Prep for the New Year: Bulk Buying Office Supplies

Learn how to equip your team for the new year by using your year-end budget to stock up on office supplies.

A surplus in your office budget at the end of the year is cause to celebrate. It means you, as an office administrator, have done a superb job of managing supplies and operations.

In the face of this resource management win, you may be left wondering how to best use an end-of-year budget surplus. The answer: bulk buying. Close to a third of office admins say they currently use leftover budget to bulk buy office supplies for the new year, according to a recent Staples survey.

We spoke with your office admin peers to learn how they make the most of this tactic.

Analyze Your Annual Use

The Staples survey reveals that paper, pens and sticky notes are the top items that office admins buy in bulk at the end of the year. Needs can differ from business to business, so review your usage over the past year.

For example, Carrie, an office administrator at an auto financing company, maintains a spreadsheet throughout the year of every office supply item she buys.

“The last two weeks of the year, I’ll look at the spreadsheet and see where the trends are,” Carrie explains. “I see where I’ve spent the most and when the peak times are to figure out where to allocate funds.”

Whether it’s a spreadsheet or a simple list, knowing what you’ve ordered throughout the year gives you a clear idea of how you can stock your office so your colleagues can start the new year productively.

Get Team Input

No matter how well you track supply trends, you can’t have eyes and ears on everything. Ask your co-workers for help in determining which items you need to buy in bulk for the upcoming year. Departments’ needs can evolve as they refine and revise their work, so double-check to ask about their plans — they may surprise you with unexpected requests.

The accounting department, for instance, may need more paper and ink as it works to process new tax documents associated with changes to the company or product mix. HR might require more folders and paper clips as it ramps up recruiting and onboarding. Check in with employees to find out what’s ahead and how this might impact their beginning-of-year needs.

Touch Up Your Tech

Sometimes, extra budget is a good opportunity for making necessary upgrades to tech equipment.

Renee Gailey, an accounting specialist for a digital marketing agency, says it’s important to check office equipment to find out if there’s a need. “Mouse pads, keyboards and mice should all be looked at to make sure no defective items are being used,” she says.

Computer monitors, printers and phones are all items that occasionally need to be replaced. To know whether you should allocate year-end funds to office technology and equipment, check in with your colleagues a few weeks before the end of the year. Find out what issues they’re having and speak with higher-ups to get the go-ahead for making tech tool improvements.

Embrace Inspirational Items

A budget surplus is also the time to stock up on items that make an office more appealing and help boost productivity — even if they may not be considered essential for day-to-day operations.

“I’ve bought cute desk calendars or planners in bulk for employees who want them,” says Myeshia McDaniel, an administrative assistant for a literacy program. “I’ve also bought several noise-canceling headphones, back rests for chairs and telephone headsets for co-workers. While not required for their jobs, these items have made employees more comfortable and, hopefully, more productive.”

Personalized coffee mugs, polos with the company logo and new snacks for the breakroom are all supplies that office admins spend their year-end budgets on. These items can spruce up the workplace and boost employee satisfaction.

When buying in bulk, it’s important to keep shelf life in mind. For example, don’t stock up on pumpkin-flavored coffee at the beginning of the year. Also, make sure you have adequate storage for bulk items. You’ll be well prepared to help your team go forward into the new year.