Running out of space is one of the biggest challenges a growing business can face. Preparing for the future while maintaining the successes of the past can create a lot of insecurity when it comes to obtaining and outfitting a new office. It’s also tempting to start with a completely fresh slate and bring in all new everything. It’s tempting, but it’s also an environmental and economic danger zone. With some careful planning and lots of engagement, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your office move.
- Make it a priority
- No office move happens by accident. Forward-thinking planning for sustained growth and expansion, plotting current and future employee and client needs, ensuring LEED certification and other protections for health and wellness, are all driven by carefully set priorities. Reducing the carbon footprint of a move should be one of those priorities too. Declaring it to be important helps to define the research and search parameters and governs the behaviours of everyone involved from day one.
- Engage everyone
- Architects and designers aren’t the only partners who need to be apprised of the plans for an environmentally-friendly move. Employees, partners, real estate agents, clients and any other stakeholder needs to know the end goal.
- Early engagement helps to identify the features of how you do business that everyone values. A structure for soliciting ideas, feedback and action items for stakeholder participation is key. Committees to work on the search for space, sourcing and procurement, as well as the nitty-gritty details of what to take, what to donate and what to recycle have to be accountable to each other. Engagement creates community and the quality of communication in strong communities prevents duplication and waste.
- Conduct an inventory
- What do people have, how much longer will it last and what does it need to last longer? Desks and workstations that are ergonomically calibrated are highly valued by the people who use them. Conducting an inventory that includes the intrinsic value people associate with their office objects encourages care and reduces wear and tear. You may find that you have more and need less than previously believed. In the case of particular favourites, re-covering a chair or refinishing shelving can save useful objects from the landfill.
- Conduct lifespan analyses
- Before committing to a purchase, do a lifespan analysis of the entire product. This includes examining the conditions and standards that were met when it was produced, to how it can be maintained, to what steps will be required when it – or some of its elements – need to be disposed of. Products that cannot be repaired or upgraded, have shorter lifespans and leave a higher carbon footprint than those that can be fixed with replacement parts.
- Take what you have, but give too
- When you have set your priorities, engaged your stakeholders and identified what to take with you, there are still going to be bits and pieces that won’t be appropriate for the new space or useful once there. Early in the process, identify charitable organizations that can use your fixtures, furniture and coverings. Organizations that train people in skilled trades, volunteer-driven NGOs who build houses and other structures in the developed and developing world all have to plan their donation schedules to coincide with project work.
The planning, priority-setting and engagement we’ve described will all help move the best of the old office into the new in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.