What are the names in English of the typical office surroundings, equipment, and supplies? What are the common terms around the office when discussing these items or used when ordering more supplies? These questions and more are answered in this business English lesson about the office and its surroundings.

Office Equipment and Surroundings

Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:

Workstation – a location where the individual works, may be shared by a number of users

Photocopier – used to copy documents, often a hangout place where office gossip can be exchanged

Water cooler – provides cool drinking water, and again, it is often the place where people get together for casual conversation

Boardroom – the specially designated place where meetings of the governing board take place. Often very comfortable, even luxurious.

Conference room – used for company meetings, conferences, and often training.

Desk – Purpose built pieces of furniture usually with drawers, designed for office work.

Cubicle – A workstation in an open plan office, with little or no privacy, generally for low-status office workers

Network – The system which connects computers together within an organization

Shredder – Machine to shred confidential documents so that they can’t be read

Photocopier – copying machine, usually located in a central area, often near the shredder

Executive chair – A particularly comfortable or well-designed chair, generally indicating a higher status employee

Filing cabinet – A specialized piece of furniture with deep drawers, for housing paper files.

Reception – The area where visitors are met and where they wait to be attended to.

Workspace – A generic term which describes a worker’s personal office environment.

White collar worker – generally a description of an office worker.

Corner office – Corner offices, having windows facing more than one direction, are prized and usually given to higher status employees

Office Equipment and Surroundings Live Example

Live Example:

A good office environment should be light and airy, workstations should be kept tidy and clean, ideally, desks should be cleared every evening before people go home, and filing cabinets should be locked. Reception areas should be attractive and be inviting, with comfortable seating and up to date magazines for visitors to read while they are waiting to be attended to. The photocopier and shredder should be conveniently located for all users – near the water cooler is often a good choice of location. Key locations such as the boardroom and conference room should be kept in a good state of readiness so that they can be used at short notice.

Office Equipment and Surroundings Live Conversation Example

Live Conversation Example:

Bob: I’ve just been offered the corner office!

Mary: Oh, I heard some of the guys gossiping about that by the water cooler. That shows that you are going places! That office has such a beautiful oak desk and filing cabinets, and the most comfortable executive chair in the company!

Bob: I really enjoy having a good workspace. I think our cubicles could do with some improvement, they are pretty shabby.

Mary: Well, I have been asked to set up the boardroom for a meeting, maybe you could suggest it, now that you are such a big shot!

Bob: It’s just a new office, Mary, I’m still going to be hanging out by the photocopier and the shredder!

Office Equipment and Surroundings Practice


Keeping your personal workspace tidy and efficient shows that you have an organized mind. It also makes it easier to work.

What can you do to improve your working space?

How can you improve the working environment for others?

Is your company’s reception area attractive and inviting for visitors?

Do you have good security measure in your office, for example, how do you dispose of important documents?

Is your office environment well lit, well ventilated, attractive and conducive to efficient working?

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