Tracy Wilson, Managing Partner at our sister company Pacific Workplaces, shares her experience on a simple and cost-effective way coworking space operators can freshen up the furniture in their space while achieving sustainability.
As we close out the month of April, the month that we often spend a bit more time considering Mother Earth and what steps those of us can do to improve sustainability practices in our shared workspaces, I want to share an experience I had at one of my locations in Sacramento, California.
One area of the flexible office business that causes me angst is the disposability of office products, especially inexpensive furniture items. As much as anyone, I struggle with the value of purchasing a $400 chair vs an $800 chair. I wonder if, over time, the durability, quality, and style mean the pricier version is actually a better value. Will it withstand the use and “abuse” my members will certainly impose on it, so I am not forced to get rid of it in 3 years? At the forefront of my thought process is that, when I do dispose of furniture, even donation centers don’t want extremely worn or broken furniture, which means the only alternative is sending it to the dump which puts more burden on our landfills.
Recently, the chairs in our Pacific Workplaces Sacramento boardroom were starting to look worn, so I realized I needed to start thinking about a solution, but the economics of purchasing twelve new boardroom chairs was overwhelming. Basically, I was stalling. Then, nearly overnight, these chairs went from getting worn to a down-right embarrassing situation (shame on me!), so replacement was mandatory … or, was it? Could I really send these twelve chairs to the local dump? We decided to see what hiring a re-upholsterer might entail, and I am proud to share the results. Twelve new boardroom chairs would have likely cost nearly $12,000, but re-upholstering the old ones only cost $1,500.
Based on the success of this project, we decided to use the same technique on four of our reception area chairs. While they still had a nice style and were holding up well, we always seemed to get negative comments from our member’s clients. The chairs were so uncomfortable to sit on and you couldn’t lean back without the experience being physically awkward. In addition, they didn’t exactly pop with color or energy. So, in came our re-upholsterer. Four new high-end reception area chairs could have cost as much as $6,000, but our re-upholstering guru gave us “brand new” (comfortable!) chairs for only $1,200.
I hope this will inspire my coworking industry friends to re-think the use, and mostly RE-use, of our shared workspace amenities. Cheers to Mother Earth AND our bottom line!
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