Most of the time when we take a new administrative assistant or executive assistant position, part of our job duties is to order and maintain office supplies. Often, there is an already existing office supply cabinet, and we simply take note of what is currently used and reorder as necessary.
If you have to set up your office supply cabinet from nothing, though, what all do you need to order? Obviously, some specifics will be dictated by the type of office you work in and local preferences, but some generalities can certainly be added to your list.
I generally stock three basic colors of pens: black, blue and red. Medium point pens tend to be the favorite, but you may get requests occasionally for fine point. I find gel ink pens to be a nice mid-priced pen, but if expenses are an issue, good, old-fashioned ballpoints work just fine, and you can get great deals by buying store brands. My personal favorite pen is the Pilot G2 Retractable Gel Ink Roller Ball Pen (associate link). It’s a nice mid-price pen with a good grip, smooth writing flow, and it doesn’t leak ink like some other gels I’ve bought in the past.
If anyone uses mechanical pencils, keep a supply of lead on hand, but you should probably keep a small supply of plain #2 pencils. The amount of pencils and lead to keep around will vary depending on your industry. Engineers tend to use a great deal of pencils. Social workers not so much. A few erasers are also good to have in the closet. The Clic Eraser Pen Style Erasers (associate link) are popular with folks who use pencils frequently.
Obviously you need copy paper on hand. Copy paper is a good way to save money if that is a consideration. However, be aware that the cheapest copy paper can also cause jam problems in today’s high speed copiers and printers. So if buying the absolutely cheapest paper isn’t a necessity, and you don’t want to spend part of every day on your hands and knees in front of the copier, you might want to look at a mid-grade copy paper.
Keeping a ream or three of various colored copy paper is good to have on-hand. Every once in a while someone will want to color code a document or cover pages.
Writing pads are another item of which you should keep adequate supplies. The specifics, again, will depend on the folks you work with. Most of the time, I find white, 8.5×11 legal pads satisfy most people. Again, if money is an issue, look at the store brands for a good deal on legal pads. I’ve found that employees who are frequently out of the office, such as salespeople and case managers, tend to like spiral notebooks or steno pads because the pages don’t come loose easily, and they can track their notes better. Again, though, the specifics will vary from office to office.
Post-it type pads are another item to keep stocked, preferably in a number of sizes. I usually keep the smallest notepads (1.5×2) and the 3×3 notepad on hand. If you have people who use the pop-up holders, you’ll need to get the fan fold post-it pads.