Kim Armstrong, stationery product specialist, Office Depot UK & Ireland
While the digitalisation of some business processes is inevitable, pens, notebooks and stationery will always play an important role in the workplace. Many still prefer to carry out note-taking and similar tasks on paper over digital alternatives. Therefore, it is essential for workplaces to ensure that they continue to cater for the specific wants and needs of individual employees. With National Stationery Week taking place on 23rd-29th April, there is no better time to rediscover the benefits of stationery in the workspace and in turn, boost productivity.
It is certainly true that the provision of stationery can have a positive impact on the creativity and productivity of the workforce. In fact, research conducted by psychological researchers in the USA found that using pen and paper, not laptops or smartphones, to take notes assists memory and the ability to recall and understand ideas.
It is widely believed that the act of writing clears the mind and helps to remove the distractions of the digital world. When typing there can be a tendency for workers to edit as they go, rather than letting ideas flow. In contrast, with pen and paper, the onus is on getting ideas onto the page and the editing process comes later. Therefore, if workers are prone to becoming interrupted, writing tasks down and committing them to paper can enable full focus to be given to the task at hand.
Facilitating different working methods within the office can help to mitigate the risk of unease amongst workers and foster a sense of belonging. Those who find it beneficial to make notes with pen and paper should be encouraged to do so through the supply of good quality stationery. Similarly, for those in roles where it is necessary to keep hard copy documents and files, it is important to provide the products needed to store these in an organised and secure manner.
When choosing stationery items for the workplace, it is paramount that the items chosen are of a suitable quality for the task in hand. Dependent on the role of the worker and what their tasks involve, items such as pens, pencils, paper and other general office supplies such as printers, need to be available to encourage efficiency and productivity.
For example, if workers spend a lot of time on the phone or their role involves brainstorming new ideas, the type of notepads provided should be carefully considered to allow for ease of use. By adopting a consultative approach when assessing demand office equipment, companies can avoid unnecessary purchases and ensure that employees have all the materials they need for their job role.
Furthermore, the availability of good quality products has been shown to have a positive impact on the level of care and pride employees take in their work. After all, there is no denying the unequalled satisfaction of using a beautifully-made notebook, crossing off a to-do list or taking the time to write important information with a stylish, well-made pen.
In addition to providing suitable stationery, the implementation of a ‘clear desk’ policy has been shown to minimise distractions and maintain employee wellbeing. It goes without saying that working environments can have a significant impact on productivity and creativity, and as a result, companies are paying more attention to the way workspaces are kept. Not only do ‘clear desk’ policies protect against the ongoing risks of data security, they also reduce waste and make the workplace appear more organised and professional.
Whilst the implementation of these policies can sometimes be problematic, it can be encouraged by supplying all employees with lockable storage, as well as boxes, trays or under-desk draws for loose paper. In doing so, employees are encouraged to keep their workspaces tidy at all times, which prevents sensitive or important documents from being lost or forgotten. Furthermore, ‘clean desk’ policies also help to maintain office hygiene, making the working environment more pleasant for everyone.
The procurement of office supplies can be complicated, with the management of budgets and the sourcing of supplies causing real challenges to some companies. However, this can be avoided by purchasing all office supplies through a single solutions provider. Having a single procurement partner often results in reduced costs due to lower numbers of deliveries. By ordering through a single supplier, there is far more visibility across the whole process and removing hidden costs. Furthermore, as single sourcing requires fewer deliveries, manufacturers can reduce their carbon footprint – a key measure of a business’ environmental impact.
Workers spend the majority of their time behind desks, therefore efforts should be taken to make them as appealing as possible. It is time to take pride in our workplace, which means getting rid of those chewed pen caps and embracing the stationery drawer. After all, a happy workspace makes for a more productive environment.