Make it someone’s job.
If keeping the company supply closet tidy is everyone’s responsibility, no one will do it, warns Janet Bernstein, founder of The Organizing Professionals.
You need to know exactly how much space your closet has. “If you have a small closet with room for two cases of paper, you shouldn’t order six,” says Susie Hayman, founder of In Your Business, a professional organizing and productivity service, and president of the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals.
Send a survey.
Poll your colleagues to find out which supplies they actually use and which ones they don’t, Bernstein says.
Empty it out.
Only then can you complete an assessment of what’s actually in there. “The first time you do this will be the worst,” Bernstein says.
Think of the vertically challenged.
“For shorter employees, have a stool available so they can access the higher shelves,” Hayman says.
Make everything visible.
Put pens and pencils into clear containers. Don’t rely only on labels—people prefer to assess everything at a glance.
Maximize shelf space.
“So many company closets have just a few shelves and huge amounts of unused space between them,” Bernstein says. Install more shelves and get containers to stack smaller items on them.
Create a hierarchy.
Give the most used items—like binder clips and pens—prime real estate at eye level. Put less used items up top and heavier stuff on lower shelves.
Sort like with like.
Small desk supplies should go in one place, types of paper in another, and electronics in yet another, Hayman says. You could even put all the things that “fix” together, such as tape, glue and clips. And make sure the order flows logically. The printer paper should go next to the printer cartridges, for example.
Clean it out every six months.
Have your closet coordinator schedule a recurring event twice a year to toss or recycle anything not being used, Bernstein suggests.
Illustration by Colin Hayes