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If I get a new desk, what will happen to the old one?

As we plan to return to the workplace, it’s possible furniture procurement isn’t high on the immediate agenda. But as flexible and hybrid working strategies take hold and organisations look to their office portfolio, downsizing may be an inevitable by-product of lockdown.

If that’s the case, is your current furniture fit for the future workplace? What will be the priority if it isn’t? Buying new or repurposing what you have?

Recycle is better than nothing at all, but let’s look at how an existing desk can be reused.

Though they’re very much out of fashion now, old L-shaped monster desks designed to support jumbotron monitors still exist in some workplaces. Your personal computing solution is now more likely to be a laptop, docking station and one or two monitors on desk-mounted arms.

What size of desk do you really need if your organisation is moving paper-lite or you’re increasingly going to be working from home? For most jobs, 1400×800 is more than enough desk real estate within the workplace. And, if it’s really just a touch-down spot or a hot desk for a few hours, even 1200×700 might be sufficient.

There will be occasions when an old desk has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be disposed of. That doesn’t mean a trip to the landfill straight away. It can be broken down into its constituent elements and what can be recycled is then processed accordingly. There will always be some fraction of the original desk (or chair for that matter) that can’t be viably recycled, but even then, more and more ingenious uses are being dreamed up for most materials.

If the desk is in reasonably good condition but is just ‘unfashionable’ or too big for the returning to workspace plan, what then? It’s possible to reuse or adapt an existing desk frame and transform it into something sleeker and of a more appropriate size. Desktops can be changed to a clean, crisp white finish, or with a nod to biophilia, can be in different wood finishes. Desk legs can be repositioned and powder-coated in different colours also. We’re not talking the new desk containing no trace of the original piece of furniture. There’s a definite connection between the old and the new. In fact, the ‘new’ can be ‘better than new’ quality.

With reused office furniture, there’s often a perception that because it’s second-hand it’s cheap quality. But that’s just not the case. We work with businesses to assess existing furniture and give you an honest appraisal of what the best option is (in terms of cost, corporate social responsibility and timescale).

There’s worth in old office furniture. It may be the opportunity to get that piece of perfectly usable workplace furniture that would be unaffordable direct out of the wrapping, but which might just transform a working environment. Plus, it’s a way to participate in the circular economy.

So, before you get out the furniture catalogue, have a think of what the alternatives are and ask yourself, ‘If I get a new desk, what will happen to the old one?’