At some point as you establish or expand your business you are going to have some sort of office set up.

This may be a one-man office for your own use, possibly in a spare room of your own home, or it could be a much larger set up in a business centre or business premises with several employees.

Whatever form it takes the office equipment, the systems and the environment should all contribute to making you and your business as efficient as possible. Rather than grow as you go, it is better to plan your office environment from the word go.

This post explains how to furnish an office for a start-up business and will be followed by posts on choosing equipment, designing stationery, and working from a home office.

Furnishing the office

Start with a basic minimum of furniture and equipment. Depending on the type of business you run there may be some specific items you will need but in general the following should cover most types of business:

  • A standard-height desk. Rectangular may do but an L-shaped desk may be better for using a PC;
  • an adjustable chair (on castors);
  • a filing cabinet;
  • a cupboard or shelving unit for box files and binders.

Look through an office supplies catalogue such as Viking or Neat Ideas to work out what you may need and get an idea of prices. However be aware that auctioneers hold regular sales of furniture. Office furniture doesn’t hold its value well and you can often get almost new furniture for next to nothing. Look in Yellow Pages or search the internet under Auctioneers and Valuers. You should also be able to find second hand office furniture dealers or even ask a local retailer of office furniture if they sell second hand items that they have taken in part exchange. They often don’t advertise this as they’d rather sell you a new item at 10 or 20 times the price.

NOTE: If you rent space in a business centre, basic furniture is usually included in your licence fee.

Plan your office layout for efficient working

Having worked out what you need the next stage is to organise the office to avoid wasting time moving about. Make sure that you place frequently-used files in easy reach. If you have employees, place those who work together close to each other.


If you expect visitors to come to your office, think about their requirements. For example will you need a separate meeting room or do you want visitors to be impressed by comfortable surroundings? This will affect your choice of furniture. In most businesses these days separate meeting rooms are the preferred option, not just to look more impressive but to ensure confidentiality or your own or other clients documents.

In the next part of this post we will look at what office equipment your business is likely to need.

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