What to Include in an Office Survival Kit

You’ve probably encountered a survival kit at some point. They’re everywhere now. Survival kits for the home. For the car. For the cottage or cabin. You can make one yourself with a backpack and a few select items (the DIY approach), or use one of the increasing number of companies that sell them to you pre-made and ready for disaster.

You can even get them at Costco. Is there anything they don’t have?!

If you follow the news, the world might seem to be a dangerous place. And there are many people - at home and abroad - that will tell anyone willing to listen that the end is nigh.

Divine judgment. Natural disasters. Global warming. The refugee crisis in Europe. Our own governments. And the zombie apocalypse. The world could end in any number of ways. Survivalists and doomsday preppers insist that it’s your responsibility to be prepared. Hope for the best, but expect the worst, and plan accordingly.

What You’ll Need When the Four Horsemen Appear

A survival kit is meant to help you do just that - survive. They include a few essential elements to get you through at least the first few days after society and civilization fall apart. You’ll need a first-aid kit, food and water for at least 3-5 days, a flashlight (the power grid will, of course, collapse), some kind of a noisemaker like a whistle or air horn for getting someone’s attention, face masks to protect you from airborne debris and zombie viruses, a hand-cranked radio, a knife, and perhaps even a gun.

Create or buy a kit for your home, keep one in your car, and send a mini version with Junior to kindergarten.

But what about the office? Sure, you could keep one there, too. We spend a depressing amount of our lives in our cubicles, so the chances of being at work when the end finally does come are rather high. Get one for there, too. Better safe than sorry.

The Office Survival Kit

That said, let’s assume that the world is going to be around for a while longer. We still spend upwards of eight hours each workday at the office. That’s a third of our day. A survival kit may not be a bad idea...but only “survival” in the loosest sense of the word. This kit just helps you make it through the day in as much comfort and sanity as possible.  

That doesn’t make it any less important. Everyone loves sanity, right? Here’s what you’ll need...

See Also: How to Survive a Workday With No Sleep

1. Earplugs

Offices are noisy. They’re loud. There’s always something going on: Dylan in accounting’s birthday party. Lucia’s baby shower luncheon in the breakroom. Peter’s riveting story about his son’s Timbit hockey game last night. You have Chatty Cathy to the left of your cubicle, and Radio Ronnie to the right (he’s always listening to the radio with the volume way too high).

Eliminate the noise with a good pair of comfortable earplugs (comfortable is the key word here). Put them in, and disappear to a magical place called “silence” (or at least closer to silence). You can get them at a drugstore or pharmacy, Walmart or Target, and even online (try Amazon). You may not need them every day, but when you do, you’ll be thrilled you have them.

2. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Along that same path, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. They reduce - if not eliminate - the ambient noise (i.e. the background noise all around us) in your office. Slip them on, and hear only what you want to listen to (sounds of nature, classical music, gangsta rap).

Some of them can be very expensive, but if you work better while listening to something, they’re worth the investment. You can enjoy Straight Outta Compton without bothering anyone around you. Look on Amazon for more affordable options.

3. Sewing Kit

A basic sewing kit can be found in any dollar store. It has thread in various colours, a few extra buttons, a few needles, and perhaps a thimble and a small pair of scissors. They’re great for quick, on-the-spot sewing when a button pops off your shirt 3 minutes before the big meeting. Fix it right then and there to avoid the “Fabio look” in front of your boss.

4. Stain Remover

Ditto a stain remover. No matter how hard you try, you will sometimes spill, splash, or drip something on yourself at work. The likelihood of this happening increases with the contrast between whatever it is you’re wearing, and whatever it is you’re eating or drinking (called the “Red on White Effect” by scientists).

Buy a few stain remover pens like Tide To Go, and keep them in your desk drawer. You’ll thank me later.

5. Pain Reliever

Headaches. We all get them. And the only thing worse than a bad headache is having it at work. There’s no place to hide. So be prepared.

Keep a pain reliever like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) in some office survival kit for whenever the drums start pounding in your head. Which one? That’s really up to you, although evidence does suggest that acetaminophen is typically better for headaches. You could also go the non-medicinal route and try Tiger Balm instead. It’s an external ointment that’s been helping people with aches and pains for over one hundred years. Rub some of the white Tiger Balm (better for headaches) on your temples and behind your ears when your head starts to throb. It works...and it’s also great for sore muscles and arthritis.

6. Eye Drops

Office spaces can be dry. Very dry. And staring at a computer screen does nothing for your eyes. Together, that can mean red, dry, itchy eyes for you.

The solution? Keep a bottle of eye drops in your kit. Fast, easy, and convenient, they instantly lubricate and provide soothing comfort. Some drops are manufactured specifically for allergies, or infections, or mattering. Buy something for dryness, redness, or itchiness - depending on your particular needs.

7. Assorted Bandages

A few band-aids in a drawer can be a life-saver. Well, not really, but you’ll appreciate them when you get a nasty paper cut, a painful blister, or accidentally staple your finger to that report (that does happen, you know). Buy a box of assorted sizes, shapes, and styles...and never again bleed out while trying to use glue or scotch tape.

8. Your Favourite Tea or Coffee

Need to relax? Need to unwind and calm down after - or before - that big presentation? Try a soothing cup of your favourite tea or coffee. Keep a box, a few bags, or a few packets in your office survival kit for “emergencies” like that. It’s like a warm, comforting cup of aromatherapy. It appeals to three of your senses with one simple solution: the heat from the cup, the smell of the beverage, and the liquid deliciousness within.

9. iPod, iPad, or Other Mobile Device

You may not want to leave this one at the office overnight, so bring it home with you, and back again the next day. Stuff can - and does - go missing from desks all the time.

Use it on your breaks. Coffee, lunch, and otherwise. Plug in and listen to your favourite music, read a good book on the Kindle or iBooks app, or watch something fun and mindless to relax. I’d suggest buying, downloading, or uploading episodes of The Office. No matter how bad your day is going, it couldn’t possibly be worse than working for David Brent (from the original British version) or Michael Scott (the American reimagining). And it’s hilarious. Even better, take it with you outside and get some fresh air.

10. Swiss Army Knife or Multi-Tool

Because you just never know when you might need a corkscrew, blade or pliers. And let’s face it...they’re just cool. A Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool can get the job done. Almost any job (except your actual job). 

11. Tissues

Good for sneezing, blotting, wiping, drying, cleaning, and various other -ings. Keep a box or a few travel packets with you. You’ll be surprised how often you use them.

12. Hand Sanitizer

Because cleanliness is next to godliness. Or something. Germs abound in an office. Surfaces, doorknobs and handles, office equipment. And like it or not, most of your colleagues are not washing their hands as well as they should (or at all!). It adds up to germs, germs everywhere. Get in the habit of sanitizing your hands a couple of times per day. 

13. An Extra Tie or Pair of Panty Hose

Because accidents happen. Ties get slopped on (beyond what a stain remover pen can handle) and Pantyhose get torn. They don’t take up much room (many people keep an entire extra set of work clothes in the office, which is a fantastic idea...if you have the space), and can easily fit in with the rest of your emergency supplies.

Better to have and not need, than vice versa.

14. Toothbrush and Floss

What’s that expression about dental hygiene?

I floss, therefore I am.

Or maybe I’m making that up. Doesn’t matter. A quick brush after lunch or a snack is good for your teeth, good for your breath, and good for office morale (no one likes the co-worker who always smells like tuna).

Brush your teeth. Round and round. Circle small. Gums and all.

That’s the essentials. Pick up a small container at a dollar store, and keep everything together in one place. Treat it like a real survival kit, because it is. It may not be life and death, but your sanity and comfort at work are important. Restock it as necessary. Replenish and update.

It’s a jungle out there, and it’s survival of the fittest. Make sure you’re one of them.

See Also: 10 Tips to Organize Your Office Space

Did I forget anything? What else would you add to your Office Survival Kit? Leave your thoughts in the comments below...