Tickle Your Funny Bone: 20 Desk Toys for the Office

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Personalizing your work-space can boost your moral. Fun gadgets and toys can keep you company during those long work hours and provide some amusement to break the stress. A hilarious or unexpected knick-knack can spark conversations with co-workers or maybe even customers and clients.

Check out this list of 20 desk toys for the office that can bring a smile to your face.

Pick Up the Cent Bank

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Loose change can be a bother, but here’s our two cents. Turn those spare coins into a source of amusement with this Pick Up the Cent Bank available at ModCloth. Just place a coin on the button and wait for the kitty to pop out and swipe it away.

5 Years of Dino Land Planters

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Get a blast from the past with one of these assorted 5 Years of Dino Land Planters from Etsy member crazycouture. The humble plastic dino gets a new life as a place for your favorite office plant. There are also a selection of animals planters if you prefer. Besides bringing a smile, there are also the added health benefits to having a little green in your work space.

Cell Phone Fiddle Plaque

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Place this Cell Phone Fiddle Plaque from Perpetual Kid in your office for a two-fold effect. Get a laugh from co-workers but also give them a friendly reminder to be considerate.

Blox Ice-Bat

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It’s so ugly, it’s … or, who are we kidding, it’s just plain cute. This blox ice-bat from Uglydoll is one of a menagerie of cool little creatures. Anyone of them could be a welcome addition to your office space. You can’t really help but stop and laugh when catching site of this little guy’s face. Who knew a vinyl figurine could lift your spirits?

Snowtime Anytime Snowballs

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Keep this pile of plush Snowtime Anytime Snowballs from Think Geek around and you can start your own office snowball fight. You never have to worry about them melting and creating a mess. They are fun year-round. Bonus points for being machine washable!

Genius Paperclip Holder

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No digging for paperclips in the bottom of a drawer for you. This Genius Paperclip Holder keeps your supplies at hand and a smile on your face. Who knows? It may even help you come up with that next brilliant business idea.

USB Pet Rock

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The ordinary pet rock is getting a high tech upgrade, though it’s kind of hard to see how it could improve its usefulness. This USB Pet Rock from Firebox.com may just sit on a desk all day. But it can also provide a sense of amusement for you, co-workers or visitors to your office. Best pet ever.

Maki Tacks Sushi Pushpins

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Is that sushi sitting on their desk? Nope, but it is a fun and useful office accessory fit for raw fish lovers. These Maki Tacks Sushi Pushpins from Perpetual Kid are a charming point of interest and can be used to pin important memos to the corkboard. Just don’t be tempted to eat this sushi for lunch.

Captain Jules’s Useless Box

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As the name suggests, Captain Jules Useless Box from Think Geek is …. well, useless. That is unless you think getting a laugh from your co-workers is a valuable commodity. Press the button and watch the gears turn as the box opens. Then watch it promptly shut again. Yep, that’s all it does. But it may also put a smile on your face after a long day.

Gnome-Be-Gone Decision Maker

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This one is for the indecisive individual with a taste for humor — and the need for a place to put your pens. Spin the base of the Gnome-Be-Gone Decision Maker from Uncommon Goods and get an answer to your pressing questions. Plus it’s an amusing piece of reclaimed steel design that’s sure to be a conversation starter.

Shot From a Cannon Bookends

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So this one isn’t necessarily an office toy, but it is a whole lot of fun. These Shot From a Cannon Bookendsadd a touch of amusement and whimsy to any work place. They can be displayed on your bookshelf or even desk.

Pop! Animation

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This line of vinyl figures features characters from countless movies, TV shows, games, and more. The signature big eyes and head sit atop little detailed bodies for an undeniably fun toy. With so many to choose from the problem becomes where to stop.

Tengu USB-Powered Character

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It will keep you company during those long hours at the office. Tengu lights up to brighten your day and lip syncs to music, your voice, or other noises.

10-Doh! Figure

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Its name is a pun. This figurine is crafted to look like an old Nintendo game cartridge and can grace the desk of anyone with a gamer heart. You can even personalize it with an option to design your own game label.

Tabletop Air Hockey

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Here’s one for the arcade lovers. This tabletop version is a functioning mini replica of the ever popular game. Keep this on your desk and you’ve got a boredom buster that you can share.

Stuffed Blobfish

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He’s hilarious because he’s so ugly. Ugly and yet lovable. This pink plush is in the shape of the endangered blob fish, considered by some to be the ugliest creature in the world. But hey, blob fish need love too!

Desktop Dumpster

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Do you find yourself in the middle of the day and itching to express your graffiti art? With this desktop dumpster you can have a convenient and legal place to tag right at the office.

Mini Wind-Up Robot

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Wind-up robots are a classic and showcase your fun side. Sit this guy on your desk and you’ve got a space-age buddy that offers laughs and entertainment.

Panda Pile-Up

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No one will be expecting this one. A pile of pandas is fun enough but this desk toy is also a game. See how many you can manage to stack on the tire using a pair of chopsticks.

Toymail

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These odd creatures sit on your desk and can receive messages. Messages are sent through an app and your desktop pet will snort, wheeze, howl or growl to let you know. To add to the humor messages can be read back to you in a funny voice.

So there it is, a list of fun and hilarious desk toys for the office you might not have seen before. Hopefully it’s given you some inspiration and laughs. Don’t be afraid to add a little humor to your day at work.

Drinking Bird Toy Photo via Shutterstock

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21 Home Office Must Haves

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Working from the comfort of your own home may sound like a dream. But if you don’t have all the right elements for your home office, it can have a detrimental effect on your productivity and even your health and happiness.

No two home offices are the same. But regardless of the size and layout of your space, there are some elements that can help make it a more productive space. Here are some of the most important elements.

Good Lighting

The light in your office is essential, not only for your ability to clearly see your work, but also for the entire mood and atmosphere. If possible, set up your office in a room that has a lot of windows so your workspace will be full of natural light. If that isn’t possible, ensure that your artificial lighting is sufficient and warm — not just a single fluorescent bulb in the corner.

Adjustable Desk

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Sitting at a desk all day long, even if it’s in your own home, can be draining and even detrimental to your health. But if you have a desk that adjusts to different heights, you can switch from sitting to standing whenever you’d like throughout the day. Adjustable desks are available at home and office supply stores, or you can even make your own.

Comfortable Chair

When you do choose to sit, it’s important to be comfortable. So choose a chair that offers ergonomic support and adjustable features.

Some Personalized Decorations

Your home office is your own personal space, so it should make you comfortable and happy. Fill it with artwork, desk toys, and even some creative or personalized office accessories to really make it your own.

Plants

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Plants are another way to add some visual interest to your office space. But they can also have other benefits like air purification and creating separation between different parts of a room.

Good Computer

The computer you choose for your home office has the potential to make a huge impact on your productivity and success. So choose one that’s completely customized to your needs. If you tend to work from different parts of your office, a laptop might be best. If you stay put at your desk and work on multiple projects at once, a desktop with multiple monitors is likely a better choice. Make sure the model, hardware and software are what’s best suited to your individual working habits.

High-speed Internet

A good Internet connection keeps you just a click away from your online accounts, other team members and a whole host of other tools that can help you run your business from home. Whether you use a desktop, laptop or multiple devices, you’ll need to ensure that your Internet provider is fast and reliable enough to keep you on top of things.

Good Printer

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Depending on your business needs, a good printer, scanner, or all-in-one device can be a good investment. If you need or want to keep hard copies of documents, then an actual printer is likely a necessity. But if you tend to stick with digital copies and just occasionally need to send a copy of a tangible document, a simple scanner might be enough. You’ll need to examine your own needs to really decide which type is best for you.

Communications System

To best communicate with your team, clients or anyone else, a reliable communications system is a must. You might consider getting a separate phone line specifically for business calls. But online and VoIP services like Nextiva and Skype for Business can also be good options.

Surge Protectors

When you’ve invested a lot of money into electrical devices and equipment to run your business from home, the last thing you want is to see that equipment ruined. Surge protectors offer a really simple and easy solution to protect your devices from damaging electrical surges.

Exercise Equipment

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Getting some physical activity in throughout the day is essential to a healthy work-at-home lifestyle. Depending on your preferences, you might consider adding a treadmill, stationary bike or some free weights to your space. Some people even use stability balls in place of chairs to build core strength. Or, if you’re really into multitasking, there’s always the treadmill desk.

Calendar

Staying organized is just as important when you work from home as it is in a traditional office. Keep a calendar or planner in a prominent location in your office so you don’t lose track of important appointments or deadlines.

Filing System

You’ll also need a place to store and organize your important documents and files. A traditional filing cabinet usually does the trick. But if you’re more of a minimalist, you can opt for a smaller file folder and then just scan the rest of your documents to keep digital copies.

Safe

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For those items that are really important or sensitive, a safe may also be necessary. Find one that’s large enough for some important documents and any expensive equipment you might have that you want to keep safe either on a daily basis or just when you leave for lengthy periods.

Office Supply Cache

Don’t let yourself get sidetracked from important tasks just because you’re running low on printer ink or can’t find a pen. Constantly keep your office stocked full of all the supplies you use regularly so that you’ll never need to make an office supply run in the middle of the day.

Radio, Media Player

Music can be a great way to drown out any background noise that may be happening around your home and keep you focused on the task at hand. Choose a radio or streaming station with some instrumental music if you tend to get distracted by lyrics. And try to avoid stations with ads if at all possible.

Healthy Snacks

You’ll need fuel to power through any productive work day. Keep some healthy snacks in or near your office so that you won’t have to leave on a fast food run or settle for food that will have you feeling less-than-stellar later.

Coffee, Tea

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Caffeine can also be a powerful productivity booster, in moderation of course. Keep a coffee pot or some tea in or around your office so you always have quick access whenever you need a coffee break.

Temperature Controls

You likely already have the ability to control the basic temperature of your home. But if your office is in an area, like a basement or top floor, that tends to be hotter or colder than the rest of your home, you’ll still need to stay comfortable. Try a space heater or fan if you find that the temperature is a bit off in one way or another.

Alarm Clock, Timer

Keeping a regular work schedule is essential to a productive work-from-home life. Use an alarm to wake up at the same time every day, just as you would when working at a regular office. You can even use an alarm or timer to signal the end of your work day or the end of a specific task you need to spend time on.

Door

One of the most important factors of a successful home office is its ability to be separated from the rest of your home. If you simply work from your bed or couch, the day can really get away from you and you’ll find yourself either getting distracted from work by non-work demands around you.

If you absolutely can’t have a door or some kind of physical barrier separating you from the rest of your home, try staging the space so it’s clearly designated as your office. And only spend time working from that one space, rather than migrating to your couch or kitchen table. But if you’ve already included all the elements above, who would want to work anywhere else?

Home Office Photo via Shutterstock, Other Images: Wikipedia

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Brother Introduces More INKvestment All-in-One Printers for the Home Office

Brother Introduces New Business Smart Printers for the Home Office

If you’re looking for a new all-in-one printer for your home office, you just got a few new options. Brother (TYO:6448) just introduced a new line of all-in-one devices that are designed specifically for small businesses as part of its INKvestment line of printers.

Brother Introduces New Business Smart Printers

There are two new models available this month, including the Business Smart Plus MFC-J5830DW andBusiness Smart Pro MFC-J6535DW. And the company is also releasing the XL versions of those devices, which can support businesses with larger printing volumes, in November.

Both devices come with mobile connectivity features, including the ability to print from smartphones and other mobile devices using WiFi and the ability to work with services like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Users can also scan documents to popular services like Google Drive and Dropbox, or use free Brother cloud apps to fine tune documents.

Mobile and cloud features are becoming increasingly important to small businesses. But the main draw of these new devices, according to Brother, is the ability for businesses to save time and money when it comes to printing.

Phil Lubell, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Brother International Corporation said in a company statement, “The top-of-mind concerns of small businesses when it comes to printers are the cost of ink, cartridge yields and the durability of their printer. This expanded line of Brother INKvestment all-in-ones was developed specifically for small businesses. With its high-quality printing, rich feature package, durable build, and low-cost ink cartridges, customers can spend less time worrying about buying ink and more time growing their businesses.”

According to Brother, the cost of printing on these new devices is less than a penny per page for black and less than a nickel per page in color. They also come with the ability to connect to Amazon Dash Replenishment, so you can get new ink automatically instead of needing to make a separate trip.

In addition to the new releases this month, Brother is also releasing two supplementary models in December. The MFC-J5930DW and MFC-J6935DW devices offer similar benefits, but with additional paper trays and automatic two-sided copying and scanning features.

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How Does Closing 300 Stores Help Office Depot Grow? (Watch)

Image result for How Does Closing 300 Stores Help Office Depot Grow? (Watch)Office Depot is closing 300 retail stores in an attempt to save its overall business. The closing of those retail locations shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since the whole retail office supply industry has been struggling to keep up with online retailers like Amazon for years.

But while closing hundreds of stores might not seem like the sign of a business moving forward, in this case Office Depot is actually using this opportunity to build a better shopping experience for modern consumers. Instead of using all of its resources trying to maintain retail locations, the company is reallocating those resources onto things like mobile apps and online stores, while maintaining a smaller brick and mortar retail presence.

The industry is still in a state of flux, like many other markets that have been impacted by the changing online business landscape. But these store closures could potentially lead to a better outlook for Office Depot, if the company is able to cut costs enough to compete with Amazon and similar retailers.

Do You Run an Agile Organization?

Running any sort of business means needing to adapt from time to time, even when those changes don’t seem ideal. But for those who try to hang onto outdated models and practices, it could be too late to make changes when you realize they’ve become necessary.

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How to Save on Energy Costs in Your Office

how to save on energy costs

Saving energy is good business, because it cuts expenses. It’s also environmentally wise and responsible. There are any number of things you can do to save on energy costs in your office. They range from simple things each of us can do (like turning off lights) to ambitious upgrades. Let’s go through 12 ways to save energy in a small business office:

1. Turn Off Lights

Sounds obvious right? Well … not as obvious as it might seem. According to one survey by Lutron, 90% of Americans know of someone who forgets to turn out lights when leaving a room. Do you have signs next to light switches in conference rooms to turn out lights? Have you considered motion-activated lights in little-used hallways or common areas, that will turn off after a period of time and turn on only when someone enters the space? Think of ways to remind people to turn off lights, or have lights turn on and off automatically.

2. Upgrade Your Lights

By now, most of us know that incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. LED and fluorescent lights, as well as UID lights for large spaces, are better energy choices. But even with fluorescent lights, you may want to upgrade the fixtures, as older versions tend to be less energy efficient.

When looking for replacement bulbs, lumens are in, watts are out. Lumens measure how much light the bulb delivers. Watts measure how much energy is being consumed. Look for energy efficient bulbs delivering the lumens you need.

Don’t forget your Exit signs, either — they are often a high energy use. Retrofit or upgrade them to run off of LED lights.

3. Use Power Management Settings on Equipment

Screensavers used to be in vogue. But not anymore. Today, a black screen on a computer monitor not in use is a beautiful sight. On computers, printers and other pieces of office equipment, use the recommended power management settings to shut them off or go into hibernate mode when technology is not in use.

4. Move IT to the Cloud

Consider getting rid of your computer servers, and instead going with cloud-based systems. No more running multiple servers or cooling of that hot data center is needed. On top of that, more employees could telecommute. According to one survey in 2010, a small business with 100 users could cut its carbon footprint and energy costs by 90% by moving to the cloud.

There may be multiple reasons to move — or not move — to the cloud. But when evaluating that move, be sure to consider the energy impact as one factor.

5. Sign a Truce in the Thermostat Wars

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of an office thermostat war? According to a survey by CareerBuilder, almost half of employees said their offices were either too hot — or too cold.

Some employers put thermostats only in the hands of management to control — and avoid the constant adjusting of the thermostat by individuals.

Newer thermostat systems such as the Nest, have a feature called Thermostat Lock. This allows employees to adjust temperature but only within a certain range of a few degrees, to keep energy bills from getting out of hand.

A few fans in your office can also help it seem cooler in summer, and cost less than air conditioning to run.

And of course, there’s no sense in unnecessarily heating or cooling an empty office. Use a programmable thermostat that adjusts temperature at night and on weekends. One can pay for itself in no time.

6. Replace Old Equipment with Energy Star Rated Equipment

Whether it’s the refrigerator in the lunch room, the exhaust fans in the bathrooms, the printers, the HVAC system or the lighting fixtures — it may pay to upgrade to energy efficient models, especially if you have a lot of older equipment. Energy Star is an independent rating system for energy efficient products; so look for the Energy Star symbol and rating.

What’s more, the Energy Star website has a variety of valuable educationalresources and tools just for small businesses. You can find a benchmarking tool to assess how energy efficient your building is. There are also guides for saving energy in specific types of small businesses — such as auto dealers, manufacturers, restaurants and retail.

7. Make Faucets, Toilets and Water Heaters Efficient

Leaking faucets and other fixtures can result in hundreds to thousands of dollars in extra water bills each year. Also, insulate your water heater if necessary to cut down on heating costs. Adjust the temperature of hot water heaters, too. Experts recommend between 110 and 120 degrees.

8. Control Sun Through Window Areas

Office buildings tend to have lots of windows, and during the summer or in southern locations, this puts an added load on your air conditioning system. Not to mention, it puts a load on your cooling bills.

Solar window film, blinds and awnings can help your office keep its cool.

9. Don’t Forget the Landscaping!

A landscaping design for your facility that is water intensive, can use a tremendous amount of water resources. Switch to xeriscaping or native plants that don’t need to be coddled with excessive water. If possible (and if within local code) “reuse” water from a local pond or rainwater runoff for watering your outdoor landscaping.

10. Fix Leaks Around Windows and Doors

A few tubes of caulking around windows, or some weather stripping around doors, may prevent energy loss that drives up HVAC bills.

11. Look Into Energy Savings Programs

Many electric providers are working to reduce demand in hot summer months, to avoid brownouts and other issues. So they are offering discounts to business customers that sign up for energy savings programs. The programs include everything from energy audits, to rebates for retiring energy-inefficient equipment. The source to find out all these programs and see what’s available in your state, is the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management website. It has links to each state, and from there you can get to individual programs by electric providers.

Shop around also, for energy providers, as you may now have a choice for such providers as your natural gas source. Sometimes local business groups even offer special rates. For example, the Council of Small Enterprises in Ohio offers its members a special natural gas savings program.

12. Check Into Renewable Energy Sources

Solar power and other renewable energy is a long way from replacing electricity or gas completely for the vast majority of businesses. But solar panels, geo-thermal heat pumps, wind mills and other renewable energy sources may be used to reduce reliance on traditional energy. There are incentives and programs just for these — ranging from tax breaks and rebates, to grants and loan programs. Check out the DSIRE database of energy efficiency programs run by North Carolina State University.

Finally, one bonus tip: get employees involved. Make it a competition to see who can come up with the best idea for saving on energy. Print up a few signs and make it a fun challenge!

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