What to buy the office with excess supply money?
June 10, 2024 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Our office is budgeted about $10,000 a year from big evil corporate to spend on "supplies". Things like batteries, keyboards, mice, chairs, etc. This year, so far, we have spent about $3,000. And you know the drill, what you don't use, you lose! Last year we bought a grill, a mini fridge, etc. People generally have comfortable standing desks and chairs already. What open-office-supplies would be nice to have that would fit this spending amount for a team of ~30 people?
posted by bbqturtle to Work & Money (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Does everyone have a good headset? I love my SteelSeries Arctis Bluetooth, no longer made, but their current ones are also great
posted by advicepig at 8:59 AM on June 10 [10 favorites]

You could also give people a personal budget to spend, so some folks might want ergo keyboards, headsets, or track pads...
posted by advicepig at 9:00 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]

Some very nice monitors so that everyone can have a dual-monitor system, along with mounting arms so that the monitors don't take up valuable desk space.
posted by akk2014 at 9:01 AM on June 10 [13 favorites]

Does the breakroom have a dishwasher? Could one be easily installed?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:09 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]

Can you do anything to improve the space acoustically - e.g. soft floor/wall coverings, acoustic tiles for the ceiling?
posted by offog at 9:12 AM on June 10 [13 favorites]

Vending machine, fancy coffee pot and subscription to coffee-of-the-month, seltzer machine, massage chair?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:12 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Oh, my thing would be way cool office plants and pay for outside care?
posted by BlueHorse at 9:14 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]

Oh god, acoustic conditioning products, yes!
posted by aramaic at 9:15 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

Back before the budgets in big pharma got cut even a little, my lab used this budget to buy a pod coffee machine and a huge quantity of coffee pods. We were very popular!

Is there good quality stationary people would like? I write in fountain pen so I buy my own notebooks because the supplied ones are always rubbish, for example. I also absolutely love having a mousemat that is also a notepad, and an ikea device holder (intended for your phone or tablet) which I use to hold flash cards with summaries of my ongoing projects.
posted by In Your Shell Like at 9:22 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

There are chairs and there are Chairs. Many a person thought they were comfortable until they sat in an Aeron.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:25 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]

Free health care day/flu shot clinics, pre-paid wellness incentive card for gym or non-prescription items, quality shirt or jacket without the corporate logo, free car detail day, usb coffee warmer, fan, or flying Captain America? All of which comes under mental health, of course!
posted by BlueHorse at 9:29 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

HEPA air filtration. Covid is on the rise again, and it will protect against whatever else respiratory bug starts making the rounds.
posted by kate4914 at 9:29 AM on June 10 [36 favorites]

One of my organisation's US offices has a nitro cold brew coffee system and it's very, very popular with our people there.
posted by terretu at 10:02 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Good task lighting (desk lamps) with good bulbs (high CRI etc). If the office is a typical overhead lighting only kind of situation, having multiple sources of light (especially on overcast or winter days) is awesome.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:07 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

What's your snack situation like?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

T-shirts that say, "Had corporate supplies budget and all I got was this t-shirt."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:46 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]

I know you mentioned that people generally have comfortable standing desks already, but I'll contibute that a motorized desk that I could easily switch at will between the standing and sitting positions was a wonderful feature of my previous office.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:46 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Office e-bikes for lunch errands?
posted by chuke at 11:25 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]

oh this is fun! it would be lovely to give individual supply budgets if you can. we each got like $200 for supplies at our place a couple years ago and we all benefited a lot from our individual picks, and some things like hyper-fancy keyboards have been passed down as people leave. here are some ideas based on things we did:

- if you currently have one-size-fits-all overhead lights: lighting improvements lighting improvements lighting improvements !! (but get consensus from everyone). I spent both a modest personal supply budget and a bunch of my own money on warm under cabinet lighting that I keep upside down pointing at the ceiling on top of wall cabinets we have, and we keep the harsh new overhead bulbs off. but we do a lot of need-relative-darkness computer work so it’s not too too weird.

- anti-fatigue mats for use with standing desks

- nice power blocks with usb charging ports etc

- nice headphones, microphones, webcam upgrades, swingy telescopy webcam arms for creative desk configurations

- wrist rests for keyboard and mouse

- coffee mug warmer plate thingie

- 2nd/3rd/4th monitors, monitor mounting stands to mount them in custom configurations

- pen choice is very personal, maybe poll for favorite pen types and get a bunch of each of the top 5-10. I still wish I had gotten more papermate flairs with my personal supply budget

- whiteboard(s) and markers and erasers

getting into less standard supplies territory:

- coffee related things such as french presses/aeropresses. my first thought with that budget was espresso machine but i realize that would probably get abused at least it would at my place

- large supply of consumables such as seltzer/soda/canned or bottled coffee, or k-cups

- you said a mini fridge, but what about personal under-desk mini fridges

- carpet cleaning service if you have gross carpet

- cubicle walls if you’re open office and don’t have them, upgraded or professionally cleaned cubicle walls if you don’t

- fancy water filter system

- do you guys do any in-office potlucks or parties? shared crockpot or utensils etc

- are you allowed to do straight up computer/tablet/hard drive/software purchases? lots of potential there!
posted by crime online at 11:35 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

As other's have said, definitely lighting. If you are still suffering under fluorescents, upgrading is a very good idea.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:51 AM on June 10

Screens which make the office less open.
posted by metasarah at 12:13 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]

Carpet, nice office-aporopriate pattern, natural materials - low voc., accoustic dampening. Our regional library did this, a nice mix of random pattern with huge colour circles and squares to unify and define sub-spaces. It really pushes the space ime, quieter, good to kneel or sit on...
posted by unearthed at 12:16 PM on June 10

Nespresso coffee machine made my office life worth living.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:22 PM on June 10

Carbon dioxide detectors to measure how effective your office ventilation system is.
posted by oxisos at 2:19 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]

If people are already using their standing desks a lot, would they enjoy anti-fatigue mats and/or walking pads?
posted by telegraph at 3:08 PM on June 10

Dishwasher!! Sooo gross when coworkers don't wash dishes properly (shudder), causes more illness if shared dishes aren't well cleaned, and doing the dishes often become gendered labour too.

When I work in offices, I always make sure my workspace has plants, personal incandescent task lighting and mood lighting, noise-controlling ear thingies (I loove working in silence so I do earplugs with construction site earmuffs on top) and a small heating pad that I put behind my back or under my feet when it's (always) chilly. So I'd say, give each person a budget of maybe $200 to upgrade their cubicle!

Improve the acoustics with more textiles (rugs, curtains, panels)
Several small quiet air filters
Areas with incandescent lighting instead of LED or fluorescent
Monitor air quality with a CO2 detector
Get some big beautiful air-cleaning plants
Weekly yoga instructor?
A couple monthly transit passes that anyone can use if they have a lunchtime errand?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:17 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

High end projector, not the powerpoint kind, the 8K movie kind. A large projection screen if no convenient wall presents itself. 5.1 surround sound system. Comfy chairs/couches.
Boom, movie and/or gaming Fridays.
posted by signal at 3:32 PM on June 10

sheet fed scanner
posted by H21 at 3:49 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Noise-canceling headphones for anyone who wants them.
posted by heatherlogan at 3:57 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Red Swingline staplers, even if no one needs to staple together paper anymore. Everyone in my office would (a) get the joke and (b) love to have one on their desk.
posted by lhauser at 7:19 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

Does everyone have a chair that is a good fit for them specifically or did you buy a bunch of chairs that were all the same that most people seem content with? This would be a great opportunity to check to see if there is anyone who is, say, shorter than average and would be more comfortable with a different chair or a footrest or some other change to their setup. You could make sure you have some footrests on hand so if you hire a new short person they don't have to go rummage in the basement and find an old drawer to put under their desk like I once did.
posted by Redstart at 8:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

cubicles that acoustically isolate the desks

couch and napping gear

but seriously, mega HEPA filters made for COVID (along these principles) or even those that are made for Woodshops, they will last a 6months - year if you are not creating sawdust, or have an office open to the street and already have HVAC

These are made for Covid, and are fancy.

Actually after suggesting this I am requesting their purchase for our office.
posted by eustatic at 8:28 AM on June 11

GameDads for everyone!
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:14 PM on June 11

Ooh - a couple of heated blankets or heated cushions on the sofa in the lounge area. Women are always freezing in offices, I bet they'll flock to the heated stuff and curl up like cats, thrilled to be warm at last.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:45 PM on June 11

If you work with paper and have to scan it more than once a month, a ScanSnap sheet-fed scanner.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:27 PM on June 11

Larger monitors or more monitors
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:28 PM on June 11

Proper hand tools and a toolbox. Power screwdriver.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:29 PM on June 11

You can never have enough travel-chargers with multiple USB-C ports
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:18 PM on June 11

posted by Wild_Eep at 7:20 PM on June 11

Tools for a lending library. Tile saw, nail guns, compressor, drywall lift, ladders, chain saw. Although, possible liability issues.
posted by H21 at 7:51 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

If you make paper manuals, a comb binder or similar.
posted by H21 at 7:53 PM on June 11

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - Unfortunately, we already have everything listed here (with the exception of that coffee nitro cold brew system, office ebikes (nothing within biking distance), and the plant service (Since it's an ongoing expense it wouldn't help with the end of year situation, and anything with facilities is technically a different budget).

We took our excess budget and bought extra snacks. So many, high quality snacks. The premium stuff. Food and drinks. We got so many snacks that our storage room is full. Again, it's the fancy stuff. We also requested everyone to resubmit for fancy keyboards/mice/noise cancelling headphones/monitors (nobody did, they all have what they want).

So, thanks! I guess they have this problem every year so that's why the office is so decked out!
posted by bbqturtle at 10:39 AM on June 12

posted by at at 1:28 PM on June 12

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