A Business Week article in June 1975 introduced the idea of the paperless office. However, offices still use paper and in many instances, large amounts of paper products. And with the growth of home businesses and home offices, more and more paper is being used. Responsible management of the office stationery not only involves knowing what to buy and where to store the stationery, but also how to reduce its use, how to reuse old stationery and how to recycle stationery.
Take inventory of what stationery the office already has by making a list of each type (files, paper pads, letterhead, etc) and the amount of each. Look in the designated stationery storage space if there is one, and ask people what they have in their desks.
Ask people what types of stationery they currently use and how much they estimate they’ll use in the next three months. Start a master list. Also, find out what stationery people would like that is not yet available to them.
Compare the master list of what people will need in the next three months to the list of what stationery is already available in the office.
Consider reusing stationery that is only partially used. Cut down paper that has writing or photocopying only on one side and bind or clip it together to form notepads. Distribute old business cards for people to make notes or lists on. Use old envelopes to hold receipts or as file folders. Encourage people to develop their own ways to reuse paper.
Choose where to purchase the stationery supplies by comparing prices. Check whether the suppliers offer discounts for bulk purchases and whether they offer a frequent buyer card for additional savings. Compare prices for custom printed company letterhead. The prices of a local printer might be comparable to that of a large stationery chain store.
Set aside a space to store the office stationery. This may be a cupboard or just drawer in a filing cabinet. Decide on a method for how the office workers will access the stationery. If dispensing stationery will be controlled, assign one person to keep the key and develop a system where people must sign out whatever stationery they take. Arrange the stationery in the space, keeping similar items together.
Set up a schedule to regularly check the stock of stationery and reorder supplies. Subscribe to the newsletters of your suppliers to stay informed of any promotions or sales.
Set up recycle bins for used stationery and encourage people to use them. Shred any paper containing confidential information and take all the paper to your local recycling center.
Christina Ash has been writing since 1982, throughout her career as a computer consultant, anthropologist and small-business owner. She has published work in various business, technology, academia and popular books and journals. Ash has degrees in computer science, anthropology and science and technology studies from universities in England, Canada and the United States.