If you get the wrong salesman in front of you, you might walk away from that conversation convinced you need shiny, expensive office equipment just to keep your doors open. That’s not true (though you might want to consider hiring that salesman). What is true is that some specific pieces of gear can improve productivity, speed up communication, lower costs and reduce stress in ways that can improve both your bottom line and quality of life. Here are a few of our favorites for 2015.
1. Wireless Router
Okay, you probably already have a wireless router. But do you have a good wireless router (as opposed to the cheap one you received when you signed up with your current internet provider)? For most offices, that long lag you see three or four times per day is caused by your router…not your connection.
Price Range: $250 to $300
Top Models: D-Link AC3200 Ultra, Trendnet AC1750
Needed By: Any office with more than three workers.
Pro Tip: Have someone competent reset the factory specs on the router at least once per month. Routers get a surprising amount of malware that’s hard to detect. As a bonus, it also forces you to change your password regularly.
2. Upgraded Monitors
Big monitors aren’t just fancy toys that keep your employees happy. A report from Pepperdine University states that more screen real estate equates to more productivity since workers don’t have to keep switching between windows. It matters less whether you accomplish that real estate via larger monitors or more monitors, but it definitely makes a difference.
Price Range: $1,000 to $1,500 for 24 to 27 inches
Top Models: HP Dreamcolor, NEC MultiSync EA244UHD
Needed By: Companies with a lot of writing, graphic design or spreadsheet work as a core part of their productivity.
Pro Tip: Avoid losing that extra productivity by making sure social media and emails aren’t among those easily switched between windows.
3. Color Printer
If you don’t already have an office-grade color printer, make this the year you get one. It’s not as if you don’t need color printing. You just hire it out to the service desk at Staples, or the printing shop a couple doors down. You will save a few cents per page, per print.
Price Range: $600 – $1,000
Top Models: Brother MFC-9560 CDW, HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 Series
Needed By: Companies that still use a lot of print marketing materials or collateral like handbooks and award certificates, or any print media that needs frequent updating.
Pro Tip: You will lose money if you let the convenience of an in-house printer make you print in color all the time. Use black and white for everything but color proofs and final drafts to avoid this risk.
4. 3D Printer
3D printing was the emerging technology of 2014, when we saw printed clothes, shoes, jawbones and complex electronics. A good 3D printer in your office means quicker prototyping, less expensive modelling and even a simplified supply chain for some components.
Price Range: $1,400 – $2,500
Top Models: LulzBot Mini 3D Printer, Ultimaker 2
Needed By: Businesses that need rapid 3D prototyping or have a similar need for on-demand production of small to medium runs.
Pro Tip: Use the printer to create memorable 3D giveaway pieces instead of pens and t-shirts.
5. Shared Hard Drive (a.k.a. “Network Attached Storage”)
Portable computing is not the way of the future. It’s the way of the present. A dedicated hard drive your whole team can access lets everybody use their portable device of preference without ending up with umpteen versions of the same document spread over a half-dozen computers. It also has security advantages, since your sensitive files stay in one place.
Price Range: Approximately $200 for 2 TB of storage (with highly secure versions and ultra-large capacity running more expensive)
Top Models: Synology Diskstation, WD MyCloud
Needed By: Companies with multiple workers who use computers as their core job tool
Pro Tip: Spring for the money to allow remote log-ins to the shared drive if you have a lot of telecommuters. If they have to take files home with them, it defeats much of the purpose.
6. Postage Meter
This is one of those things that not everybody needs, but those who need it really need it. If you’re leaving the office to send packages or letters more than twice a week, you definitely want to invest in a simple postage meter to save on drive time, payroll and fuel expenses.
Price Range: Depends on volume, but cheaper than the old-fashioned way
Top Companies: Pitney Bowes, FP Mailing Solutions, Neopost, USPS
Needed By: Anybody with a business model that includes lots of snail mail communication or shipping
Pro Tip: Buy yours at an office supply store or online. Most businesses get a call or three a week from somebody trying to sell a postage meter…but those are at an abusive markup.
Many small businesses do without the equipment that could save time or reduce stress because they don’t have the operating capital to make it happen. That lost time and increased stress means lost money and opportunity. A small business loan from Kabbage can give you the capital you need for your business to take that next technological step. Check today to find out how you can gain access to the capital you need to take your business to the next level.