In the first part of this post we looked at what you needed to furnish your office. Now we consider what equipment you will need in order to connect to the outside world.



The one item you are certain to need in your office is a telephone line. Even if you have a mobile for use outside the office you will find that a landline will be necessary not just for voice communication but in order to access the internet. OK, you can access the internet with a mobile phone but that is more expensive and slower than a landline. Also most people who call a business expect to call a landline as it gives them some comfort in knowing there is a genuine physical presence for the business.

If there are going to be other people working in the office, or if you want a dedicated fax line, then you will need to make sure that you have sufficient telephone lines and extensions for all uses or users.

Unless your business is located in an area where there is a dedicated cable system (such as Virgin provide) you will need to install a BT land line. However that doesn’t mean that you can only use BT for your calls as there are plenty of other suppliers of telephone services who will charge you less than BT for calls.

You will need to shop around for the best available supplier to save money on calls and bear in mind that you can also use a VOIP system – such as Skype – to make and receive telephone calls at low or no cost over a broadband internet system.

For example although you may need a BT telephone line to connect to the internet (again you don’t have to use a BT internet services) you can use Skype to make calls from a phone connected to your computer. In some cases you can use the broadband system without even having your computer switched on. You also get voicemail, sms text messaging and other services free or for a small charge.

You can also pay a small fee and get an incoming telephone number with a code local to you or use a non geographic 0845 or 0800 number. However in my experience if you do use 0845 or 0800 numbers you should also have a landline number as people do want the security of knowing you actually exist.

If you don’t want to use Skype or another VOIP provider you can get similar services from other telecommunications customers directly to your landline.

Apart from a telephone handset you will probably need a fax machine and an answering machine. You can get single piece of equipment which will do two or more of these or you can pay and get voicemail on your landline from your supplier.

With regard to fax machines you may not need a dedicated machine or phone line as some printers/scanners can be used as faxes over your existing line. More of this in my next post.


Remember that being contactable is essential for start-ups. Consider the range of services and devices you can use to ensure you can always be reached.

 A mobile phone allows you to be contacted at all times. Call charges can mount up, but there is a range of tariff structures, including pre-pay deals, to suit most businesses.

  • Call waiting – this alerts you during a call if another caller is trying to reach you. You can switch from call to call and back.
  • Call diversion lets you redirect incoming calls to an answering service, your mobile, or any number you like. There will be a standard charge plus the cost of the diverted calls.
  • An answering machine is simple and cheap (£20 to £150). Many phones now have an answer machine built in as standard. Remember, some callers may not like leaving messages.
  • An answering service will take calls and pass messages on. Some services will answer calls in your business name. Regularly test the service by leaving messages for yourself.

To get an idea of what is available and the costs you should have a look at the Viking catalogue (for your convenience there’s usually an advert for it on this site). Some things you can also get at auction or second-hand office equipment dealers (see the first post for details) but make sure you get a guarantee that they will work.


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