Office Equipment Tips

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Why should I shop online instead of driving to an office supply store?

Advantages of Using Online Office Supply Stores

Depending on your location and budget, here are a few advantages to purchasing office supplies on line versus going to the physical store.

  1. Convenience. No gas, mileage, or physical effort required.
  2. Security. Reputable office supply stores make on line purchasing extremely safe.
  3. Product Availability. Orders placed on line typically come from a warehouse with a much larger inventory than a local store.
  4. Comparison Charts. Imagine holding up two printer boxes side-by-side at the store to compare features. Now imagine that you are comparing 6 different printers. Comparing on line via a chart takes up far less time.
  5. Discounts for Shopping Online. Many stores are beginning to offer discounts to drive consumers to the Web.
The above are just a few advantages to consider before buying offline or online. Online may be the most convenient and affordable route to travel.

What types of high tech office equipment are available today?

High Tech Office Equipment for the 2000's

To qualify for the label "high tech" in today's society, the word "wireless" must be prominent in all your bragging. Thanks to wireless cards for laptops and innovators like Bluetooth, connectivity and communication are more fluid than they ever have been. Good examples of high tech office equipment include:

  1. Wireless Internet connectivity for computing and cell phones (via wireless routers or cards) so you can do your work just about anywhere
  2. Bluetooth enabled data transfer devices so you can communicate with another person's PDA device without having to plug a thing in.
  3. One headphone device for a multitude of receivers.
  4. Blackberry devices are a must in Corporate America for instant email, text messaging and note-taking
Wireless is the way of today. To be considered "in" you should be able to do your job seamlessly from the comfort of a Starbuck's coffee house patio or an airport terminal. Are you "in"?

How can I make more desk space at the office?

Simplify Your Business with Portable Office Equipment

Not so long ago, the typical office worker's desk would be consumed by a huge monitor, printer, phone system, and larger than life equipment like faxes and scanners. But times have changed, and today, you can "go portable" and not only take your office with you at the end of the day, but have less equipment to consume your desk.

What are some typical features of a small business phone system?

Features to Look for in a Small Business Phone System

The tech world is littered with latest and greatest phone systems for small businesses to choose from. To narrow down the selection, consider the following criteria:

  1. Is the phone system affordable?
  2. Does it offer features that my company needs? (Such as voice mail, auto attendants, dial-by-name directory and call routing?)
  3. Is VoIP available on the system?
  4. Can the CEO have a remote extension for his or her cell phone?
  5. Can the system be installed by the customer or does the customer have to pay for installation?
These are a few of the primary considerations to factor in when purchasing a small business phone system. Many systems are complex and require a phone system room which you need to account for and also to train your employees on utilizing all the functions of the phone. Choose a dealer willing to support you through the transition and one who has a quick response time if there are technical problems with your phone system.

What are the HIPAA regulations for document disposal?

Document Disposal

There are many rules and regulations about confidential document disposal including that of doctor's offices and medical facilities. Paper shredders play an important part in keeping with these regulations, however, medical offices must also keep media locked and secured at all times to keep with HIPAA regulations.You can either pay a company to dispose of these documents or use a shredder yourself. There are large office sized shredding machines that can manage large loads of paper or desktop shredders that fit over a waste basket to help you shred as needed. Be sure that your employees understand what documents must be shredded in order to protect your company.

Which shredders are HIPAA compliant and why use a shredder?

Choosing HIPAA Compliant Shredders

The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) doesn't mandate a minimum shred size. However, several brands should be considered more in alignment with HIPAA regulations based not only on shred size, but also on speed and the disposal company (such as Shred It).

Also consider that HIPPA mandates privacy of other media formats as well, including floppy disks, CD-ROM, and data DVDs. A good quality shredder will be able to shred these types of formats easily.

Once you've chosen a name brand quality shredder, the next step is to find a reputable disposal company. Seek out a company that values HIPAA regulations and will provide references.

What should I look for when purchasing a home office system?

How to Choose an Office Phone System

Here are some buying tips to consider when purchasing a new office phone system:

  • Save money with a used system: Buying used or refurbished phone systems is a smart business move in saving money. Most equipment is well engineered and lasts for years, so you are generally safe buying used phones systems.
  • Prioritize your features. Determine which features are important so you don't find yourself over or under equipped.
  • Find a reputable dealer: You will need assistance for installing and programming most phone systems. Once you've determined the type of system you want, finding a good phone dealer is key.
  • Consider VoIP phone systems. The latest in computer telephony - Voice over IP (VoIP) technology - allows businesses to place and receive calls using the Internet. VoIP is perfect if your business has remote workers. It can really help to keep you connected and keep your overall costs down.
  • Consider voice mail compatibility. Make sure your phone system can work with a wide range of third-party voice mail systems. This keeps your voice mail options open and minimize the chance of your getting stuck with an inferior or overpriced voice mail system.
  • Overwire. If you need to wire up your office for the phone system, install more wiring than you need to handle your current needs. Phone system experts suggest that you double the wiring you currently need. Although it adds to the cost of installation, it's a huge savings if you might need to add wires later.

What types of office equipment should I consider for my new office?

Planning an Office: Prioritizing Your Equipment and Upgrades

Determine your needs for your office equipment when starting out your business. Start with a list of what you need to get started, and then create a wish list of what you would like to have as part of your growth plan.

Your office may start off small and require that users share computers or have low end equipment and mismatched equipment in the early days. Choosing a growth plan that enables you to buy new equipment is a good idea but you need to prioritize, especially if you have a small budget while you are growing.

Your business growth depends on your success and the management of your funds so budget wisely for your office furniture.

Where can I find discount office furniture?

Being an Informed Bargain Hunter

Discount office furniture deals are often advertised in local newspapers. Many office supply dealers also have sales on returns or damaged items. You may be able to get a substantial discount on your purchase if the box is damaged due to a return or because of a small scratch.

When buying discount office furniture on clearance, be sure that you are aware of the return or exchange policy. Many of these sales are final sale only which means that you can not return the item. Check to ensure any item that needs assembly contains all relevant pieces. Be fully aware of any damage on the item before leaving the store.Discounts may be readily available after holiday's as well and after the back to school rush is over. It's a great idea to stock up on supplies or take advantage of sales at these times for more major purchases like desks and chairs.

What can I do with old, yet still useable office equipment?

Donating Old Office Equipment to Charity

When upgrading your internal office equipment such as computers, monitors, laptops and printers, consider donating your old equipment to charity. There are many charitable organizations that will benefit from using your older, but still useable equipment. Public schools, local libraries, daycare centers, community recreation centers, community job search offices as well as other charitable organizations can benefit from using your computer office equipment and you, as a company, can benefit from the tax write offs as well as building a positive community profile.

Many charitable organizations will pick up your donations and issue a tax receipt. It's very important to be sure that when you donate old equipment such as a personal computer or server that you completely erase the hard drive to protect confidential information. There are special software programs available to help you, as simply hitting the delete key may not be enough.
Some companies rarely upgrade office equipment but others upgrade on such a constant basis that they are often spending more money on their IT budget than necessary. Ask for a technology evaluation from your IT supplier to help you keep pace with your infrastructure needs while not overdoing it and spending money needlessly.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer