With dozens of people tromping in and out of the supply closet on a daily basis, sifting through boxes, pushing piles here and there, taking some and putting some back (not necessarily where they found it), the office supply closet can soon start to look like it’s been hit by a tornado. And this can cause a variety of problems. For one thing, the person responsible for stocking the supply closet will have to clean up the mess, most likely. And the disorder can make it extremely difficult to track inventory, meaning there could be times when the closet ends up overstocked on certain items while others are conspicuously absent. As any facilities coordinator knows, this means only one thing: complaints. So if you’re looking for ways to organize the office supply closet in your workplace and turn it into a well-oiled machine designed to service employees in need of pens, paper, staples, and more, here are some suggestions you might want to implement.
- Lock the closet. One of the best things you can do if you want to impose order and track inventory is keep the supply closet locked. If this isn’t an option (say, if supplies are stored in the copy room and people need access to the Xerox machine), you can always install locking cabinets to stop employees from swiping whatever they want and making a mess of the place. If employee theft is a problem and you’re going through way more office supplies than you should (because staffers are taking stuff home), this is an excellent solution to the problem. And it will also restore order to your supply shelves. Of course, you’ll have to show up to unlock supplies upon request, but you might also consider scheduling times when you’ll be present to dole out supplies each week.
- Centralize. Instead of having supply closets all over the building, you might want to set up a centralized supply room where all employees at the facility can come when they need supplies. If you make this your base of operations, you’ll always be available to dole out items as employees arrive with requests, saving you the trouble of running around all day to open up smaller closets whenever someone needs a pencil. And of course, having all of your stock in one place will make tracking inventory a lot easier.
- Storage solutions. One of the best ways to stay organized is to make sure that there’s a place for everything and that everything is in its place. This means having scalable solutions for cabinets, shelving, and bins to hold all of the office supplies used in your workplace. Modular furnishings and stackable bins are probably your best options. And labeling shelves and bins couldn’t hurt.
- Computerized tagging. You might be surprised by how quickly a barcode scanner can streamline your operation where supplies are concerned. With this handy tool and appropriate software at your disposal you can attach bar codes to everything, scanning products into the system and then scanning them again when they go out into the office for use. This way you’ll have a running tally of what’s in your closet at all times so you can track usage and order new product as needed, not to mention performing inventory checks to make sure items that you haven’t checked out aren’t mysteriously disappearing.
- Don’t double up. If you’re looking for the easiest way to keep things organized, try to streamline by having only one product that suits a particular purpose. For example, you probably don’t need ten different sizes of notepads, so cut it down to two, one large and one small. Why buy both blue and black pens when one color will do? And if you have magnetic boards and pins from CMS magnetics, there’s no reason to provide employees with the option for cork boards and pushpins. The point is to simplify wherever possible.