Get rid of used furniture

Modern Office InteriorEvery office relocation, renovation and closure generates no-longer-needed furniture and equipment — the extra chairs, desks, cabinets, supplies and electronics sitting in your storage space right now. So what do you do with it?

What are your options and which ones suit your budget, timeline and company?

As experienced facilities and procurement professionals know well, redistributing office furniture and equipment isn’t always as simple as it sounds, especially when you consider the financial and environmental risks of a mismanaged job. With its own unique set of challenges and distractions, what is often a minor step in a larger workplace transition can quickly become a major setback.

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 six essential steps to managing a large inventory. Each step will help you identify problems before they happen, minimize financial and environmental liabilities, and boost your chances of getting a measurable return for your business.

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

A thorough inventory is a must. 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. If you don’t have one already, it’s time to see exactly what you have and inform the entire project.

Basic Inventory Process

  1. Standardize an office inventory document – a spreadsheet is a good start.
  2. Appoint a single person and time slot to fill out the form.
  3. Note the item types, brand names, age, condition, dimensions and location.
  4. Compare your inventory to other documents from procurement or facilities.

A proper inventory will also help you understand the item-by-item value of your surplus. This is critical. Coming up with a comprehensive disposition is impossible without it.

For instance, Aeron office chairs tend to retain their market value. How many do you have and in what condition? A miscount here could mean dollars lost. Similarly, filing cabinets can generate returns from their metal content. Knowing how many you have and of what size will ensure your local metal recycler gives you what you’re owed.

Your inventory should also help identify which items are actually garbage. These are the broken chairs, desks or components that cannot be reused, refurbished or recycled. Although this is a very small percentage of the average office inventory, it’s important to identify them so they can be properly separated from reusable items before vendors factor them in.

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 most telling way to measure the success of any business initiative is by money saved or money gained, and rightfully so. Return on investment (ROI) is a key indicator across all business processes, including asset management.

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. The key here is knowing the project scope inside out and working with reliable logistics provider. Whether it’s poor scheduling, a rogue vendor or on-site safety issues, no one wants to be the lead on a project gone wrong. Properly managing the operations equals properly managing the costs.

But what else matters to your organization?

Few project managers take the time to consider how the project can benefit other departments, initiatives and stakeholders. If paying to remove office furniture could also complement other projects, each dollar spent on the project returns more to the company.

For instance, your company might be very active in the local community — do your counterparts in sustainability or communications know the company has a large surplus to get rid of? Donating surplus furniture can be done tactically to engage community partners without directing additional capital towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Positive stories can roll off the tail end of the project to the delight of your colleagues in marketing, communications or public relations and to the benefit of your company’s reputation.

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