It’s off to work we go 

It’s the beginning of the new year and all over the country people are returning to work and school. Put your best foot forward by ensuring you have the best tools for the job at hand.

Paper perfect 

Paper cubes
Paper cubes are handy boxes of paper that have been cut to a uniform size (usually 7,5cm x 7,5cm). They are ideal for having next to the telephone so you can jot down messages, phone numbers and other information to pass on to someone else. Paper cubes and their refills come in a range of colours, including plain white, pastel or neon colours, or in mixed colours. The paper cube itself has a cut-away on the front so that the paper is easy to access even when the paper is nearing the box of the box. A paper cube refill usually comes in 600 sheets. 

Post-it notes
Post-it notes (or sticky notes) are small pieces of paper with a re-adherable strip of glue at the back. This pressure-sensitive adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached, removed and re-posted a few times without leaving residue. They are made for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces, and are available in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes.  Post-it note dispensers are ideal for the office environment as they provide an easily-accessible box to house the notes, preventing clutter.

It is a good idea for any office to carry a range of envelopes for use on a daily basis. Envelopes can be padded with additional material, such as bubble wrap, for fragile items. These are used most often for posting multiple items. Normal envelopes are unpadded. Some of them have a clear window through which the address is displayed. The envelope flap may be on the top or along the side of the envelope.
Envelopes come in a vast array of sizes. A letter-sized envelope is usually 110mm × 220mm. These take a sheet of A4 paper folded into three, and are ideal for posting letters. Other useful sizes to have are A5 (162mm x 229mm) and A4 (229mm × 324mm). 
Envelopes are usually white or brown, but can be found in every colour of the rainbow. Some envelopes have an adhesive gum on the back that requires a liquid (such as saliva) to make it sticky. Others are self-adhesive, and come with a strip which you peel off to expose the sticky area.

Business cards
Business cards are a must for most employees as it is an easy and convenient way to give out necessary information about a business, while displaying the company’s identity. Traditional business cards measure 89mm x 50mm and are made from card that is usually 300gsm. When having a business card designed, remember that it should ideally be able to fit into a wallet without falling into the fold. If your business card is bigger than a bank card, it is unlikely to fit into a wallet.

Top tech aids

Mouse pads 
A mouse pad is a useful and convenient tool for those who use a mouse every day. It works by providing the mouse with a better surface to move over, preventing jitters. Modern mouse pads are typically made of lesser-density rubber composites with fabric bonded to the upper surface. However, many other types of material have been used, including fabric, plastics, recycled rubber tyres, silicone rubber, leather, glass, cork, wood, aluminium, stone and stainless steel. 
Some mouse pads include a padded wrist rest to.

3G modems 
These are extremely useful tools for workers who are on the move. Available from most computer shops, 3G modems require SIM cards to work because they connect to a cellular network rather ADSL Internet. Many businesses take out contracts with cellular providers in order to get preferential rates.
Modems have an internal antenna with which to acquire signal, but they can be purchased with additional external antennae for use in areas with poorer signal. 

A stylus is a hard, pointed tool used as a method of input on touchscreen-enabled devices, such as tablet PCs, to accurately navigate menus. It is useful in dirty environments as it helps to prevent the device’s screen from getting dirty. Styluses are also used by courier companies so their customers can sign electronic delivery forms. 
Many smartphones have a built-in stylus which tucks in behind the back cover. Some styluses may extend and contract into small, pen-like cylinders
Styluses can be passive (or capacitive) which means that they act just like a finger when touching a screen. There is no electronic communication between a passive stylus and a device. 
An active stylus includes electronic components that communicate with the touchscreen controller on a device. Active pens are typically used for note taking, on-screen drawing/painting and electronic document annotation.  
These styluses can be found in many different styles.

Wrist rests
Wrist supports are essential for employees who spend most of their day using a mouse or typing at a keyboard. The additional supports provided by a wrist rest can minimise pain and mitigate the onset of carpel tunnel syndrome. Wrist rests can be small and square to fit in front of a mouse, or long and rectangular to fit in front  of a keyboard. They are usually made of durable, comfortable materials such as high-quality foam or silicon.

Copy holders 
Also known as typing stands, these useful 1items attach to a desk or computer and are used by administrative staff that need to read from and type out documents while working on a computer. Some copy holders are standalone itemsIn general, a copy holder offers vertical or horizontal rotation, line guides for easy place-holding and clips to hold documents in place.  

Computer stands 
Computer stands are essential for the correct positioning of the head and neck for anyone who uses a computer all day. They ensure ergonomic positioning of the body, which helps to decrease aches and pains while boosting productivity. 
A simple computer stand is available in the form of a laptop tilt. These are ergonomically angled pieces of moulded plastic which allow ventilation of the device. 
A more complicated computer stand holds a computer screen, allowing it to be lifted via an adjustable arm. The screen is then angled in an ergonomic fashion, or rotated vertically or horizontally. iPad covers also provide an upright stand adjustment, allowing the device to stand vertically on the desk for easy reading. This  relieves both neck and back strain.

These handy devices allow for the charging of multiple devices at once. Especially useful for mobile work environments, they offer high-speed charging for multiple devices at once. They can be device agnostic and work in a range of environments, such as vehicles. They keep the modern worker connected at all times.

Docking stations
A docking station (or port replicator) provides a simplified way of “plugging-in” an electronic device to common peripherals. Docks are not standardised because of the wide range of dockable devices, which all have different connectors, power signalling and uses. Bear in mind the types of devices you have when choosing a docking station. 
Docking stations are mainly used for charging devices, offering media output (such as playing audio) and enhancing connectivity by providing additional ports. 

Get organised 

One of the best ways to reduce stress in the new year is to know where everything is. Use these handy tools to ensure your desk is always neat and orderly. 

Desk organisers
Desktop organisers are key for keeping a variety of smaller items in order and within easy reach. Circular or square in shape, desk organisers are made from steel, plastic or eco-friendly, recycled materials and bamboo. They are offered in a range of styles and colours, and have separate compartments of varying sizes that are designed to hold rulers, pens, pencils and erasers, and organise smaller stationery items such as paper clips and rubber bands. More sophisticated desk organisers can even include tape dispensers and built-in clocks. 

Paper clip holders 
Paper clips have a bad habit of getting into every nook and cranny of the office. Paper clip holders are small boxes that are either magnetised or non-magnetic. Magnetised paper clip holders are more useful as paper clips are made of metal and stick together. Many offer non-slip rubberised or felt bottoms so they stay in one spot.   

These handy items help to keep documents grouped together and provide a flat, hard surface on which to write while on the move. Clipboards are made from a variety of material, including PVC, chipboard and wood. The clipboard contains a clip mechanism along the top which opens to receive paper and closes to hold it in place. Clipboards are ideal in warehouse-type environments or for people on the go, such as couriers. 

Letter trays
Before the advent of e-mail, letter trays were the original inbox and outbox. They are important items that help organise the documents on your desk into two simple categories: to be done and finished. They generally come as separate units which are stackable to make up multiple tiers for people who  have more than two categories in mind. Letter trays can be open-sided or be closed with sliding drawers. They are made from a range of materials, including plastic, wood, wire mesh and pressed metal.  

Business card holders
These items are useful for staff members who hand out business cards on a regular basis, such as those who work in reception. There are a number of different types of holders. At its most basic, a business card hold is a plastic box or stand that supports a number of cards at once. These are easily accessible for both staff and members of the public. More sophisticated holders are created in album form, with individual plastic pockets for each card. This is more suited to people who have collected cards for the purpose of lead generation or the creation of a contact list, and want to store them in a way that will protect them from dirt, light and moisture. 

Cable organisers 
Cables tend to clutter up a workspace, and many of the devices used in the office environment have at least one cable for charging. These days, one worker can have a PC, a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet. To prevent getting tangled in all these wires, make use of a cable organiser. They come in the form of wire clips, clamps or plastic sleeving which is run behind the desk to the plug point. They are used for bundling desktop cables together, protecting them and keeping them neat. Not only do cable organisers keep your desk tidy, but they also form part of occupational health and safety regulations.


Desks and tables
Desks are essential items of furniture in any workspace. Whether for offices, reception environments, canteens or boardrooms, a number of factors need to be considered when purchasing a desk. Durability is key. How long will the desk last? This will largely be determined by the price point of the desk and the material it is made out of. Cheaper desks are made from chipboard with a veneer, while expensive desks are made from chrome, glass or wood.
Another thing to consider is the load capacity of the desk. How much weight can be put on the desk before it will become unstable or collapse? Bear in mind that most office works will need to put files, books, paper, stationery, a telephone and a computer of some sort on their desks.
Choose a style of desk that suits your corporate identity and budget. Modern desks are nice, but may look dated in 10 years’ time. If there is budget to update the look every five years, modern is a good choice and local manufacturers can provide custom designs and complete corporate fittings. However, if you are buying your desk for the long term, ensure that the style is more classic. 
Desks are available in a number of finishes, including melamineveneer with a fitted edging, metal, aluminium, chrome, leather or glass.
Bear in mind the need for storage space. Office desks will require drawers, pull out keyboard trays and a hole in the desk for cables. 
Tables for canteens or break rooms will not require any of the storage or load capacities needed by office desks. 

Office chairs are available in a wide range of styles. They are generally on wheels for ease of movement, and offer a range of functionality such as adjustable seat height, backrest tilt and arm rest height. Ergonomic chairs offer scientifically tested un to improve posture which boosts productivity while decreasing aches and pains. 
Boardroom chairs are usually not on castors. They offer a more opulent, executive look, using plush finishes and more padding. Generally boardroom chairs are covered in leather or a heavy, patterned material. These chairs are comfortable for the duration of a meeting but are not ideal for sitting in long term as they are not ergonomically designed.
Chairs found in break rooms or canteens are usually made from melamine or plastic, and do not have a fabric covering. This type of chair will be exposed to a large number of spills from food and drinks and, depending on where they are placed, will also need to withstand dropped ash or cigarettes.

Desk lamps
The desk is a place where a lot of work is done in a business day, and as such it needs to be adequately lit for optimum productivity and comfort. 
Desk lamps are ideal for creating a concentrated pool of light to aid vision when working on paper or reading dense text.
When choosing a desk lamp for your workspace, chose one that renders true colours as if in natural daylight. Make sure the bulb in the desk lamp is a warm white light.
The lamp should be designed to allow you to focus light when and where you need it with precision.
Adjustable luminaire heads and a 40-degree beam angle will ensure that light reaches every corner of your work space.
This will enable you to direct it exactly where you want it with fewer shadows. 
It’s also important to choose a lamp that has an easily accessible on/off switch.
More sophisticated desk lamps contain an infrared sensor which turns the light off when it’s not in use. This avoids unnecessary energy use and extends the life of the lamp. 


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