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5 tips for giving the best office holiday gifts

Want to be the best office Santa?  Here are 5 things to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect holiday gift for the office.

Be a cheapskate.

Lavish gifts are inappropriate for the workplace, and embarrassing to receive. You are just trying to be nice and spread a little cheer, not make their whole year.

Make it personal, but not too personal.

Your gift should show that you think well of your recipient, cross the line into impropriety. I think the best office holiday gifts are items that can be used at work, such as a nice pen set or personal organizer.  Baked goods and a store gift cards are other great options.

Don’t forget your assistant.

It’s always a good idea to show your appreciation for support staff.

Be discrete.

If you aren’t buying gifts for the whole office, be discrete with your gift-giving. Lunch is a great time to exchange gifts.

No gag gifts. 

Why take the risk of giving offense? A small, sincere gift is always the way to go. Save the gags for your frat brothers.

Getting to Know; Part V in Series

Sridhar Balasubramanian, Co-Founder & Chief Technical Officer at

We’re introducing one of the bigwigs at today, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Sridhar Balasubramanian.  I know him as Sri, the nice guy who helps me with everything from navigating WordPress to picking out a new laptop (thanks Sri, the Lenovo is working out great!)  But apparently, being CTO involves a bit more than that! Today, Sri tells us how the business has changed over the last eight years, shares his tips for working from home, and reveals his favorite office supplies.

How has your job changed since you started OTS?
The internet has evolved a lot and has become more complex. It is a challenge to keep up with new trends and technologies and stay fresh and current with our customers.

What does your current job entail?
I handle all things tech: developing new features for our website and our backend systems, and keeping the website running smoothly.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
Having the freedom to get ideas implemented without red tape, and having flexible working hours.

What’s your favorite/handiest office supply?
Post-it Notes: I use them to set reminders and make lists!

Do you have any tips for other people working from home?
Unlike in an office, you can’t work till closing time or for the weekend. You have to be more project oriented and set goals in order to stay focused. You also have to reward yourself when you achieve your goal, whether it’s a gift for yourself or a vacation to somewhere fun.

Anything you wish to add?
Despite the ups and downs, this is the greatest job I’ve ever had. I enjoy working with the amazing employees, having the freedom to set my own schedule and gaining self-satisfaction from getting my work done.

Video: improve office ergonomics with diy exercise equipment.

The dangers of sitting all day at work are well known at this point: increased BMI and mortality, as well as stress and discomfort in the lower back, shoulders and neck. A good ergonomic desk mitigates those dangers, as can a standing desk. But the best thing you can do to improve the ergonomics in your office is take the sedentary out of your sedentary job and add some activity to your day. You can start by taking periodic breaks to stand up, walk around and stretch.  In this video, green-building pioneer Lloyd Kahn shows you how to take it to the next level and rig up an in office gym with little more than rope and a few exercise bands.

I love the ideas in this video, but not everyone has the space or the ability to turn their office into a gym. Luckily, there plenty of exercises you can do in your office that don’t require any equipment, and won’t rumple your clothes.

Lloyd Kahn’s Office Gym via Lifehacker

Vertical vs. Lateral File Cabinets: a quick guide to upgrading your file storage system.

We posted a file cabinet buying guide a couple years (and a name-change) ago. We’ve gotten a few requests during that time to update and streamline the post. Office Ink aims to please. So here are we are with the highlights: a quick guide to office file cabinets.

Lateral File Cabinets: best for small offices; frequently accessed files.

Horizontal lateral files are take up little interior space, so they are the best choice for small offices. Lateral file cabinets are available in a wide range of widths and heights. You can get lateral files big enough to divide a room, small enough to fit under your desk, or sized just right to to do double-duty as a new work surface.

 basyx Vertical File Cabinet

Vertical File Cabinets: best for small offices; less frequently accessed files.

Vertical cabinets take up less wall space than lateral files, but they are too deep and bulky for small work areas. However, vertical file cabinets provide a ton of file storage. Use them to archive files you don’t need to get at every day.

Metal Cabinets: best for busy offices.

Metal file cabinets can take a lot of abuse, so they are best for choice for frequently accessed files.

Wood Cabinets: best for home and private offices.

Wood cabinets are usually more attractive than metal options, and relatively more expensive. However, they are a beautiful option if you don’t need to store a million file folders. Use them in your home office, or in a private office.

Check out the previously posted buying guide for a more in-depth look at your file cabinet options.

Use your smartphone to network during your daily commute.

Take public transportation to work? While you’re avoiding eye contact with your fellow commuters, take the time to cross a few items off your to-do list, and do a little networking. Thanks to smartphones, your commute is the perfect time to read and answer email, update your LinkedIn profile, schedule meetings and more. Another great idea: use the time to catch up on industry articles and podcasts.

Check out Pendaflex’s Beyond Folders Blog for more great ideas on having a great commute.

When a pen & spiral notebook is more efficient computers & smartphones

When a pen and notebook beats a computer or smartphone.

I am not a techphobe. I work on a Lenovo laptop every day, and I adore my iPhone. Though I admit I use it more to provide a soundtrack to my sporadic workouts and to navigate the Chicago public transit system than anything else. But there are ton of business apps people use of every day to great effect. Still, as Thorin Kowalski at Lifehacker reminds us, there are some tasks best suited for plain old pen and paper.   Continue reading

Top 3 Ergonomic Desk Chair Features


There is a dizzying array of ergonomic desk chair features on the market, each with a more inscrutable name than the last. It can be hard to decipher the jargon of the office furniture industry to determine exactly which features you need, and which you don’t. has an in depth office chair buying guide designed to help you navigate the terrain, but here’s the quick and dirty version: the top three features you need in your ergonomic desk chair. Continue reading

Happy Veterans Day From!

Happy Veteran’s Day! I think it’s fitting that Veterans Day will fall so soon after a contentious presidential election. No matter who you voted for, we can all be thankful for the sacrifices our veterans have made in securing our democracy.

We like to celebrate these holidays with a little history (see: Columbus Day, Memorial Day, Election Day). So here are a few quick facts about the history of Veterans Day from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • 1919: Woodrow Wilson designates November 11 Armistice Day to commemorate the end of WWI and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • 1938: Armistice Day becomes an official U.S. holiday “dedicated to the cause of world peace.”
  • 1954: After WWII and the Korean War, Armistice Day renamed Veterans Day to recognize the sacrifices of military personnel.

I hope you have a wonderful Veterans Day!

Happy Election Day from!

Happy Election Day! The United States is the oldest democracy in the world. Let’s celebrate with some Election Day Trivia! If you’re anything like me, you’ll trot it out to impress other politics nerds at a watch party tonight.

  • Eight Presidents were born British subjects: Washington, both Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and W. Harrison.
  • Nine Presidents never attended college: Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, A. Johnson, Cleveland, and Truman.
  • Harvard has the most presidential alums: 7
  • Tallest President: Lincoln at 6’4″
  • Shortest President”: Madison at 5’4″
  • Most Fecund President: John Tyler with 15 kids.
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Now, don’t  forget to vote!