worth investing in a label printer which makes it easier to print envelopes. While most photocopiers can be configured to print on envelopes, you might find it easier and faster to print on labels.
I. General Office Supplies
When I recently refurnished my office, I loaded up on office supplies. There are all kinds of goodies you can buy to outfit your desk with. Take a stroll in the aisles of Staples and before you know it, you’ll have armfuls of supplies you think you might need. I’m a bit of an office supply junkie.
1. Pens and pencils
I don’t use pens much but do once in a while and when needed, I like good pens. I love the uni-ball pens.
2. Stapler, paperclips and other clips
While I don’t have too much paper, the little bit I get I like to organize with clips and paperclips. It makes life a lot easier and helps avoid losing important documents. Every office needs a basket of items to clip.
Scissors are a must-have office supply, more for opening boxes than anything else. I loathe trying to open boxes sealed with tape.
4. Three-hole punch
If you use binders for storing docs, you definitely want a good three-hole punch.
I always have a pack or two of AA batteries for various office equipment, like my mouse. There’s nothing worse than having your mouse battery die and having no batteries on hand.
Fortunately, I have no need for binders, but many businesses still organize and store documents in binders. If this is the case, it’s good to have some binder inventory on hand.
Tape is probably not something you’ll need regularly, but when needed, it’s nice to have.
8. Paper trays
People love organization knickknacks and that’s where paper trays can come in. You know what I’m talking about – the infamous in and out trays which over time become a massive stack of random paperwork.
9. Surge Protectors
Most offices have way more stuff to plug in than they have outlets which is where power bars or tower surge protector bars come in handy. In fact, they do more than offer more outlets and USB ports… they can protect electric equipment from power surges.
I bought a whiteboard and mounted it on the wall because I find it helpful for sketching to-do lists and other things on it that I can see quickly at a glance. There’s a guy next to me with a huge 5′ x 3′ whiteboard on his wall loaded with all kinds of lists.
The whiteboard can be a very handy item in an office. Try it, you’ll like it.
K. Get-you-through-the-day stuff and Office Supplies Must Haves
1. Coffee maker
I’m fortunate in that our office sharing space includes free coffee with a coffee maker (that I don’t have to deal with) but if you aren’t so lucky, save loads of money from buying $5 Starbucks drinks and buy a small coffee maker.
2. Mug and coaster
Obviously you need something to drink your hot drinks with, so go buy a fun mug with coaster.
3. Music with headphones
I have an Apple Music subscription which is simply awesome for listening to tunes at work. Apple Podcasts are another good option. If you work in an office with other people, you probably want headphones so you don’t annoy them with your Metallica.
Most of my bookcase is dedicated to displaying artwork from my young boys. It reminds me of them and nicely spruces up the place. Photos of family and friends is another great option just to give you a nice reminder of loved ones while slaving away in the salt mines.
Again, my office sharing space includes a kitchen with fridge. If your office doesn’t have a fridge, it can be useful to get a mini-fridge for storing beverages and lunch (last night’s meatloaf).
L. Obsolete Office Equipment
You might have some of the following, but generally the following were once-upon-a-time necessities that have been replaced with new tech.
Actually, there’s a resurgence in typewriters, but that’s more for writers than offices.
We have a physical paper calendar at home where we schedule everything but for work I use a Google calendar. I think most offices rely on digital calendars that can be shared, integrated with mobile devices, send out reminders and basically do so much more than the old-school paper calendar.
3. Fax machine
I liken the fax machine to DVDs. It was a temporary tool that bridged old tech to today’s tech. The fax machine bridged snail mail to email. DVDs bridged VHS to streaming.
Pretty much every mobile device has a calculator. Google “calculator” and one magically shows up. We have calculators at our immediate disposal so cluttering up your office with one isn’t necessary.
Forty years ago, ashtrays were commonplace in offices just like the Mad Men ad agency. These days, it’s illegal to smoke in offices so the ubiquitous ashtray is history.
6. Other possible obsolete office stuff
Actually, much of what I set out could be obsolete and is in many offices. As some offices go paperless, anything to do with paper (printer, filing cabinets, binders, etc.) are obsolete. That said, the paperless office never really materialized to the degree it was suggested it would before computers reached critical mass.
M. Where to Buy
You’ve come up with the perfect plan to furnish your office, but where should you buy your office furniture? There are several ways you can get all your office furniture. Here is a list of the most popular stores selling office supplies and furniture. You’re sure to find everything you need.
Walmart was founded in July 1967 by Sam Walton in Rogers, AR. It is one of the biggest retailers in the world and offers a wide range of office products, including everything from paper and pens to desks and office chairs. Walmart also offers an impressive selection of computers, including desktops and laptops. So if your computer isn’t quite working as well as it should or needs an upgrade, check out Walmart’s selection of computers.
2. Best Buy
Source: Best Buy
Best Buy is a big-box store that offers a wide selection of electronics and other devices. The company also sells appliances, computers, and furniture. It’s one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in the United States, with more than 1,000 locations across the country.
The Best Buy Company was founded in August 1966 in Minnesota by Richard M. Schultz and his business partner. You can buy computers, monitors, printers, scanners, desks, and chairs, as well as paper and office supplies, all in one place.
3. Office Depot
Source: Office Depot
Office Depot was founded in October 1986 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Their selection of office equipment and furniture is vast. From ergonomic office chairs to filing cabinets and letter trays, they have everything you need to set up your home or office.
Whether you’re looking to furnish an entire room or just add a few items, there are a variety of options to suit your needs. Choose from numerous styles, including traditional and modern designs, as well as wood, metal, and plastic finishes.
They also carry a variety of filing cabinets, desks, and tables that come with convenient features such as locking drawers and adjustable shelving systems.
Staples was founded in May 1986 in Boston, MA. Whether you’re looking for office furniture, computer accessories, or technology services, Staples has everything you need to keep your business running smoothly.
Besides office equipment, Staples also has office furniture and supplies, as well as technology services such as data recovery, laptop repair, and printer repair so you can get the most out of your electronics investment. Whether you need a new office chair or desk lamp, they have the products you need to improve your workspace.
5. The Home Depot
Office furniture is the perfect way to add a touch of elegance and class to your office. When you choose office furniture, it’s important to get the right pieces that suit your needs. The Home Depot’s selection of office furniture includes everything from desks and chairs in contemporary designs to filing cabinets and storage options.
The Home Depot was started in July 1978 in Marrieta, GA. It is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,300 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The company employs more than 380,000 associates.
Wayfair opened in 2002 as an eCommerce store and was previously known as CSN. They offer an assortment of desks that will fit any budget or style preference — whether you prefer wood or metal legs, sleek modern designs, or traditional styles with ornate details.
Shopping for office furniture on Wayfair is easy because they offer so many different types of furniture at affordable prices. From desks and computer chairs to filing cabinets and storage cabinets, they have everything you need to outfit your office with comfortable and efficient workstations.
IKEA is the world’s leading home furnishings retailer with 466 stores in 63 countries, which are visited by 783 million people every year. IKEA has been present in India since 2014 and plans to open 25 stores across the country by 2025.
Considered an international chain of furniture stores, IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943. In addition to its core furniture range, it also offers a wide selection of various other household goods. IA 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad and his business partner Ernst Billgren were both interested in selling items at low prices. They opened their first store in Älmhult, Sweden.
There are many different types of office equipment that can help make your business more efficient, and there is no right answer as to which one is best! It all depends on your needs and budget.
N. Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best cheap office supplies to add to your setup?
- Cellphone Stand
- Mesh Desk Organizer
- Office Supply Kit
Almost everything you need in one package
- Bulk Stationery
It’s a good idea to store office supplies in quantity so that you’ll be prepared for the long-term or simply not run short.
- Mini Coffee Station
If you’re going to be working from home, you’ll need a way of making coffee whenever you want.
- Coffee Mug Warmer
To avoid bad-tasting cold coffee, use a cup warmer or any mug warmer for that matter.
- Corner Plant or Desk Plant
The benefits of having houseplants in your home office go far beyond the aesthetic appeal. It helps keep the air fresh and ultimately proves beneficial to our health.
What home office supplies do I need to work from home?
- Lap Desk
For those who prefer to work from the comfort of their couch or recliner, a lap desk is important.
- Noise-canceling Headset
Get into the work groove with noise-canceling headphones, which allow you to focus on your work without interruptions.
- Mouse and Keyboard
To keep your hands safe, whether you’re working on a laptop or a desktop computer, you’ll need to invest in a decent mouse and keyboard.
- Task Light
Your eyesight depends on the quality of light in your home office, so investing in a desk lamp is worth it.
- Surge Protector
For those days when you are locked into work and stretching your legs to make a fresh cup of coffee isn’t feasible.
- Fire Safe Box
There is no such thing as being too cautious, especially when dealing with material that is of importance.
What office supplies are needed to start a business?
- Printer paper
- File folder
- Paper Clip
- Adhesive Tape
- Marker Pen
- Post-it Notes
- Ink Cartridge
- Packing Tape
- Printing and Writing Paper
- Binder Clip
- Staple Remover
What office supplies do I need for college?
- Lap Desk
- Desk Organizer
- Desk Shelf
- Desk Lamp
- Power Strip
- Sticky Notes
What should my budget be when getting new office equipment?
The average monthly office supply costs for a small business are between $77 and $92 in the United States and Canada. The money you allocate for office supplies will be influenced by your own company’s size, nature, and operational costs budget, so don’t feel obligated to stick to this norm. Because of this, it is important to set a budget based on what is necessary and what is affordable.
Are office supplies a tax write-off?
Yes! Regardless of whether we work from home or not, as self-employed individuals, we can deduct office costs on Schedule C (Form 1040). You can claim this deduction for everything from office supplies to postage to computers and printers.
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