How office assistants can effectively manage supplies

Posted on August 4, 2018.

One of the most surprisingly costly expenses that a business will suffer is paying for general office supplies. Some industries have managed to avoid this by moving all of their information online. However, this is not a privilege for many industries. They may instead send and receive physical documents on a regular basis. This will require the business to maintain a variety of office supplies including paper, staples, envelopes, surface wiping rolls and much more.

The waste of these supplies happens in almost every workplace where they can be found. It might be paper that is used for non-work related purposes, the loss of pens or discarding batteries when they are still functional. Business owners that are concerned about cutting costs in the new financial year may, therefore, wish to change the way they manage supplies. Below are just a few ideas of what your office assistants could do to help reduce waste.

Firstly, it is important to ensure only one or two people are in charge of managing supplies. If a large group of people have this responsibility it could cause confusion. Someone might re-order a stock of items that another member of the team has already re-ordered. The fewer people responsible, the less chance there is of cross-communications and mixed messages. Those in charge should, furthermore, maintain an inventory log. It should document when items were stocked up, how many were ordered, when the orders were placed, etc. to have a better perspective of how money is being spent on supplies. This can be everything from toilet rolls, bin bag liners, cleaning products to printer ink.

When items are delivered, office assistants should be careful about how they are accessed by other members of the team. If, for instance, there is glossy paper for communications with clients and cheap paper for in-office matters, ensure the more expensive items are not as easy to access. This way, employees will not use the expensive supplies when it is unnecessary. If you are concerned that expensive supplies are being abused – which you can keep track of with the aforementioned inventory log – you could set in place a procedure so staff only access these supplies with permission. This is something you can also implement if there are concerns about the misuse or theft of supplies.

However, above all, the most unnecessary waste of office supplies comes from the recycling of those that do not require throwing away. Staples, elastic bands, pins – they might all be discarded for no reason. Consider having a designated place for putting these items when employees are finished with them rather than a bin. Assistants can, if necessary, go through them and return them to reusable supplies where they are stored. Similarly, it is worth going through your supply cupboard – or wherever you choose to keep your supplies – on a regular basis to find items that may have been misplaced, dislodged or lost.

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