These are extraordinary times, as the pandemic’s return-to-normal is more about fits-and-starts than the smooth transition we might have desired. What’s certain, however, is that many of us will continue to work remotely for at least part of the time. In other words, the “temporary” home office may become permanent.
And if you’re among those working remotely, your employer is likely providing only the necessities for you to get your job done. Maybe you have a computer and monitor, but that’s it. This means that you need to keep your office appointed and stocked. But you want to do so without overspending.
The good news is that there are various ways you can save money on your home office. Here are just a few ideas.
Pool your resources
Get together with colleagues, your spouse, friends, or neighbors who are also working remotely, and buy supplies in bulk. You can save money on both the cost of materials and shipping.
Here’s a quick example: A leading brand of printer paper costs $6.14 per ream on Amazon when bought in a pack of three. The same paper cost $3.89 per ream on Amazon when purchased in a case of eight.1
Smarten up your printing
For many remote workers, printing is among the costliest routine activities. But you can manage these costs. Change your printer settings to low-ink or black-only modes unless you really require top quality and full color, perhaps for a customer-facing document. Be sure to proofread thoroughly on-screen to avoid having to re-print. Once they’re no longer needed, repurpose printed documents as scrap paper for notes. (But if a document needs to be shredded because it contains sensitive information, by all means, shred it.)
Finally, look into alternatives to buying new ink cartridges every time you run out. Many major printer manufacturers, along with Amazon and Best Buy, offer cartridge subscription services that may help you save money if you print a lot.
Give used furniture a new life
The kitchen table and chair may have served you well during the early days of the pandemic. But you probably owe it to yourself (and to your back) to invest in proper office furniture. Craigslist ads and used furniture stores are great places to find items at a fraction of the cost of new.
Don’t assume that high-end is out of reach, either. A new Herman Miller® Aeron® chair, size B (medium), with standard options, costs nearly $1,200 on the company’s website.2 But a quick internet search found the same chair, refurbished, for less than $500 through a used furniture dealer. This price includes free shipping and a 12-year warranty.3
I’m talking about wholesale clubs, of course. The big, national, members-only wholesale clubs offer office supplies, including everyday consumables such as paper and pens, along with furniture and electronics. Of course, they offer low prices on countless non-office supplies, from groceries to casual clothing. You may find that the cost savings, combined with member rebates, quickly offset the cost of your membership.
Request an energy audit
Now that you’re home all day working, your electricity bill has likely increased. Check with your power company to see what resources they offer to help you analyze and optimize your energy use. These may range from do-it-yourself home energy analyzers designed to help you find ways to save money, to in-person walk-through audits and other tools.
Check also if your provider offers alternate rate plans for off-peak use. If your home has one, learn how to use a smart meter to save money by optimizing your energy use.
Reevaluate your telecom and internet providers
If you pay your phone and internet bills without a second thought, set some time aside to find out what other options are available. You could save by switching your carrier or simply modifying your plan to better match your usage.
Has the new normal of remote work turned you into a “one-person office manager”? The good news is that there are many ways you can create a comfortable, functional, and well-stocked home office without spending too much.