The sustainable way to get rid of surplus FF&E

Every office relocation, renovation and closure generate no-longer-needed furniture, fixtures and equipment — the extra chairs, desks, cabinets, supplies, and electronics sitting in your storage space right now. So, what do you do with it?
As experienced design, facilities, construction, and procurement professionals know well, redistributing office furniture and equipment isn’t as simple as it sounds, especially when you consider the financial and environmental risks of a mismanaged job.
When it comes to office surplus, the reality is that there aren’t many simple, sustainable options.
To help your company get more from its office surplus, we’ve outlined seven essential steps to managing a large office move, renovation, or closure. With the right plan and project manager, surplus office furniture can start to look less like a problem and more like an opportunity.
Step 1: Create an office furniture inventory
No matter which solution you choose, your vendors will want to know what the project entails. Clear information will also save you headaches by minimizing scope changes and miscommunication down the road.
Step 2: Understand the project goals (and opportunities)
Once you understand what you’re working with, what do you and your team want from the project?
The most common answer is, of course, a financial return. We all want to get cash back from old assets – which is certainly possible with the right inventory and buyers.
The next priority is operational — put another way, a pain-free removal. Furniture removal is always one step in a larger project; if it’s delayed or disrupted, so are the other components.
Increasingly, the project’s social and environmental impact are top of mind. Does your organization have a zero-waste commitment? Are you signed on to the SDGs? Does your company produce an ESG report? If so, you’ll want to prioritize landfill diversion via resale, donation, and recycling. And you’ll definitely want thorough reporting.
Step 3: Prepare for the risks of managing a large surplus
Budget isn’t the only thing on the line when managing a large office surplus. Internal time and effort, vendor relations, and on-site safety—all of which impact the overall project outcome—require equal attention in a large move.
Step 4: Plan your budget
Start by estimating the biggest cost: the dismantling, removal and logistics. Then, depending on where you're moving the furniture to, calculate the cost of landfill and recycling, or, if you’re working with a resale vendor, subtract the value of the bid.
Step 5: Engage a reliable logistics provider
The best way to avoid a questionable mover is to seek recommendations and look for industry certifications. Ask for testimonials and references or try a pilot project with less at risk.
Step 6: Manage the dismantling and relocation of the inventory
Most project leads will want to oversee as much of the process as possible to keep everyone on schedule. This includes employees tasked with clearing their spaces, technicians removing electrical or specialized equipment, and movers knocking down and loading the inventory, as well as those coordinating furniture pick up or receiving the items after delivery.
Step 7: Document and report everything
Project documentation is the single most valuable deliverable. It gauges the team’s performance, demonstrates transparency and accountability, and shows where everything went at the end of the project. This is critical to ESG and sustainability reporting.
If you’re planning a major decommissioning project and want to learn more about sustainability and best practices, reach out to Green Standards.

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