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April 13, 2020
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The Average Cost Per Month for Office Supplies

office supply budget

There are many ways to improve the efficiency of your office’s monthly operational costs, and one of the areas you should pay attention to is your office supply budget. Keeping track of the average cost of office supplies that your employees use from one month to the next will help you create a realistic office supply budget that is easy to adhere to without compromising workflow and work quality. 

Cost Per Employee 

Your office supply budget will depend on the size of your company or, more specifically, how many employees you have. A larger company will spend a lot more on office supplies overall, but the average cost per employee will be lower. On the other hand, a smaller company will have a smaller office supply budget but a higher cost per employee. This discrepancy is largely caused by the fact that companies with more employees buy office supplies in bulk, and bulk pricing often means that the prices of individual items are lower. But keep in mind that buying in bulk only makes good financial sense if the office supplies are being used properly. 

Here’s a breakdown of the average cost per employee across various business sizes, based on an OPI.net’s 2014 article

  • A company with 1-4 employees has an average office supply cost of up to $1,844 per employee, per year — or $153.67 per employee, per month. 
  • A 40-person office (or a medium-sized company) has an average office supply cost of about $1,069 per employee, per year — or $89.08 per month. 
  • A large company with more than 200 employees has an average office supply cost of $639 per employee, per year — or only $53.25 per month.

According to the same article, about 50-60% of the office spend listed above is for “traditional office supplies and computer consumables”; the rest is for tech equipment (25%), furniture, and janitorial/breakroom supplies. When we apply the percentage estimate for office supplies, then the average cost of office supplies per employee, per month is as follows:

  • Small company: $77 - $92
  • Medium-sized company: $44 - $53
  • Large company: $27 - $32

How to Budget Office Supplies with Digital Use? 

Office supply costs are mostly attributed to consumables, such as paper, envelopes, folders, pens, computer ink, etc. With many businesses migrating a lot of their work to the digital space, the need for these consumables has gone lower and, therefore, allocations in the budget for these supplies can be cut considerably. 

Here are digital options for common office tasks that will help you to budget your office supplies:

  1. Email documents to clients and memos to employees instead of printing them. 
  2. Digitize all record-keeping tasks. 
  3. Digitize financial statements. 
  4. Consider paperless marketing. 
  5. Invest in digital signature software. 
  6. Use an internal electric communication platform. 

Other Ways to Reduce Office Supply Costs

In addition to going digital, here are more ways to help you reduce office supply costs:

  • Find reliable vendors and stick to them so you can enjoy vendor discounts and other price deals. 
  • Items that you use most frequently can be bought in large quantities so you can get bulk pricing. 
  • Make a list of documents that need to be printed; printing documents not on the list will require a supervisor’s approval. 
  • Keep track of each and every office item taken out of the supply room. Have employees submit an email request for office supplies they need. 
  • Encourage all your employees to do their part in reducing expenditures for office supplies. 
  • Figure out your current cost-per-click rate for the office equipment you’re leasing, i.e., how much you’re paying for each page you print. It might be time to shop around and upgrade your equipment. 
  • If your office equipment requires more maintenance and servicing than usual and office workflow often gets interrupted as a result, you should consider allocating money in your office supply budget for a newer and more reliable model.
  • Take stock of all the office equipment you’re currently using and figure out if upgrading to the latest technology will be better for office workflow and also be more cost-efficient in the long term. 

Especially if your goal for the company is workflow automation/digitization, technology upgrades for your office — whether they’re software applications, intuitive touchscreens, mobile printing, better energy efficiency, advanced finishing options, or enhanced security features — should be a primary consideration when preparing your office supply budget. 

Reuse and Recycle 

Encouraging all your employees to reuse and recycle is not only good for your office supply budget but even better for the planet. Here are ways to ramp up your office recycling efforts:

  1. Place a recycling bin beside each printer and a reminder for employees to leave any paper they don’t need in the bin. If possible, you should also consider putting a recycling bin under each of your employees’ desks. 
  2. Make reusable silverware, plates, and coffee mugs available in the office break room or kitchen. Encourage employees to use these instead of bringing and using disposable utensils and cups, and remind them to always wash whatever they use and return them. 
  3. Regularly organize a recycling drive for old or broken electronics, which may include your employees’ personal devices. You may even offer a cashback for any used personal technology they bring to encourage them to participate. As a company, you should know how to appropriately recycle these products.   
  4. Shop around for green products, such as refillable pens and pencils that can be planted. 
  5. Collect all empty boxes from deliveries for recycling. 
  6. Make sure you have a well-defined office recycling initiative, and put up “Reuse & Recycle” reminders everywhere in the office. 

Final Thoughts: Restructuring Your Office Supply Budget to Be More Cost-Efficient

Even in today’s digital age, many consumable office supplies remain a necessity. Whether your goal for your office is to completely go paperless or to minimize office supply costs, the tips and strategies outlined above should get you on the right track. 

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