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Relocating and the Art of the Office Cleanup

Moving offices soon? Decluttering your current workspace will make organizing your next one simple.

June 21, 2019 | by Jo Cipolla

When moving offices, many companies are so focused on packing up boxes and picking new furniture that they miss out on a fantastic opportunity: a massive, all-hands-on-deck office cleanup. First, it’ll make the relocation that much easier—and likely cheaper; you will have less to move to the new location and any professional office cleaning services you hire will have less to contend with.

Second, a clean office is good for staff morale, especially in the lead up to a business move. “The physical environment of the workplace has a significant effect on the way that we work,” writes organizational behavior professor Libby Sander. “When our space is a mess, so are we.” Sander’s research demonstrated that physical environments significantly impact our decision-making and relationships. Which is why she, too, recommends a regular office spring cleaning. “We find our clients who clear through their office mess as part of their relocation plan are even happier in their new space,” says  Phil Sofia, VP of sales at SquareFoot. “It even helps employees make a smoother transition.”

Sold? Great! Here’s how to plan your company’s cleanup effort.

Lay the groundwork

  • Get everyone on board: Announce your “Grand Office Cleanup Day” (or whatever you choose to call it) at least a week in advance via multiple communications—Slack, email, even a few flyers in communal spaces.

  • Get supplies: You’ll need extra trash bags, cleaning supplies, and several large bins for recycling, shredding and getting rid of any equipment you might want to donate.

  • Get informed:

    • Explore options for the disposal of sensitive documents, such as renting an industrial shredder or hiring an outside shredding service.

    • Find out about donating used equipment and office furniture to a local Goodwill.

    • Check out Freecycle, an online platform used to offer items you no longer want to people who might.

Start on the right foot

  • Each employee should tackle their own desk first, then split shared spaces like closets and meeting rooms.

  • Tell team members to be ruthless in eliminating clutter—this will ultimately make your office move less expensive.

  • Remember to encourage a digital purge as well—delete unused computer icons and organize documents by subject. These are important tasks that cleaning services can’t provide.

Make it fun

  • Cleaning up doesn’t have to be drudge-work, especially if you do it Mary Poppins style. Some experts suggest incorporating a scavenger hunt, with prizes (Starbucks gift cards, etc.) hidden in spots that are the least fun to clean.

  • Create awards, e.g., Neatest Desk or Most Clutter Thrown Out.

  • Keep the music and snacks coming.

Wrap it up

  • Ask your building manager how best to dispose of piles of trash and recycling. A freight elevator might be made available to you.

  • Applaud your team for a job well done with an office-wide celebration. Cleaning up is hard work, and employees always appreciate recognition.

Kickoff a new, neater era

  • An office relocation should mean new habits. Organization spreads from the top down, so make sure leaders model neater spaces.

  • Again, research shows that a clear desk means a clear mind, which is a good reason to give employees a way to properly store things on their desk. Think: organizational tools such as drawer dividers separate writing implements, sticky notes and rubber bands.

  • Provide a floor plan with clearly marked common areas for supplies and store less frequently used supplies in a closet.

Of course, you can feel free to tailor your company’s path to a neater office to your organization’s needs and culture. Just remember that there’s a reason why organizing gurus like Marie Kondo are so popular these days. Decluttering has been linked to lower levels of stress hormones and anxiety.

What office wouldn’t benefit from that?

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