Lurking inside every office is a collection of devices, equipment, and furniture that are outdated, unused and maybe even a little bit scary. Boxes of branded envelopes, fax machines, old printers, broken chairs, credit card scanners, wired mice and keyboards, DVD players, and even tube-televisions. Nobody really knows where it all came from and so no one wants to take responsibility of getting rid of it.
It doesn’t need to be spring to hold a good office cleanout. There is some stuff that you need to throw away immediately! We’ll go through some of the challenges every office manager faces when getting rid of old office equipment and how you can overcome them.
Here is what you absolutely need to get rid of right now:
– Broken or unused furniture. You’re never going to fix it. Never. Nobody likes that uncomfortable chair. That table doesn’t fit your décor. Ditch them.
– Outdated electronics. Okay, maybe one day you’ll really need to play a VHS cassette, but is it worth hanging on to your old video player just in case?
– Old branded stationery. You’ve changed your branding. Why is your old stationery still gathering dust and taking up space in your storeroom?
– Accessories for the equipment you no longer have. Every storeroom has at least a few cartridges for printers that disappeared from the office years ago. You don’t need them.
It’s obvious that these things need to go, so why haven’t you thrown them away yet?
We paid for it, we should keep it
Everything bought for an office feels like an asset. In fact, a lot of your electronic equipment is probably in an asset register. At some point, the company invested in those items and it seems wasteful to throw them away.
Do you know what else is an asset? Storage space!
Seriously, though, it is completely standard procedure to write off an asset once it has reached the end of its useful life. Most small electronics will have been completely depreciated after a few years. Make sure you confirm with your bookkeeper or accountant about how to formally remove the asset from your books before you go ahead and trash it.
What if someone needs it?
This is the most common push-back office managers will get from staff (or it might be an excuse they use themselves!) Of course, you can’t just Marie Kondo your office. That bubble jet printer may not bring you joy, but it could be a handy backup one day when the laserjet is down!
Don’t fool yourself. On the off chance you might need that device one day, there are other options. If your bank is still in the stone age, you can send free fax using online tools like FaxBurner. Even if you went to use your emergency backup bubble-jet, can any of your computers actually connect to it? And those enormous monitors that are taking up an entire shelf use a cable that is incompatible with all of your equipment without an adapter.
Waste & recycling
Dealing with waste is a genuine concern for all office managers and it can be a real stumbling block when trying to get rid of old equipment. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to dispose of your unneeded stuff without contributing to landfill.
Your first option should be to see if any of your staff want or need the items or if they know of schools or charities which can take them. You can do this in conjunction with a clear-out afternoon where staff help to identify and sort through your junk.
Once you’ve whittled your pile down, it’s time to look at recycling reusing and reselling.
E-Waste – Most cities will have an e-waste program that allows you to dispose of your electronic equipment safely. Even old electronics contain useful components that can be reused. E-waste recycling centers accept computers, faxes, monitors, small electronics, batteries, and much more. These programs will have advice about how you can erase sensitive data from your computers, tablets, and phones before disposing of them.
Printers – Major printer manufacturers have schemes so that you can return old and unwanted printers for free. They may even exchange your old equipment for a free device or accessories. Check your manufacturer’s website for details. If not, printers can also go to E-waste recycling centers.
Stationery – Old branded stationery is one of those things that’s difficult to get rid of. For one, you paid for it and feel like you should hang on to it. Some people also worry that nefarious persons could use the stationery to send letters for their own purposes. The use of letterheads to commit fraud is astronomically small. Criminals or fraudsters are more likely to use your email or website rather than old stationery. You could shred all your stationery before sending it to be recycled. But a better option is to donate it to a childcare center or primary school which can use it for craft activities.
Furniture – Surprisingly, unwanted furniture is often the hardest thing to dispose of. Broken furniture can rarely be reused and often just goes straight to landfill. If you have any furniture that’s still in good condition, look at local charities that accept donations. Facebook groups are another way you can donate or give away unwanted items. For high-quality furniture, try selling on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Gumtree. Remember – you won’t get full price for your second-hand items! Sometimes it’s better to let it go for a lower price than try to hang around for a higher one!
No matter what time of year it is, you can make a difference to your office right now by having a bit of a spring clean. And once you’ve reclaimed some valuable storage space, you can look at buying new stuff…