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Office Decommissioning: What You Need to Know

A Cisco Systems Inc survey from 2020 revealed that 53 percent of large businesses planned to reduce the size of their office spaces. It also found that 75 percent of these organizations wanted more flexible work structures, contributing to the uncertain future of physical work spaces. 

As businesses continue to right-size office space and embrace some aspect of a flexible work environment, the process of decommissioning office space has become crucial. Learn the key steps, including returning the space to its original condition, in this comprehensive guide.

What Does Decommissioning an Office Mean?

Decommissioning an office is the process of removing property from a work space, generally for the purpose of moving it to another location. It includes cleaning the office and removing all traces of the company’s occupancy, such as décor, furnishings and signage. This step is generally a lease-end requirement and makes it easier and quicker for new tenants to begin utilizing the space. It also can assist in increasing the portion of the security deposit that you get back.

Office decommissioning is typically an arduous process that’s challenging for many businesses to handle on their own. As a result, they usually hire companies that specialize in the decommissioning of office space. Meyer Inc. can assist you with these needs through our comprehensive set of workplace solutions services, allowing you to easily move out, move in, and renovate the previously occupied space.

Getting Started

The first step in decommissioning an office is to remove the items you want to keep, whether your business is shutting down or just moving to a new location. These items commonly include the following:

  • Computer hardware
  • Digital information
  • Office equipment and furniture
  • Files and current documents
  • Signage

Requirements Review

The next step is to review the requirements of the decommissioning process, which will usually involve a meeting with the previous office’s property manager and a review of the lease terms. Decommissioning requirements in a lease may generally be classified into three components, including device disposition, termination of services, and review of damages.

The device disposition phase determines the devices that you need to remove from the office before permanently vacating it. This equipment typically includes computers, fax machines, photocopiers, printers and telephones.

You’ll also need to establish the services to terminate entirely or transfer to the new location, which could include phones, internet and electrical power. In some cases, the property provides these services and would therefore be responsible for terminating them until the next tenants move in.

A commercial lease typically includes clauses on property damages. The property manager will inspect the office space and discuss any specific damage that occurred during your stay there, as well as other requirements for restoring the space to its previous condition before you moved in. A simple example is the patching and painting of holes left in drywall from the placement of artwork or shelving. 

Property managers may also have additional preferences for returning the office to its previous state, even when the lease doesn’t contain specific clauses on decommissioning requirements. Though not legally required, it’s best to negotiate and accommodate these wishes, when possible.

It’s also good practice to take photos of an office space before moving in, to memorialize the current condition. If you have such photos from your former office space, you should bring them to the meeting with the office manager to identify items requiring removal or repair before moving out of the space.

Creating a Timeline

Develop a timeline for decommissioning an office space after establishing the basic requirements. Plan each step so you can complete the decommissioning process before the final lease expiration date. When possible, seek out providers that can handle multiple aspects of the project, including decommissioning, office moving, renovations and final cleaning. This simplifies the process, helps coordinate complex scheduling and minimizes potential disruptions to employees and customers. 

Equipment Liquidation

Liquidating equipment is a common part of decommissioning an office, whether you’re downsizing, moving or shutting down completely. Commercial movers with experience in liquidating used equipment can manage this process, but you should consider factors such as priorities, usable assets and basic inventory before hiring such a company.

The goals of liquidation often relate to factors like the environment and economics, raising questions about whether you’re more interested in protecting the environment, saving money or some aspect of both. You’ll also need to consider the space you have available for storing old equipment and any risks associated with it. When feasible, it may be beneficial to outsource to a commercial storage provider. 

The liquidation process requires you to identify assets that will be usable at the new location. These include furnishings like desks and chairs, as well as equipment like computers, copiers and phones. You’ll generally want to reuse as many of these assets as possible, especially when you can do so within a few months. If you need to store it for longer than that, you should analyze the financial benefits of storing the materials for future use versus selling it, recycling it instead of just throwing it away.

Perform an inventory of all equipment before liquidating any of it. This process should provide detailed information on the equipment, especially any damage that would require repair before the equipment is in a usable state. The inventory also aids in estimating the costs of transportation and disposal during decommissioning. Taking photos of these assets is good practice, as questions often arise later regarding the condition of decommissioned assets.

Final Walk-Through

A final walk-through of the old office space will typically include the property manager, who will verify that the decommissioning is complete. This process may involve identifying property damage that has been repaired and the final clean of any small items like pens, pencils, refrigerators and bathroom facilities.

Meyer Makes Changing Offices Easier

Decommissioning an office requires multiple steps to ensure the best disposition of equipment, whether you move it to the new location, store it, sell it or otherwise dispose of it. Furthermore, it typically includes contractual obligations to restore the old space to its original state, often requiring additional time and effort. Commercial movers like Meyer provide decommissioning services, allowing you to focus on getting your new location ready for business. Contact Meyer today to learn more about how we can help make your office decommissioning mission a success.