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The ultimate checklist to plan the setup of your new office

What are the main areas to take note when setting up a new office?

Setting up a new office is an effective test of your business planning capacity. It’s like a small project that requires from you to mobilize your budget management, design and visualization skills to incorporate all essentials into a smooth-running workspace.

The new office setup checklist won’t work perfectly if you decide to leave it to chance. Solving problems as they arise can be an exception, but not the rule of a small office set up. Business plans make things easier. But, what if you don’t have an inclusive business plan or just need to open the office immediately without waiting for the plan to be finalized and approved? Checklists save the day for many successful endeavors. New offices are no different.

Here is what you need to think through before you run that startup or small office:

Choose a safe location

Legal requirements are the first to consider when you are setting up a new office in a certain area. It’s not bad to check out the area, such as its crime rates and law enforcement activity. Since health and safety are usually a priority, include them at the top of the new office setup checklist. While picking up a great location, don’t forget to consider other aspects of your small business. Is this a startup that will work in a coworking space? Are your common partners located nearby? Are there any leased offices that could be appropriate without weighing on your startup budget? These factors will help you solidify the new office checklist. You can move the less critical stuff to the bottom of the list and avoid beginner's mistakes of space planning.

Manage security

In the midst of hectic activity, many new managers forget that they need to work in a secure place. Choosing the most effective access control system is a basic business need. If you are renting a space or just sharing a coworking office, you might not be in charge of the access control. You need to get approvals and permissions. In contrast, you can equip your own or your rented space with electronic access control and manage it from your own central network. Choose the right doors and locks and organize the alarms, detectors and video surveillance to serve the needs of your team. At the same time, think of inside security. Do you need to use separate offices or will dividers do? Most startups share an office. In such space, your new office startup checklist should include a simple open layout plan. For security, use locked cabinets. The good thing about modern security is that it got smart, so you won’t have to dig, drill, wire or install complex systems. You can rely on a mobile app.

Access control

When managing security, it is not sufficient to take into account the technology factor only. Nearly any camera or an alarm system can be deactivated, and a locking mechanism can be broken if used as a standalone safety measure. Think of the human factor that in many cases accounts for security breaches and information leaks.

Access control allows employers to find an all-round solution to their safety needs. It serves as an umbrella of multiple security devices, helps maintain effective control over premises, protects assets, and also presupposes user authentication and authorization. This means,  you as an employer can identify your workers’ rights and establish or deny access to certain offices or information based on employees’ role within an organization.

Legacy access control requires investment in servers, wires, and in-house personnel who can supervise work of the system. As opposed to the traditional access control systems cloud-based access control is more cost-effective as it does not entail huge capital expenses. It is more scalable, flexible and spares you the hassle of hardwired components. Moreover, with IP access control you can entrust your security to a service provider who will overlook all the processes all year round, so there’s no need to hire a security manager.


Think workstations, telecommunications, the Internet, and furnishings. These are the basics for a small or a large office. Consider whether you need to get all that stuck in the office space. The limited space should stock up the essentials. It might be wiser to outsource printing, copying or faxing services to an external provider. On the other hand, setting up the Internet connection is one of the first tasks on a new office setup checklist. Do you really need a big kitchen? Which team can share a desk? Who needs to work separately because of security reasons? If you are renting a space, your employees need to accommodate more to the space than vice versa. Visualizing how a day (or a week) at work would look like is a helpful exercise for a worry-free small office set up.

List of office equipment and supplies

Evaluate how much equipment you need based on the size of your team and your sphere of work. Needless to say that a publishing house will have different appliances than a software firm. However, the majority of companies would have to purchase the following supplies:

  • Furniture (desks/chairs/closets, etc.)
  • Office phones and a fax machine
  • Computers and mobile phones (consider implementing BOYD policy to cut down on costs associated with buying the equipment, however, don’t miss on security)
  • Software such as anti-viruses as well as various applications needed to run your business
  • Photocopier (a multi-purpose device is a good idea)
  • A server will make your business run more efficiently (you may go for a cloud option which is a cheaper and almost a hassle-free alternative to the in-house hardware)
  • Whiteboard/projector is a must for better work organization and more powerful presentations
  • Stationery (buy smartly and in bulks)
  • Shredder (don’t forget that confidential documents should be destroyed after they have been used)
  • A coffee machine will serve as a nice perk and boost your employee’s productivity

An example checklist for small offices 

The small office set up plan is a challenging task. With a bit more attention to detail, you can turn the small office into a functional and pleasant space.

‍Maximize the office space with shared desks and easy-to-reach file holders

Pay attention to the following areas:

  • Purchasing vs renting or leasing equipment and services to save costs and space.
  • Design a smart office layout and place teams as neighbors, with easy-to-reach files at hand.
  • Maximize the floor plan by examining the separate areas. Include a reception desk instead of a visitor room, meeting cubicles instead of meeting rooms and kitchen tables that can replace a conference room when free.
  • Remove robust furniture and unnecessary IT equipment. Really think this part through.
  • Maintain safety and security standards by choosing anatomical furniture, proper lighting and workstations, as well as adequate toilets and smart access control.
  • Don’t forget about interior design. If the office is plant or animal-friendly, think of how will this affect the daily work in such a small space.    

You can cut down a long list for a small office set up by paying attention to what you can do by yourself and what it’s best left to others. Small businesses and startups have a lot in common. Check out the startup checklist below for additional insight.

An example checklist that for startups 

A startup office needs to be able to respond to rapidly changing needs. Launching a new startup comes with plenty of risks due to space and budget constraints. We compiled this simple new office startup checklist to help you steer clear of the most common pitfalls:

  • Space ownership. Do you own or lease the workspace? Are you working from home? Can you make alterations? Must you stick to the strict provisions of your lease? Do you need to meet specific security requirements? Have you thought of signing up for a coworking space membership? The answers to this questions will help you decide about the next items on this list.
  • IT and other communication systems. If the answer to the above question included sharing a workspace or renting an office, you will have a couple of fewer items to think of, because many coworking spaces or buildings with offices for rent have already taken care of this through their facility management departments or monthly membership packages. This can include web access, telephone and fax lines, but also air-conditioning, cleaning and food catering services. If you sign such a contract, cross off the IT and the additional services of your office equipment list.
‍Using communication equipment at a coworking space will save you a lot of money
  • Furniture, supplies and stationery. Purchase only the necessary; rely on the rented stuff for basic functioning. You’ll need to think of who will deliver your daily necessities, which can include anything from batteries, paper, toner, cables to food and water. Do you need to buy whiteboards, projectors and copying machines? Can you find a per-hour conference room in the near vicinity that will cost less than using your own full time? Is your startup a busy place with a constant flow of new people? How will you identify, authenticate and grant access to clients, visitors and employees?

You can cut down a long list for a small office set up by paying attention to what you can do by yourself and what it’s best left to others.

What is a good sample checklist for large offices / enterprises?

In a large firm, there are many departments and many people, which calls for space to be organized smartly and efficiently.

When setting up a larger office, consider the following topics:

  • ‍Should there be a separate area for each department?
  • ‍Open space vs. private offices – what suits your business model more?

Office Checklist
‍Open plan offices are more economical and are easier to supervise compared to private offices. However, you should consider that security can be hampered in such a working environment.
  • Create meeting rooms for customers and partners.
  • Common areas where employees can interact, such as a fully-fit kitchen or a lounge with comfortable seats.
  • Access control and how it can be implemented depending on the set up of the offices. The more complex hierarchy within your organization, the more layered access rights to assets and information should be given to your employees.
  • Accessible parking within your company’s vicinity
  • Security needs. Find a reliable access control supplier and make sure you get a scalable and flexible access control system that can be adjusted as your company grows and roles within an organization quickly change.
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