The permanent work pack (PWP)


The nature of my work is that I am on the move a lot and that all my contracts are in a standard office environment. Last year alone I worked at three different places so I was never around long enough to fully pack a cubicle with knick-knacks. That doesn’t mean I don’t personalize my spaces, it just means I have to remember that my time at any place is temporary and what I carry in, I have to carry out. That being said, there are a few accessories that are required for work so I keep what I call a Permanent Work Pack (PWP) in storage to take with me from contract to contract.

What is in the PWP? The PWP contains the basic of things you would need to get through a typical 8-hour day at work. It has to be packed well enough to be ONE bag that you could carry in and carry out on any day. My guess is that the majority of things in my PWP are things people across the board would bring with them to work, such as cutlery. Other things would be more person-dependant, such as a coffee maker. If you don’t drink coffee, or if your office already has a coffeemaker, you would definitely not bring one with you. It’s been my experience that every office environment has different amenities so you would have to assess the first day or two before removing or adding stuff to your PWP.

For example, in one of my previous jobs there was no coffeemaker on-site, so I made sure to bring my wee one-cup coffeemaker. In my current position there are coffeemakers everywhere! There is a Keurig, a 12-cup coffeemaker, and an individual Keurig. So there is obviously no need to bring my one-cup coffeemaker with me to work. I took it out of my PWP and left it in storage. When I finish this contract I will pop it back in, but for now it can just stay at home.

My PWP is actually a backpack that my husband got at a conference but any large-ish backpack will do. I tend to carry quite a few things in my PWP but if you are more of a minimalist, you may find yourself carrying less. The key though is to have one bag whose sole purpose is to store and transport your work stuff. As to what to keep in it, here is a snapshot of the things I have in my PWP:


– A selection of tea
– An emergency lunch of a can of soup & pack of crackers
– An emergency breakfast of oatmeal with fruit & nuts
– Condiments (packs of soy sauce, salt & pepper, mustard and ketchup)

Utensils and tools

– A tea ball
– Cutlery: knife/fork/teaspoon/soup spoon/chop sticks
– Small plate
– Soup bowl
– Mug
– Water bottle
– Small one-cup coffeemaker
– Cloth napkin (I take this home and replace it when it’s dirty)
– Wet wipes to clean my desk

Medicine & wellness

– Multivitamins
– Allergy medication
– Painkillers
– Cold & flu medication
– Antacids

Personal care

– Box of tissue
– Chewing gum
– Hand cream
– Hand sanitizer
– Lip balm
– Hair ties/clips


– One pair of black shoes
– One pair of brown shoes
– Sweater
– Extra socks

I also have a few pictures of family & drawings my kids did tucked in there as well.

It seems like a lot but most of the stuff is small and packs pretty tightly. When I run out, I just make a note to bring some more stuff from home or add it to a shopping list. If I keep on top of replenishing it and making sure it’s all together when I store it, the next time I take it out for work, it is good to go. Of course, everyone’s PWP will be different and contain different things. Mine is suitable for office work where you have your own office space. If you work in a different environment you would have a completely different PWP. I’d love to hear some new ideas or additions!