Should You Be Auditing Your Office Furniture?

Do you ever worry that your office furniture is walking right out the front door? Sure, it’s a bit harder to smuggle out than a stapler or a pad of Post-Its, but it’s also way more valuable and expensive to replace. All told, employee theft costs companies up to $50 billion a year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Anything you can do to reduce that number is obviously a good thing. For this reason, some companies are turning to office furniture audits to make sure that they hold onto their assets.

How can you tell if an office furniture audit is right for your company? Ask yourself these questions:

1. How big is your company?


Office furniture audits are potentially expensive and time-consuming endeavors. For this reason, they’re more efficient tools for large companies rather than small ones. For a good case study, check out this account of SMS India’s recent office furniture audit. To get an idea of the scale we’re talking about here, SMS India used RFID tracking to log the locations of 210,000 pieces of office furniture. That’s a lot of equipment.

Of course, the good news is that if you don’t need to track 210,000 pieces of office furniture, you probably don’t need advanced technology to help with your audit.

2. Do you have a lot of time … or a lot of money?


SMS India turned to RFID technology to help save time during their office furniture audits — pretty much a necessity, at their size, but perhaps more than you need if you’re working on a smaller scale. (RFID, which stands for “radio frequency identification,” is the same technology that allows you to use EZ-Pass.) If you can afford man hours but not an initial investment in technology, you might be better off doing things manually, by tracking serial numbers.

3. Do you have a plan to deal with fraud?


Even after adopting the RFID program, SMS India had a problem with employees removing labels from offices and re-placing in on other equipment. (For unspecified reasons, although we can imagine a scenario in which someone might swap labels in order to make off with office furniture, or at least hide it from the audit.) The company’s solution was to switch to labels that wouldn’t work if placed on another piece of furniture. The new, fraud-proof labels solved the problem and enabled a more accurate count.

Regardless of whether you decide to do a full-scale audit, keeping track of your office furniture will help you prevent losing valuable assets.

Images: judgmentalist/Flickr, 401(k) 2013/Flickr, acampos/Flickr