Commodities for the Cube Crowd
One of the great recurring gags in the 1999 cult comedy Office Space is that of Milton, the mumbling, marginalized cube drone whose only request—that his misappropriated Red Swingline stapler be returned to him—is perpetually ignored. Eventually, Milton's frustration builds from quiet rage into a literal firestorm when he burns the office down in retribution.
For office workers everywhere, it's a familiar story. Not the arson (at least, we hope not), but the chronic shortage of office supplies. Sanity is already at a premium in cube-land, and having to deal with paperclip hoarders and fisticuffs over the last highlighter is enough to make even the most veteran 9-to-5 worker snap.
But you can help. Be a working class hero and provide the best possible office and desk items using the five tips on the right. (It's what Milton would have wanted.)
1. Pens: They're Still Cool
Despite increasingly inexpensive technological options (email, yelling things at Siri), pens remain a workhorse in the office, and the sales numbers prove it—writing instruments ranked second in total promotional products sales in 2011, according to a PPAI study. Still, if pens are too old-fashioned for your client's 21st-century tastes, consider offering a technological combo. "While tech items have had tremendous popularity, items have been adapted that fit both categories," said Dorene Lanza, director of marketing for Mobile, Alabama-based Crown Products. "A great example is the pen stylus. This is used both for writing and on iPads and other electronic devices."
Mark Gardyn, vice president of business development for Gordon Sinclair, New Hyde Park, N.Y., gave similar advice. "It's how you convert the basic functionality of the pen into an item that plays into the emergence of new technologies," he said.
2. Perception is Everything
Gardyn explained that recipients are more likely to find desk space for an item if it has high perceived value. He suggested tech items such as backup batteries for portable electronics and accessories for iPads and tablets.