A Simple Guide to Reopening Your Office

Reopening an office can present business owners and managers with a long list of difficult issues to deal with under most circumstances, especially if the closure was long term. Getting an office safely up to speed after a virus quarantine, like with the coronavirus, is even more of a challenge. This simple guide to reopening your office offers clear steps, tips and a list of important supplies needed to open your workplace responsibly. Get your staff back on the job while keeping them safe in your newly opened workspace using the right advice and products.

Setting Up Your Office Space for Reopening

Different states will have different guidelines about how to manage and reopen an office after their COVID-19 lockdown measures are eased. Regardless of your state’s specific guidelines, there are some basic steps you can take to make your workplace safer for staff and any customers or contractors who visit your office on-site.

  • Space out workstations, desks and cubicles. Keep employees six feet (around two meters) apart. You can install plexiglass or plastic dividers between desks in open-office settings or settings where floor space is limited.
  • Change the orientation of desks and monitors to increase the distance between people (especially their mouths and noses). This will help keep the spread of airborne germs at bay.
  • Provide a staging station at the entrance of your office for workers and guests where they sanitize their hands. Also, post rules and recommendations for safely entering the office space outside the entrance.
  • It’s also a good idea to post additional information signs outside of your office entrance about what to expect in this post-COVID environment. The information should be obvious and clear to read, detailing the new rules everyone is expected to follow.

Provide Posit-COVID Rules and Workplace Protocol Training

In addition to posting signs about what employees should expect when reopening an office after (and during) the coronavirus epidemic, you should provide training about what staff should anticipate concerning changes to how your physical office space will now operate. Ideally, the bulk of this training and information should be provided online or by email for accessibility and to avoid the necessity of gathering in large groups. Here are some key social-distancing protocols to consider:

  • Instruct employees to wash their hands often. Teach them how to properly use hand sanitizers and hand sanitizer stations.
  • Limit the number of people who use breakrooms at one time. You may have to change breakroom etiquette and add extra supplies. For example, stagger scheduled breaks, increase the availability of cleaning materials and switch to disposable cups, plates and utensils to avoid accidentally sharing a coffee mug.
  • Instruct and remind workers about maintaining social distancing. Once they’re face-to-face, people often tend to forget about recommended safe distances and fall into old habits.
  • Put up signs to instruct and remind workers about how to cough safely.
  • Post notices throughout the office about sanitizing your hands after coughing.
  • After work, at least for now, skip after-work drinks or meals with colleagues. This will help maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of spreading a virus.

Add Extra Sanitation Measures Office-Wide

In keeping with the new COVID workplace environment, here are some extra sanitization measures you should consider providing in and around the office (in case your office is adjacent to or part of a warehouse or workshop):

  • Masks and gloves to use in tight spaces, or when moving from one location to another. Make sure to set up multiple locations/stations where employees can pick up their disposable protective gear.
  • Hand sanitizing dispensers, sanitizer stock and sanitizing stations throughout the office.
  • Signs and notices mounted around the office reminding everyone to wash their hands often, as well as instructions on how to cough and minimize the spread of disease.
  • Notices reminding people not to shake hands, essentially welcoming them to the new business norm.
  • Cleaning supplies readily available for wiping down and disinfecting keyboards, doorknobs and other shared surfaces in the modern workplace multiple times during the day.
  • Ensure office ventilation systems are functioning properly to keep the air as clean and germ-free as possible.
  • Never share cups, plates or utensils when in the breakroom. Use disposable products or bring your own from home.

Getting Workers Safely Back into the Office

It’s understandable that workers might be apprehensive, eager or a combination of both when returning to the office. In addition to the steps we’ve already outlined, employees can return in waves (only a few at a time) over several days or weeks to reduce the stress of requiring everyone to return on the same day. Staggered shifts can also be implemented, when possible, to reduce the number of people on-location at any given time.

Employers can offer COVID testing at the office (if available), eliminate or reduce in-person meetings and use video conferencing tools too. Wear masks or even protective goggles if and when people need to meet in closer proximity than currently recommended.

Business owners and managers have a lot to think about when reopening an office, from new safety training and sanitization measures to creating a comfortable environment where employees, if they feel sick, can head home immediately. The world has changed with COVID-19, but with a little patience and preparation, safely reopening an office is a fairly straightforward and manageable task.

Trends in the Calendar Business: How Workplace Shifts Are Changing the Way We Schedule

How to you keep track of your business meetings, conference calls, personal appointments, and family obligations?

Many of us grew up and entered the working world with day planners in hand and calendars on the wall. The monthly ritual of flipping back the calendar page on the first day of the month is oddly satisfying, and there’s something to be said for having a constant visual reminder of your daily events. However, modern technology has introduced us a wide variety of electronic calendars and smartphone apps that have taken scheduling to a much more complex level.

As we prepare to turn the page to a new month, we became curious about how much of an impact mobile calendars are having on the traditional calendar industry. What types of calendars appeal to the modern professional, and which calendar features are most valuable in our changing work environment?

To learn more about these recent trends, we connected with our partner and calendar expert, House of Doolittle. This sustainably minded company provides eco-friendly calendars, desk pads, and appointment books for the modern world. In doing so, HOD’s national sales manager, John Pattinson, has noticed some significant shifts in the industry that we think are worth sharing.

Shrinking Cubicle Offices  

Due to economic constraints and minimalistic approaches to modern office design, cubicle spaces appear to be shrinking. As a result, there is not as much wall space or desk space available for displaying personal calendars at work. As a response to this trend, Pattinson says that House of Doolittle has seen an increase in the demand for small wall calendars, desk pads, and free-floating styles, such as tent calendars. “We have noticed a trend to smaller compact desk pads and wall calendars printed with four-color designs and scenes,” he shared.

A Growing Mobile Workforce

An increasing number of companies are embracing the mobile workforce trend and allowing their employees to work remotely. Remote workers who perform most of their duties at a home office tend to use calendars in the same way they did in a traditional office environment. Meanwhile, digital nomads who make frequent use of co-working spaces or who travel as they work are more likely to use digital calendars on laptops and smartphones.

Calendars for Notetaking

In talking with customers, we have found that many people have a tendency to jot down quick notes on a desk pad as they chat on the phone or read emails. Having a desk calendar is a quick and easy way to always have a notepad at your fingertips. It’s also a nice place to doodle as you wait for an endless conference call to wrap up or sit on hold listening to that dreadful elevator music.

AT-A-GLANCE Desk Pad Calendar

Calendars as Personalized Décor

One really interesting trend in calendars is that many people are using them today as a form of decoration. With so many interesting calendar themes available, it’s easy to express your personality or share your interests with co-workers by proudly displaying a decorative calendar that appeals to you. As far as office décor is concerned, it doesn’t get much easier or affordable than hanging a calendar!

Calendars as Vacation Schedulers

But it’s important to note that office calendars aren’t all work and no play. In fact, full-year wall calendars, especially the laminated versions, have been extremely popular in office settings. Small offices in particular, such as physician offices and law offices, have really adopted this type of calendar as vacation schedulers.

Unlike a computer screen, these types of calendars allow you to see the full year all at once, simplifying the process of scheduling multiple employees. And with a laminated surface, making changes is as easy as wiping your words away with a damp cloth.

Busy mom

A Step Back from Technology

It may surprise some of you to learn that the popularity of smartphones and mobile apps have actually had a very small impact on the traditional calendar industry. As we can personally attest to, it’s often much faster to glance up at a calendar on the wall or on a desk rather than fiddling with a stubborn software program to search for dates.

Despite the most impressive efforts of app developers, it’s still easier to find dates and appointments in a monthly or weekly planner. Of course, the larger numbers and text are easier to read for the older generation, compared to the small screen of a smartphone. But the Millennial generation is embracing a rediscovered love for calendars too. There’s a strong movement to disconnect from technology when possible for the sake of our health and streamlined efficiency. And with a paper version, you don’t have to worry about your battery dying or accessing a digital calendar on the same phone you’re talking on!

“Fortunately for those of us the make calendars for a living, the old tried-and-true paper calendar business is still very strong,” said Pattinson. We wish our partner, House of Doolittle, many more years of continued success, to build upon the legacy it began in 1919 and has been adapting with the times ever since.

When Compared Apples-to-Apples, OnTimeSupplies Has the Sweetest Deals

Today we bring you a true story about a call that our CEO, Miles Young, recently had with one of our valued school customers. If you’ve ever struggled to redeem order reward points or wondered why product prices vary from one company to the next, perhaps you can relate!

I recently received a call from a school administrator who had a corporate account with Office Depot and regularly used its website to order school supplies. She was just moments away from clicking the “checkout” button on Office Depot’s website, but an issue with redeeming the school’s reward points stopped her. You see, one of the reasons that customers keep coming back to retailers like Office Depot is that it feels rewarding to accumulate points that can be redeemed for free gifts, or “chachkies.” However, those chachkies aren’t always something that you really want or need, and the process of actually getting them can take up more time and energy than they’re actually worth.

But I digress. Back to my phone call with the school administrator!

The reason that she called OnTimeSupplies in the first place was because she was looking for a product that she couldn’t find on Office Depot’s website and stumbled onto our site in her search. You can imagine her surprise when she discovered that many of the items on her shopping list were priced significantly lower on OnTimeSupplies when compared to the Office Depot prices. Naturally, she was interested in learning more about our pricing model and how we can offer such competitive rates.

To get started, I asked her to send me a copy of her shopping list so that I could provide her with an “apples-to-apples” quick quote before settling on her standard Office Depot purchase. While we were chatting, I explained to her that OnTimeSupplies has been transforming the way the office supply industry works over 12 years, and that our motto is “Your Time Matters.”

This means that you don’t have to waste your time keeping track of reward points or coupons just to get a good deal or collect a chachkie to collect dust in your office. We offer our very best pricing right off the bat to our customers because we value your time and understand what it means to work within a budget. I also explained to the administrator how OnTimeSupplies utilizes over 35 locations nationwide to keep shipping prices down, how our dedicated employees work remotely to reduce overhead costs, and how our innovative software helps us manage our business with maximum efficiency. All of these components of our unique business model help us afford to offer top-notch customer service with rock-bottom prices.

Not only that, but we deliver in 24-48 business hours, offer over 40,000 products, and have live U.S.-based customer support. We’re here when you need us, but we aren’t going to waste your time by calling to solicit additional business either. Our service speaks for itself, and our customers choose to work with us because of the awesome buying experience we provide.

After sharing a bit about how OnTimeSupplies works, the school administrator emailed me her shopping list, and I turned around an apples-to-apples quote in about 10 minutes. I couldn’t have been more happy to help this customer save at least $314.02 on a single order. I’ve uploaded a sample page of the comparison sheet here so you can see for yourself! Needless to say, the administrator was thrilled to save this much money, and the savings allowed her to buy a lot more for her school than a $29 blender she didn’t need.

I hope that this true story provides you with a real-world example of the value that OnTimeSupplies can provide to your school or business – every order, every day. If you’re curious to see how our pricing compares to your current retailer’s on the items you buy the most, send us your shopping list for a free apples-to-apples quote today!

Save on your discount school supply order with bulk pricing at OnTimeSupplies.com.

2016 Back to School Giveaway Winner

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Our back to school giveaway contest is now closed!

Congratulations to Kelly Wright! Here’s the winning entry:

My favorite student is hard to pick, but I would have to go with Jasmine Davis. Jasmine was a full time collage student, double major and still worked 40 hours a week + and always had a smile on her face. She never complained about her studies or work and was always willing to go the extra mile for anyone. She is a true inspiration and I am proud to say that I know her. She has deeply impacted my life!

We were touched and inspired about your comments on teachers who inspired you.  We have been very fortunate to receive extra donations and we would like to share those gifts to you! A few additional people have been chosen to receive these additional gifts and will be notified by e-mail. Have a great 2016 school year!

Didn’t win the giveaway? No worries, you’ll find the best deals on school supplies online at OnTimeSupplies.com. And keep watching the Office Ink Blog for more chances to win free products from On Time Supplies!

2016 Back to School Giveaway Prize Package.

This year’s prize package includes classroom essentials from your favorite school supply brands! You can browse (and shop!) the complete Back to School Giveaway Prize Package here, but here is a preview:

• $130 worth of Avery Labels.
• $300+ in organizers from Avery and Quality Park.
• $300 in Scotch Tape, Post-it Notes and more from 3M.
• $400 in Pens, Pencils, Correction Tape and more from Pentel, Tombow, and other top brands!
• $390 in classroom arts and craft supplies from Avery, Fiskars and X-ACTO.
• $250 in first aid and hygiene supplies from Curad, Dial, LYSOL and Kleenex.

The fine print.

The 2016 Back to School Giveaway ends August 19, 2016. We’ll announce the winner Wednesday, August 24th. The contest is open to residents of the continental U.S. over the age of 18. All prizes subject to availability and subject to substitution.

Win $300 of Scotch + Post-it products in the Back to School Giveaway!

Win $1,800 in FREE School Supplies from 3M and other top brands!

The $1,800 school supplies giveaway from On Time Supplies is well underway. Lots of you guys have joined our email list, and are liking, sharing and tweeting up a storm for a chance to win. And we’ve gotten some great stories about awesome teachers!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the prizes, specifically the ones from 3M. You guys, they’ve provided so many of our favorite Scotch and Post-it products — $300 worth, in fact! You can’t even buy some of this stuff, that’s how cool the 3M package is.

  • (15) rolls of Scotch Tape, from always handy Magic Tape to super-cute paisley duct tape. Plus a cute tape dispenser.
  • (3) pairs of premium scissors, including a really cute pair from the 3M Designer Series that you don’t have to loan out to anybody.
  • (8) packs Post-it Notes in various colors and sizes, as well as a sweet Pop Up Note Dispenser.
  • (8) packs of Post-Page Flags and Tabs.

You don’t have to be a teacher or a student to want to get your hands on this swag! You can buy most of the 3M prizes from On Time Supplies here, where you can also get a look at many of the other prizes.

How to win $1,800 in school supplies from 3M and other top brands:

  1. Join our email list for the latest school & office supply deals.
    AND/OR
    Subscribe to the Office Ink Blog.
  2. Follow us and share the giveaway on FacebookGoogle+Twitter AND/OR LinkedIn.
  3. Leave a comment on this post telling us about your favorite teacher or student!
    Make sure you mention where you shared the Giveaway so we can count your entry.

Reminder: contest entries go here. Use this post to talk about 3M, or school supplies, or anything really. Just make sure you post your contest entries on the contest post so we can get you entered in the drawing.

$5,800 Giveaway: win FREE School Supplies for Teachers and Kids!

Update: the 2016 Back to School Giveaway prize package is now worth $5,800 in free school supplies, thanks to incredibly generous donations from Universal and TOPS Products. Keep reading to see how you can win! Win $5,800 in FREE School Supplies!

OnTimeSupplies.com is the perfect place for teachers and students to shop for school supplies, thanks to the extensive selection, discount pricing and lightning fast delivery. Now, it’s the perfect place to stock up on supplies for FREE! Don’t miss your chance to win $5,800 in FREE school supplies from On Time Supplies! Enter the 2016 Back to School Giveaway today!
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