If you’re planning to start a business, you’ll need to give some thought to establishing an office from which to plan and manage that business. From computers to copiers, modern offices require several different types of equipment, furniture and supplies to function efficiently. Office equipment falls into a few categories, based on its function in the office.

What is Office Equipment?

The term “office equipment” includes any long-term asset that is used to conduct administrative or office-related tasks. So, the category is very broad. In fact, it's often easier for accounting and tax purposes to consider what is excluded from office equipment. Notably, office supplies and office furniture are typically categorized and tracked separately from office equipment. Office supplies include materials that you would normally expect to consume and replace more regularly. Examples would include items such as letterhead and other stationery, business cards and the like. Desks, desk chairs, guest or client seating, tables and other furniture are included in the office furniture category.

Computer Equipment

Modern offices invest substantially in computer equipment because staying connected both internally and to the world is usually a mission-critical need. Most offices will need multiple desktop and laptop computers, as well as printers to create hard copies of letters, agreements and other documents. Offices may also need to turn hard copies of documents into digital files. Scanners and cables to connect the device to a computer are required for such tasks. Digital cameras, projectors for presentations and image printers may also be required.

Communications Equipment

Business offices depend heavily on their ability to communicate with other departments or locations in the same business, as well as other businesses, clients and vendors. Telephones also help connect office workers with each other internally, which helps increase productivity by cutting down on walking time to relay quick messages. Interoffice communications also help foster a more professional image to office visitors.

While fax machines are used less in business offices than in the past, some businesses still require their use for transmittal of hard-copy documents that cannot be scanned. This is more commonly found in offices that handle secure, sensitive or confidential paper records, such as law firms and medical offices.

If an office requires a substantial amount of document preparation, especially correspondence, it may be prudent to invest in dictation equipment in order to make it easier for administrative assistants to process and create hard copies of letters and other dictated documents. Other communications equipment a business office may need include cordless telephones, answering machines, Bluetooth headsets, cellular devices or smartphones, tape recorders, video recording and display equipment and televisions or display monitors.

General Office Equipment

Other equipment may also be required by offices. File cabinets are important for maintaining copies of documents that must be kept on the premises, either for safekeeping or easy reference. For the same reason, a fireproof safe can secure valuables and sensitive original documents.

Some pieces of equipment are so ubiquitous that almost all offices will need them and make regular use of them. For example, the photocopier helps offices create necessary duplicates of documents that the business must create for partners and clients, such as correspondence and agreements or contracts. Paper shredders are also necessary in order to properly dispose of sensitive, proprietary or otherwise confidential information in a secure manner.

Offices may also need other general equipment such as postage meters to process outgoing mail, a label-maker for storage needs and whiteboards for planning and strategy sessions.