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How do I build the perfect home office?

With over half of the UK workforce reported to be working remotely by 2020 according to Small Buisiness, as well as reports highlighting that currently over 1.5 million people are now working from home, it’s become more important than ever to create that perfect `home office`.

Working from home offers that great work life balance, with the benefits for both employers and employees being detailed by numerous organisations and HR professionals around the UK.  

Building the perfect home office and getting the setup right is crucial in order for it to actually work.  Work for you and your productivity.

It can be all of the little things when working from home that really have an impact on how motivated you are and in return how productive you then become.

Finding your inspiration

First of all, there is a little bit more to setting up the perfect home office than simply putting a desk in a room!  Yes, this is a big part of it but it’s also important that once you’ve identified where your home office will be to make your space fun, interesting and separate from the rest of the house!

Making things noticeably different, immediately distinguishes your work space from the rest of the house.  Helping you to make the switch between work and home, as well as providing others with a clear understanding that this zone is your work space/office.  

No one wants to sit and stare at four walls, but we also don’t want to be walking around our home looking for inspiration (procrastinating) as this is where work levels can dip.  So consider using bright colours on walls which can help stimulate imagination as well as using calming and reflective colours such as greens and blues, depending on you and your personality type.  If you are interested in finding out more about the psychology of colours you can find out more HERE.

Making the best use of space

Think about where your phone lines need to be, what about the folders you need on a regular basis and those books that you use for reference?  Are they placed within your work space in the right position? Can you reach them easily and have you got everything together, so you don’t necessarily have to leave your home office?  Wandering through the house to find the notepad you need with your meeting notes in, offers a number of opportunities to be distracted – the pile of washing that you could quickly put in or the toys that you can quickly put away in their box!

Once you then start thinking about what you need for your home office and where your things need to be you can then start thinking about making sure you have the right office furniture.

Office furniture is one of those things that is different for everyone.  What is suitable and comfortable for one person, can be another’s worst nightmare!  But think about what works for you. For example, do you need a shelving unit and if so how big? What about storage systems and lockable filing cabinets etc.  What about chairs, finding the right chair to meet your needs is an important part of the setting up your office process!

Also growing in popularity are standing desks!  Proven to help increase productivity as well as being better for circulation and posture, is this something which you could benefit from in your home office?

Then comes the detail, the equipment!  

What equipment do you need in your home office in order to make sure everything runs like clockwork?  That you have everything you need and more. So much so that going back into Head Office for supplies is not needed because you have the equipment that suits you!  Things like screens and monitors (and of course how many), wireless mouse and keyboard combinations, or maybe you prefer to work from a laptop – especially at a standing desk?

Phones also come into this, if you need a landline phone as well as a mobile.  Is this flexible, does it have a separate connection to your house phone (do you also have the technology installed to make sure you have this), does it offer you the conference call facilities that you might need or the reporting functions that you might use?

Then, when you have your computer and your phone lines all connected think about printers and what systems you might want to use.  Think about wireless printers so no matter where you are or whichever device your working from you can open things up and send them to print.  Making sure that they’re in an area in your home office that is safe, of course has power, a good WIFI connection and above all it is a printer that meets your needs.  One that isn’t going to cost the earth and certainly when you have it set up and installed isn’t going to be costly to run.

At Compatink, we can help keep the running costs of these machines low by providing high quality, low priced compatible ink and toner cartridges.  Not only do you get more for your money with Compatink we also have a quick and easy ordering system online, taking the chore out of ordering and searching for the right ink!

Health and safety tips

There are some great websites and companies online that can help when it comes to ergonomics and how best to set up your home office to make sure you’re also still compliant with health and safety regulations.

Sites such as Ergotron who offer a workplace planner guide and of course the Health and Safety Executive who have a number of articles and documents online to help point you in the right direction.

Building the perfect home office can be hard.  At first it can be difficult getting the balance right between home and work and setting boundaries.  But boundaries are needed and setting up things such as your out of office, or displaying your office working hours all help.  

Making sure that you have created the right environment for you is crucial, as this is what will inspire and motivate you during your working day.  Plus working from home can often be quite lonely, so making sure you have the right equipment helps to keep you connected to the outside world,  talking to the dog really doesn’t count!

Setting up a home office might seem like a chore to start with but when it’s complete you do take away all of the advantages, benefits and flexibility that working from home has to offer and these are the reasons why we choose to do it!

If you have any tips for creating the perfect home office we’d love to hear from you – please share your thoughts below.  And if you’d like to find out more about Compatink and the solutions we can offer visit us online today.

What a great admin team looks like.

Let’s start by saying that building any team, let alone a great admin team, isn’t an easy task!  Like most things it takes time, trust and if we’re honest a lot of patience!

It’s about building such a strong team that everything functions without the need for rigorous hands-on management.  Every team member feels valued (a big factor within admin teams) and because of this their productivity levels not only increase but they will continue to go above and beyond for you and the business.

If we start from the very beginning; building a great admin team starts with recruitment!  Recruiting the right people for the right roles.  Of course, it’s about making sure that skills and ability match with the requirements of the role. However, just as crucial now is making sure that people’s personality’s fit.  Think about what personalities you already have in the team. What would work well and be a good fit and what would be a nightmare and cause disruption? LinkedIn have recently reported on some valuable research which highlighted that recruiters now look for what “soft skills” candidates can offer. These are things such as team work and flexibility. As quite often and especially within admin teams, the skills for the role can often be learnt on the job. 

It’s also important to get your team involved in the recruitment process and gain their feedback on potential candidates.  What is their initial reaction? do they see a fit within the team – ultimately could they all work together?! 

Once you have your recruitment sorted and the perfect blend of people to carry out the assortment of jobs and tasks that come your way, its vital that you schedule in regular team meetings!

This is important for any team of course, but for the admin team it’s crucial.  Passing on the most need to know information, the ins and outs of everything (including the gossip and hearsay!).  They get chance to share top tips and time saving techniques. Also, the team can discuss the things that aren’t working so well. Communication is key in any company sizeable enough to ave multiple departments. Changes to the role can be passed on and discussed. No-one knows how a change can be bad or good more than the people doing the job.

Everyone hates a meeting that could’ve been an email but the value of regular meetings can be ignored. Striking the right balance is important. Even if its just 1 hour a week to get together and chit chat under the pretence of  ‘serious meeting. The bond generated in a team by this can help build those relationships which ensure a smooth and efficient working environment. 

Help to make life a little easier.  

Not making everything as manual is key.  Things like franking can now be made so much easier with new equipment, scheduling of appointments and tasks can be streamlined using downloaded data software.  Scheduling of regular deliveries from your storage warehouse, using an easy tracking system too when stocks begin to run low. Using companies who you can trust, like Compatink who can help with all of your printer needs – making sure you can not only find the ink and toner you need quickly but you can also register your products and receive automatic updates when ink levels dip too low and you need to re-stock before someone has a breakdown that the ink/toner has run out before they’ve finished printing!

Encourage teamwork and show your team they can trust you.  

This is a big point for us.  We’re keen advocates to show that when the going gets tough, we roll our sleeves up and get on with the job at hand too! A good manager cannot be afraid to get stuck in.  It helps to bring a certain level of respect, camaraderie as well as ultimately a show of teamwork! It also has a real positive affect and influence on the team, so much so that they will go the extra mile when called upon and they won’t think twice when it comes to helping you out when you need it the most. Nothing makes workers lose moral faster than a lazy manager who thinks they’re somehow above doing the actual job in an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. More on great managers Here and here. 

Get help when you need it.  

Don’t put all of the pressure on your admin team and accept that there will be times when you need additional support.  Whether this be as the business grows and the demands on your team grow, or maybe situations have changed slightly and that within your team you now need a more specialised role, for example.  Look for freelancers or contractors who can help to alleviate some of the pressure over your busiest periods and show your team you’re listening and actively finding solutions. Sites such as Office Angels are great at providing short term office solutions, as well as online sites such as PeoplePerHour for freelancers and contractors.

Build an alliance of trusted suppliers.  

We’ve touched on this briefly before but building a strong relationship with suppliers helps to soon let them become an extension almost of your team.  They know what you want and when you want it and when you make that stressed order they understand and will go out of their way to help support you as best they can.  Again, think about companies such as Compatink who actively look to save you time and money!

Show your appreciation!

 Saying thank you for a job well done can go a long way.  It links back to the raising morale and making team members feel valued.  Also look to personalise the thank you depending on the person. Acknowledge that not everyone likes a big shout out in the team meeting and some prefer just a simple note.  It’s about understanding your team and regularly reinforcing positive performance.

Tied to this is also showing that it’s OK to make mistakes occasionally, as long as lessons are learnt, and the failure wasn’t deliberate or done with intent.  When team members are aware of this, they’re more likely to come to you with more creative solutions to problems, again morale is boosted as everyone feels they can have a valid input and say. 

There’s no magic wand unfortunately in creating a great team.  However, providing your team with the knowledge, skills and training they need to achieve the high standards that you and the rest of the business will place on them is a good start.

Including everyone in feedback and updates and also looking to streamline certain activities has a big impact on staff motivation.  Working with companies and software systems that will ultimately make everyone’s life easier is most definitely key.

Oh, and of course don’t forget to stock up on those thank you notes too!

A day in the life of a kick-ass Office Manager

A day in the life of an Office Manager

There are a number of superstars within every organisation, but the role of the Office Manager in particular throws up something new every day!

Not everyone knows and understands the ins and outs of what an Office Manager actually does, or indeed how they fill their time!

So below we’ve provided a brief insight into the day in the life of Office Manager, Joanne (and by the end we’ve got to admit, even we’re exhausted!).

A day in the life…

7.15am – I start the commute to work and it’s actually not too bad as I listen to the news reports and traffic updates.  It’s also a great opportunity for me to go through my mental “to do list” and the actions I need to get through first when I walk through the doors!

8.00am – Arrive at work and I’m not the first one here today as one of my team came in early to open up for the IT team who wanted to launch a system update across the IT network.  As I walk in I say morning to the team on reception who pass on any messages or updates for me – the biggest message being that the marketing team want to catch me this morning about new signage for the front of the building and reception areas.

8.30am – I quickly grab a cuppa before I start my walk around.

8.35am – that was a quick cuppa!  On the walk around, I check on teams’ printers and their stock levels, their stock resources, the break out areas and what tea, coffee, milk etc we have available and what needs to be restocked.

9.15am – myself and the admin team have our morning meeting, where I go through any tasks which need completing from my walk around as well as any updates from team members which I need to be aware of.  I’m aware that I’m a team member down so rotas need to be updated for the day to make sure that all areas are still covered!

9.45am – update the team tasks and rejig a few timings around and re-send this to the team marked as urgent!

10.00am – head up to the marketing team to talk all things signage and from a health and safety point of view what is actually feasible within the areas they would like.

10.45am – call some professional signage fitters, to come out and provide quotations as well as advice to support what the team requires.

11.15am – Call from reception to say the CEO has a visitor who hasn’t been logged into the visitors log so we were caught a little unaware.  I head down to reception to help with the necessary paperwork and call the CEO on the way down to inform him his visitor is here, and would he like me to personally direct him to his office.

11.25am – leave CEO’s office and call Amanda who is manning the admin desk to arrange for some refreshments to be taken up to the CEO’s office asap.

11.30am – Check emails.  There is a couple from new suppliers wanting to set up meetings, one from HR to organise a catch up to go through the recruitment open day we’re holding in the office and to make sure everything from the office and admin side is covered – make a note to complete all of my actions on this project before this meeting takes place!

11.45am – Open up the latest weekly reports which are to be sent to the senior management team by the end of the week, reporting on staffing, facilities issues, any office related problems that have arose this week, timesheets and any security issues.

12.30pm – close the reports down for now and head for lunch with the head of IT to find out how the system update went this morning.

1.15pm – come back from lunch and send a quick email to the head of IT that after your chat at lunch you and your team will look at how they can support with the potential of weekend working and late nights, to help provide secure access to the building.

1.20pm – Call from the marketing team again to say that they’re now all out of ink and there doesn’t seem to be any in the storeroom – they’ve been printing some big reports for an impromptu event in a couple of days and need this asap.  Assure them that it’s fine, that they can use HR’s printer for now, which has the same capabilities, quickly log onto Compatink and order the ink we need using their quick system and fantastic delivery service.  Then quickly speak with the Head of HR to explain the situation and to ask if the HR team would mind holding off on their printing for the rest of the afternoon – or if there is anything urgent than we can print it out for them within the admin team (I’ve also sweetened it with the promise of a box of chocolates if they agree – so of course they do!)

1.45pm – Head to the postage room as I’m on mail duty today as we’re a team member down!  Franking and knowing the correct postage labels isn’t my forte so it might take me a little while longer then my team to get through all of this!

2.15pm – postage just about done and just the last few pieces to work through, so I head back to my desk to catch up on emails.  One from the marketing team thanking us for sorting out the printer ink so quickly and also asking if we can arrange a courier for tomorrow, so they can ship their event materials down.  I contact our courier service and book this delivery in and raise the purchase order which I forward to the marketing team as confirmation it has been done.

2.45pm – I get a call from reception to let me know they have a hedgehog problem at the front of the building…. Yes, a hedgehog problem!  I head downstairs and at the front door I’m greeted with a babble of staff and 3 hedgehogs.  Luckily, I’ve brought a box from the store room down with me and place this on the ground as I ask reception to call the Hedgehog Rescue Trust for the best advice (yes this is actually a thing!)

3.15pm – excitement over, hedgehogs safely secure in the box and the trust have asked if we can bring the Hedgehogs to them and they’ll take it from there.  It’s on my way home, so until that time we’ve got advice on what to put in the box with them and they are safe and secure under the reception desk!

3.30pm – meeting with senior management team to discuss building facilities and budgets.

4.45pm – I leave the meeting and head back up to my desk, the office is starting to get quiet now as a few members of staff start leaving from about 4pm.  Check emails but there isn’t anything urgent, so I start to do my final walk around and office check, making sure that lights are switched off, blinds are shut, and the heating/air conditioning has been turned off.

6.15pm – I’m the last to leave the office this evening, so have locked up and luckily enough will have missed a little bit of the traffic on my way to the Hedgehog sanctuary!

Of course, this isn’t every day for every Office Manager.  However, due to the varied nature of the role, every day is of course very different.  What it does highlight is what happens and goes on behind the scenes and this is only skimming the surface we know!

We’d love to hear your office stories and if you have a “typical” day – comment below and let us know!

If you’re also on the look out for some great deals on compatible ink, at reasonable prices with a quick turnaround on delivery then call us on 0113 873 0135 or visit us online for all your compatible ink needs!

 

How do I buy the best printer for my small business

 

No matter what size office or environment you work from, the office printer is the one piece of equipment that is always deemed as essential.

We talk about being in the digital age, but there are still a number of people (myself included) that like the option for hard copies to be made available – hence the printer may have adapted with changes in technology and advances, but it will never go away completely.

However, when it comes to what you need from a printer, this is different for each business as well as team and individual!  We all use printers for different things and for different purposes, depending on the line of business that we’re in and also what our working preferences are. These differences are what will make up the requirements of what we look for in a printer.

There is a huge range of excellent printers and software available to meet all your needs.  What we’ve provided below is some quick tips on things to make sure you consider as well as look out for, when buying a printer for a small business.

 

Things to consider:

 

  1. Think multi-functional.  No, we’re not trying to make you buy the one with the most gadgets and “thingy me jigs” but we do want you to think about other things that the printer could be used for. Buying one printer that serves many purposes compared to multiple devices is much more cost efficient (and also stands much less chance of driving you crazy)!  Think about printing. What is it that you’re printing, mainly text, mainly photos? Are you printing from one computer, multiple, or even from your mobile or tablet devices? What about scanning documents, would this be useful, effective? What about quality of photocopying and again just what is it your photocopying so that you achieve a perfect replica?

 

 

  • Laser vs inkjet

 

If we’re honest this does depend on what you’re going to be using the printer for.  However, we’ve outlined just what each can do and some of the things that maybe you would need to consider when you’re looking to purchase.

 

Inkjet printers can be great for photos and image heavy documents as they are better at blending and smoothing colours compared to a laser printer.  Which means that inkjet is also more suitable for printing on different types of paper including glossy photo paper. However, with a laser printer, plain printing can be ultra-sharp, especially if the text is black.  Again, it comes down to what your printer will be used for the most.

 

Inkjet printers tend to be cheaper than laser printers and inkjet cartridges are also cheaper that toner cartridges too. Inkjet printers can be easier to maintain however laser printers run much faster than inkjet, so if you do print high volumes it’s worth considering how valuable your time is!

 

  • Then think ink vs volumes

 

Depending on what you are printing of course does depend on how much ink you’ll use.  If you have extremely large, one-off print volumes for example, it might be worth looking at getting a price comparison from an external printer, to help save on those ink costs.

 

Also, don’t be put off when it comes to the cost of ink, as with compatible ink cartridges you could save up to 70% on price AND, with most compatible ink and toner cartridges you will find you get more for your money in terms of volume, meaning your printing literally will last you longer.

 

At Compatink, we’re pleased to be able to offer this service to small businesses and help support you with your printer needs.  We have an extensive catalogue, outlining all ink and toners compatible with all of the major printer brands and we guarantee to be cheaper on price.

 

 

  • Wired or wireless

 

Yes, this may seem pretty straight forward but there are benefits as well as negatives to both of these options when it comes to choosing your printer.  

 

A wired printer is just that, a printer which is connected to your computer through a USB device.  A wired printer is very easy to install. In most cases once you insert the USB your computer will prompt you to do the rest in terms of setup.  You can also share a wired printer over a network, however a word of caution, if the computer which is connected to the printer shuts down, everyone else currently printing or wanting to print later on that day will lose their connection.

 

Wireless printers are of course the most common in this day and age.  Similar to a network printer but instead of an Ethernet cable it is connected via WIFI.  When choosing a wireless printer however you must make sure that your network type as well as the printer’s capability match, and of course the software will have to be installed onto all devices you require to have access to the printer.

 

Wired printers are usually the cheaper option and the easiest to set up, but wireless gives you much more flexibility meaning you can print from anywhere without being restricted and for us personally the less wires the better!

 

 

  • Which brand?

 

This can sometimes be down to personal preference, but what also needs to be taken into consideration, is the answer to all of the above questions when it comes to what your needs are and then ultimately cost.  Printers can be an expensive business so look at what is on offer and also have a budget in mind. Then consider maintenance costs if something goes wrong with the machine, and you have to pay for their repair service and parts.  Also investigate the option of buying or leasing, depending on what you choose and also the size of your business. Leasing your printers and paying a service fee could be a better option for you to help with costs.

 

There are some great printers now available for small businesses, which offer a number of solutions and trust us, there is most definitely something for everyone.

 

If you’re looking for advice on ink and toner cartridges as well as costs and more then check out Compatink’s website, filled with compatible ink solutions at a fraction of the costs of originals.  We also have a comprehensive catalogue and a great search tool, so you don’t have to spend hours finding the right ink or toner!

 

Or if you have any specific questions which you’d like to ask, then give us a call on: 0113 873 0135 we’d be happy to help!

 

Finally, if you have a printer which screams out for a recommendation, which you would like other small businesses to be aware of, then please comment and share your thoughts below!

Genuine vs Compatible Cartridges. The Truth.

In the office world it’s the ultimate debate.

What’s better for your printer…original ink or compatible cartridges?!

It’s a complicated debate with comments and opinions based around quality, price and budgets, everyone can have an opinion.  But do they really know the facts?

Do actually they know what the differences are beyond quality and price? Would they be able to notice the difference if you were to do a blind test using the different cartridges? We doubt very much this would be the case However at Compatink we sell compatible ink, so some might say we would say that!

Today we have put our feelings put aside. We want all office managers and admin teams to be armed with the facts. The answers to the key questions you will most certainly be asked if you do change ink suppliers.

We’ve pulled together some handy information and tips to help you on your ink journey!

Starting at the beginning!

What actually is the difference?

The definition of a compatible cartridge – it’s a brand-new cartridge which has been produced/filled by a third party.  A third party which has no association or link to the numerous printer brands/manufacturers on the market.

An original cartridge however, is a brand-new ink or toner cartridge which has been produced by the actual printer manufacturer.

Original ink is also often produced using a formula in designed to protect and clean the print heads during use.  This  formula isn’t included in compatible ink. That’s not to say its bad. Compatibles just have to be used wisely.  For example, it’s recommended that if you do a lot of printing, you should use an original ink cartridge to every 3/4 compatible inks.

What about the price?

Here we come to the number one benefit of compatible cartridges. Compatible ink can be considerably cheaper to purchase.  One of the main reasons is that for original ink manufacturers, such as HP or Canon, have much bigger overheads. Unfortunately for you as the consumer means higher prices. This way they can not only recoup their costs but also make a profit. Also the manufacturers often build the printers and sell them at a loss. They then recoup this loss by selling the printer owner the company cartridges at higher prices. 

The good news is, compatible ink suppliers have no such overheads and pass these cost savings onto consumers. However, a word of caution. Be wary of those that offer HUGE discounts, because quality can be affected. always buy from a reputable supplier. Also be wary of those claiming unrealistic expectations for their cartridges. If you are a professional photographer for example, compatible cartridges are unlikely to be the right choice to print your photographs. No matter what the seller may try an

Machine performance

It’s often thought that compatible ink can be dangerous for printers and be the cause of the many faults and breakages.  However, (and again it does come down to buying from a quality supplier) such a claim quite simply, isn’t true.

Yes, printers break, however the likelihood of this happening due to using compatible ink is extremely slim.  It is much more likely any damage is caused by a fault with the printer itself. As long as you use the cartridge properly it should not cause any damage. Also it is illegal for a company to void any warranty for using a compatible cartridge so don’t worry. 

Is there a difference in print quality?

We could just answer this question with a resounding…no.  But we love an explanation.

Ok, so no there is no difference in the print quality when using an original ink compared to a compatible ink, but you don’t just have to take our word for it.  

Which? have also reported that when they carried out a survey with their 8,446 members the top five printer-ink brands were all third-party inks, with a difference in quality not being noticeable. 81% of people also reported having no issues with the cartridges at all. When they did it was usually an issue with the printer not recognising the cartridge. This is an issue with all cartridges and is only marginally more common with compatibles. 

Print Usage

If you do print large volumes of texts and documents, compatible ink will most certainly provide you with the most value for money. Those office budgets need to go as far as possible after all.  As not only is it cheaper to purchase but you will also find that compatibles contain more ink than originals when it comes to volumes. If you are an Office manager making this switch might be the best money saving decision you make all year. Lets face it this job is difficult enough without having to compare different types of inks. 

Making your budget when it comes to print costs go much further!

Remember it isn’t perfect for everything, such as photography as previously mentioned. But,  If you do your research and aren’t afraid to test out the products you could really make a difference to your budget.

Compatink

All of the information above highlights the facts as well as the differences between compatible and original ink.  Hopefully it also helps to put to bed any myths about compatible ink.

What’s important and what we can’t stress enough is that when it comes down to quality, buying from a great and reputable third-party supplier is crucial.  Not only does it allow you to make sure that quality will not be affected but you can also rest assure that if there are any problems, these can be sorted asap.

At Compatink we’re all about the service!  We know the questions you and your team have, and we want to help provide you with the answers, putting your mind at rest and providing you with a quick ordering system as well as high quality ink at low prices.

If you are looking for high quality compatible ink for your office or home printer, why not give us a call today on 0113 873 0135 or visit our website for more information on just what Compatink can for you you!

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