SMEs and tech: Ensuring your small business has the right equipment

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Understand the essential items that every office needs

Managing a small business can be one of the most rewarding enterprises an individual ever takes on, but in order to make a company successful, it is important to invest in those essential pieces of kit that can help make any office run as smoothly as possible.

It's not just about owning those items that will make the day-to-day running of the company that much easier though, as having the right equipment in place to streamline processes can also be a significant step towards improving a company's bottom line.

With this in mind, here we examine some of those essential pieces of kit that will not only ensure staff are able to carry out their responsibilities with ease, they will also be able to do so with the minimum expense.

Office environment

All offices need furniture, this is a fact. But how best do you set up an office environment? Is open plan the way to go or would staff members work more productively with a space to call their own?

These are the types of questions managers must ask themselves when creating a place where staff can work in the most effective manner possible and in order to achieve this, a business will have to invest.

Desks, comfortable chairs, filing cabinets - unless a company has gone paperless - seating for clients, meeting room furniture, telephone systems and equipment like projectors are just some of the basics that most offices will require.

Access to the internet is also something company bosses should be aware of when kitting out an office and this is something that should be considered before the lease on a property is even taken out, as connection speeds can vary widely from area to area.

A slow connection might not seem like a deal breaker at first, but if staff are unable to carry out their tasks as efficiently due to poor broadband speeds, this could be a decision that has a significant bearing on a company's future.

Invest in IT

One of the biggest expenses associated with the effective running of a small business is often in the realm of IT, but in the modern, connected business landscape, providing staff members with the latest technologies to allow them to do their jobs - and to do them more efficiently - is often a must.

As such, business leaders should consider such equipment as desktop computers or laptops, printers, scanners and photocopiers as must-have items for the modern company.

Staff members will indeed benefit from having access to the latest IT systems, as this can often help them to work more efficiently, while it can also make the process of data management and storage that much easier for a business if everything is stored digitally.

Investment in IT safety and security is also essential for modern companies and this means a focus on areas like anti-virus software for all computers and networks, while companies should invest in training their staff in line with data security best practice.

Many companies are now embracing the use of flexible working and this can have an important impact on IT budgets and security also.

Businesses need to be sure that the equipment that is being used to access closed internal networks is secure at all times, while managers might also want to consider the installation of laptop ports at their desks - which can enable workers to use the same computer both in the office and elsewhere with a minimum of fuss.

Remember the basics

Moreover, no office will be able to run efficiently without a few basics, and taking the time to fully understand the daily needs of staff will certainly help in this area.

Things like stationery, printer cartridge refills, a radio, paper shredder, waste baskets, fire extinguishers and cleaning supplies are all items that may not be as glamorous as the latest laptop, but they are still things that will help a company's offices run smoothly and should not be overlooked.

In addition, all offices should have a first aid kit in case of a minor injury to a member of staff, while there should be at least one person trained in first aid who can administer medical assistance if needed.

Finally, managers should also remember an office has potential security issues away from the world of online cyber threats, with the more humdrum real-world risks of break-ins or theft also meaning companies must invest in effective security systems, like alarms and CCTV.

Ultimately, this guide is really just a starting point to help business leaders understand the myriad things that need to be in place to operate an efficient office environment. Getting the right equipment can help to make the difference between success and failure for a small business, so it pays for leaders to do their homework and invest in the areas that are most applicable to them.