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How to Set Up an Office: The Complete Guide

If you’re moving offices or opening a new one, there can be an overwhelming number of things to consider. Use this checklist for how to set up an office to help you plan.

If your business is moving into a new office space, it's time to start thinking about your office setup. Deciding how to set up an office in a new location requires time, budgeting, and careful planning. With a solid checklist to prepare for your new office setup, though, getting ready to move in doesn't need to be as stressful as you might think.
Instead, simplify the process by creating a personalized step-by-step plan and following it as you bring your vision to life. If you’re a business owner, you should already be familiar with the process of outlining and completing steps to realize your plans!
We're here to help you outline a personalized checklist for a new office setup. This checklist will help you cover your bases—everything from the office layout to office equipment and services.

4-Step Checklist for a New Office Setup

To keep the process of setting up your new office stress-free and streamlined, we’ve broken this checklist into four easy steps. It's best to make a personalized checklist for your new office setup using a notebook or app as you go through this list.
Write down and expand upon relevant things, and leave out anything that doesn't pertain to your business. And if anything specific to your business or industry is missing, work it into the appropriate section.
You’ll be able to use your personalized checklist for a new office setup to simplify the process of moving to a new work environment. It's easier to relax through the transition when you're not worried about forgetting essential details.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Brainstorm before you move into your new office.
The initial brainstorming session will help you understand your business needs. It's often best to do this before choosing a new location, but it's worth doing even after you've signed the paperwork.
In this step, list items your business will need in the new office, as well as any services you'll need. This helps give you a rough overview of the tasks you need to complete. It's a must for businesses of all sizes, from startups and small businesses to large corporations with hundreds of employees.


Below are some of the most common office essentials that businesses will need:
  • Office chairs
  • Computers
  • Desks
  • Stationary
  • Internet service provider
  • Business phones
  • Phone systems
  • IT Equipment
We'll look at each of these items in more detail later in the article. As you go, feel free to make notes, research the speed and reliability of local internet service providers, or estimate how many phones, desks, and chairs you'll need. While not necessary, extra notes can make your job easier when you're actively setting up a new office.

Optional Services and Supplies

Next, make a list of any other services and supplies you'll want in the new business location. Again, these are often conditional based on your business model, size, or location.
Here are some common optional services and supplies that you might need:
  • Answering service: You may need an automated receptionist or an after-hours answering service.
  • Snack and drinks: Determine whether to provide employees with free snacks and beverages, or if they will need to be responsible for bringing those items in themselves.
  • Security: Decide on your security measures to protect your office against theft, burglary, vandalism, unauthorized access, and extortion. Security might include video surveillance, security staff, an alarm system, metal detectors, or key card entry systems.
  • Office supplies: Look for ways to get those important office supplies delivered to your new location. Consider items like desktop organizers, copy paper, business cards, staplers, recycling bins, and any supplies you don't have.
You may want to conduct this brainstorm session alongside the members of upper management for multiple perspectives. Small businesses might consider asking employees or IT professionals to fill out a brief list of things and services they anticipate needing, too. It's not necessary, but if you're a new business owner, this helps ensure you don't miss anything.
Take time to list everything you will need, even if the items seem too small to include. For example, there’s nothing like realizing that you're missing copy paper and pens on the first day at the new office.

Existing Office Considerations

If you're moving from an existing office, you might also want to make a list for that location. This list can include items you need to move to the new office and the order you plan to move them. A detailed inventory of items like office desks and supplies can save you money when you place orders for new things you need.

Step 2: Design the Floor Plan

How to design a floor plan in the office.
Once you have a list of everything you need, it's time to pick a layout for your office space. You’ll need to choose a design before determining how much furniture you need to buy and what you need.
The best layout for your new office will depend on your business and the number of employees you have. You'll want to think about what equipment is used frequently, which departments or employees work together regularly, and how much space you have available.
Most businesses will choose one of three basic layouts. Each layout has different benefits, so choose one that reflects your business's needs.

Open Plan

An open plan is created with large desks in an open area with chairs positioned along each side to create workstations. It's the best option for maximizing space, and it encourages collaborative work between employees.
The cons to an open plan are that you sacrifice employee personal storage and privacy.

Closed Plan

A closed plan is a cubicle layout, giving each person a single desk and chair with partition walls around each one. This layout is good for independent work that requires more concentration than collaboration. In addition, each partitioned workspace offers maximum employee personal storage and privacy.
The cons to a closed plan are that it takes up the most space and does not encourage collaboration.

Modular Plan

A modular plan is made by grouping desks in clusters. It's a versatile combination of the open and closed plan. You can add dividers between the desks or keep them open, giving employees a balance of privacy, storage, space, and collaboration. This is the most flexible and customizable plan, and it's a popular choice in today's offices.

Other Space Considerations

You want to plan your office layout efficiently to meet your business's every need. It should be easy to move around in your office, with frequently used files and equipment within reach.
Here are some other space considerations to keep in mind:
  • Break room: It's nice to give employees a break room offering coffee, drinks, snacks, and tables for relaxation. You might also want to add a refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher.
  • Conference room: Most businesses will require a conference space for regular team meetings and one-on-one meetings (e.g., interviews or HR reviews).
  • Dressing room: Some businesses with field and service workers provide a dressing room for employees to change into work clothes and even showers.
  • Exercise room: To keep employees healthy and fit, some businesses like to include an exercise room with a treadmill, stationary bike, and room for yoga or stretching.
  • IT equipment rooms: Your business may need a server room or space to fulfill other IT requirements.
  • Lactation room: Your business may be required to provide a lactation room for new moms. It should be a quiet space, and it can't be in the bathroom.
  • Visitors: If your business will have visitors, you might need a formal entrance and reception area, a comfortable waiting room, a separate meeting room, or other accommodations.
If you're having trouble with your floor plan, or just want to hand it off to someone else, we can help. We offer complimentary, custom space plans at zero charge to you. We'll make it easy for you to visualize where to put desks, workstations, tables, and more so that you feel confident you've chosen the best layout for your business' needs.

Step 3: Set Up Communications

How to set up communications in the office.
This step covers communication equipment and services you may need to have installed with your office setup. First, consider the methods that people use or will use to contact your business, such as email, chat, mobile devices, or landlines.

Internet Service Provider

Start with your internet service provider, as broadband internet connection will facilitate much of the communications within your office. Find a provider that is fast and reliable, and schedule installation promptly. It’s safe to say nearly all of today's businesses cannot function without a fast and reliable Wi-Fi or wired broadband connection.

Communications Equipment

After you've secured the internet service provider, it's time to install communications equipment. Here are some communications options you might need to consider:
  • Phone systems: Many of today's small businesses use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services instead of traditional phone systems. These allow integration with mobile phones instead of physical phone lines, saving on installation fees. You may also want to provide employees with business mobile phones to ensure they're always reachable. The best VoIP phone services can answer calls received on your business phone number and provide services like auto-attendants, voicemail, and call waiting, hold, and transfer.
  • Internal communications: Internal communication is essential, especially if you have some employees working from home. Some excellent internal communication software options even have a free option (e.g., Slack).
  • Other communication items: Some businesses may need communication software for email, video conferencing, project management, or appointment scheduling. You might also need a shredder for employee privacy, as well as projectors or TV screens for visual presentations.
Always research modern options for items like fax machines, bulky photocopiers, and landlines. You don't want to install things you don't need. For example, if you plan to be cloud-based, you might not need a huge copy and fax machine. Instead, online fax services and cloud-based file sharing and storage can fill the need.

IT Equipment

Your business may have IT requirements necessitating the extensive installation of cabling, servers, and power supply equipment. In addition, each piece of equipment may have specific temperature requirements, requiring ventilation and cooling systems. And if you're upgrading from an existing office, your IT department might require an upgrade.

Stationery & Storage

Your stationery helps create your brand image, and it should be consistent across the board. On your move date, you'll want to put stationery with your new address into circulation, discontinuing any that feature outdated information. This includes any company letter templates, envelopes, business cards, etc., and is worth including in your office move checklist.
You should also shop for stationery storage items before you move in so that your employees have ample space to organize their items and papers in their new office. This includes desktop organizers, pencil holders, paper trays, and filing cabinets.

Step 4: Buy Equipment and Furniture

How to pick furniture for your new office.
Once you have your office layout and installations finished, you're ready to choose the best office furniture and equipment for your business's needs and budget. Depending on your business, this may mean different things. For example, moving from a home office into a new office is much different than if you're simply adding to the existing office chairs, desks, and partitions you already own.
It's helpful to buy all of your office furniture from the same provider to cut costs and save time. For example, our Design My Office quiz helps you find the best furniture options for your unique business needs. The same is often true for computer companies and other equipment suppliers.

Office Chairs

Good office chairs promote healthy, happy employees. Your staff likely spends most of their day in their chair (40 hours per week is about 2,000 hours per year), and you can show that you value them by investing in their comfort. We recommend buying the best office chairs you can afford, as comfortable employees tend to be more productive.
The three main types of office chairs include:
  • Task chairs: A task chair is intended for shorter use and can be moved around easily for meetings. They're usually compact with limited adjustment features.
  • Mid-back chairs: Mid-back chairs offer the support needed for full-time office workers who need comfortable desk chairs. These chairs offer more adjustment features and better lumbar support.
  • Executive chairs: Executive chairs provide additional points of adjustment and often have plush, supportive cushions. They typically come with extra luxury features and a more ergonomic design.
Mid-back and executive chairs with good ergonomic design work best for most offices. Task chairs work well for meeting rooms and temporary workstations.

Office Desks

The right office desks will depend on your office design. Open plans work well with simple rectangular tables that easily group together. On the other hand, you might opt for L-shaped desks, double standing desks, or quad desks for a modular plan. And for a closed plan, L-shaped desks or standing desks are likely ideal.
Note that desks that convert to standing height are popular among employees who spend a lot of time sitting. And you want each employee to have more than a work surface — each person needs enough desk space to spread out and comfortably work.

Computers and Phones

Whether you're letting employees choose their own computers or providing a uniform set to employees, your first choice is the operating system (OS). Apple OS X is ideal for marketing and design businesses with heavy graphics, editing, video, gaming, or desktop publishing needs. Windows OS is suitable for using Microsoft Office Suite and businesses that need a flexible platform.
Additionally, assuming you're not letting employees choose, you need to decide whether you want desktop or laptop computers. Desktops offer better performance and storage while laptops are portable, so think about how your employees work to decide.  

Storage and Other Items

Filing cabinets, desk lamps, floor lamps, eye-strain filters, curtains, signage, and other items may be necessary, depending on your business and location. For example, if your company has plenty of natural light and built-in light sources, you may not need floor lamps. But in the case of natural light, you might need curtains or anti-glare filters instead.
Consider your business's various needs and refer back to the comprehensive brainstorm list you made in the beginning. This will help you be sure you're not missing anything.
If you need to buy workstation accessories, consider purchasing them from the company where you buy your furniture. For example, we can provide chairs, desks, storage solutions, accessories, and other workplace furniture. Even more, we can deliver and install everything so that you don’t have to lift a finger.

Preparing for Moving Day

The easy part is done once you know how to set up your new office. Now it's time to work through each step of your personalized checklist so you can breathe life into your office. As your moving day gets closer, it's essential to refer back to your checklist for your new office set up so you don't forget anything.
A seamless move with all of your bases covered is the secret to keeping it stress-free. And if you’re having trouble at any step of the way—maybe you are debating between floorplans, or deciding which ergonomic chairs to buy—feel free to reach out to us on our corporate teams page. We’ll do everything in our power to make your move easy.

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