Experts Say These 5 Basic Technologies Are Essential for Every Business Office
Setting up a modern business office involves many decisions. From furniture and décor to computers and networking there’s a lot to know. Your choice in electronics is most important, since it’s likely to have the greatest impact on productivity and it changes rapidly. Fortunately, there may be only a handful of items that you’re almost certain to need in your new office, unless it’s very large.
Start Simple and Build From There
Today’s plug-and-play nature of most connected technology means most people with average technology skills can set up a basic working business office. At the least, you are almost certain to need these items:
- Internet connection and Wi-Fi
- Paper shredder
Depending on the size and nature of your office, you may also need a wired local area network (LAN), projector and mailing equipment. However, just because the office next door has fancy 3D printers and workstation computers doesn’t mean you automatically need them as well. You want to target your initial investment towards items that will directly increase productivity.
The most important division between computers is Mac versus PC. This choice can be tricky but there is a rule-of-thumb: choose what you (or your employees) are familiar with. Beyond that, there are some important differences that could impact your decision.
PCs are more flexible, cost less for the same computational power and are, to some degree, an industry standard in a business office. Macs are expensive and much more limited in choices, but they certainly create a higher-status image. They’re also more intuitive for design-oriented jobs or Photoshop-type applications. Plus, they’re lower maintenance and are more resistant to malware.
You also need to decide if you need desktop or laptops. A desktop computer is far more powerful for the same price but isn’t portable, whereas laptops and notebooks are great for working outside the office or while traveling. Chances are you’ll need both, but for work that will occur in one place, always choose a desktop over a laptop.
Networking and Wi-Fi
Unless you have a single-desk, one-person operation, you’ll probably need a network. Even working alone is usually more efficient when you have a Wi-Fi connection for your smart devices. An unconnected computer often isn’t much more helpful than an abacus these days, and there is an expectation for business professionals to be available well beyond work hours, so staying connected is essential.
In a small office, Wi-Fi can be as easy to set up as plugging in a router. However, once you move beyond a couple rooms, you’ll probably need to bridge several routers together or take other steps to carry the signal throughout the working area.
Setting up a LAN is also usually essential. Your printer, fax machine and many other devices often need to be connected to be efficient – or to work at all. A wired network is also faster and safer than Wi-Fi, and these two technologies complement each other. Setting up a simple LAN can be relatively easy, but large-scale jobs usually means getting a professional to install it.
Information Technology Is Leveling the Playing Field
Relying on old methods of doing business is like trying to stay competitive using horse-and-buggies. Think about the last time you tried doing business with a company that was experiencing a computer outage! Digital tech has taken over most operations – often creating a higher starting cost but enormously paying off in the medium- and long-term. The right technology in your workplace will dramatically streamline operations, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, and increase floor space.
The internet long ago ceased to be a business novelty. Customers expect to see an online presence, and with simple software you can easily maintain it on your work computers. A major benefit of this is that small, local businesses can stay surprisingly competitive with global behemoths.
Carefully consider what services your office needs to supply and what you need at a minimum to provide good service. Some of these decisions can seem daunting but be decisive! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (if you learn from them), but also try to avoid buying technology that seems fancy but has many features you aren’t likely to need.
The industrial revolution pulled people out of their homes and into massive factories. The internet revolution is starting to reverse the flow, in many cases making small or home offices with a single computer highly efficient and flexible for rapidly changing markets.