Secondhand furniture

Go green and save money with recycled office kit

Refurbished furniture looks as good as new

There have been a few false dawns on the road to the great return to the office but as we see life get back to some sort of normality, returning to our workplace desk in some capacity has been a much more realistic prospect.

The question that employers are currently tussling with is whether it is a desk their staff will want – or a whole new way of working post-pandemic.

More than most thought possible, enforced homeworking has been a success story for the majority of businesses and many employees are not in a hurry to give that up.

A recent survey by the British Contract Furnishing Association found most staff welcomed the idea of having the option between home and office-based work, with 84% saying that they would want to meet with their direct team in person on a regular basis. In fact, 90% of employees welcome flexible working arrangements – a reality which was largely ignored pre-pandemic.

Importantly, employers are also seeing the benefit – a mix of home and office working means smaller offices can be used with the associated cost savings that brings to their bottom line.

Yet in many cases, where the same office space is still to be used, employers are now investigating reconfiguration – fewer desks and more informal spaces for collaboration.

Ross Dutton: workplace transformations present the perfect opportunity to embrace the circular economy

Some of the UK’s major employers are currently discussing, at board level, how to make changes that will ensure their office spaces are an attractive place to return to. The old-style office, with row after row of desks and screens, is giving way to the workplace of the future where space is reserved for breakout areas, sofas and catch-up pods.

What does this mean for existing office kit? Is it straight to landfill with the furniture that is no longer needed?

In our experience, businesses are now savvy enough to know that taking furniture to the tip is not the option they should be pursuing. Businesses know that sustainability is not just something they should be talking about – it’s something their customers and staff want to see them doing.

With COP26 just around the corner, companies are actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint rather than simply being concerned about the pounds, shillings and pence that office kit will cost. Furniture going to landfill when it could be reused is a source of carbon emissions, with a new office chair taking 72KgCO2 to manufacture to replace a previously used one.

The workplace transformations that are currently being discussed present the perfect opportunity to embrace the circular economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, the maximum value is extracted from them whilst in use and then products and materials are recovered and regenerated at the end of each product’s viable life cycle.

For us at, we’re being engaged by companies large and small across the UK who want to reconfigure their offices at a reasonable cost but in keeping with the green agenda. Chairs, desks, sofas – all types of furniture can be collected, restored and refurbished, before being made available for sale at a fraction of the cost of new equipment.

We work with businesses wanting their offices cleared and some who want a reduction in certain items to make way for an alternative.

Some may be sceptical at using second-hand furniture and question whether their employees will approve. However, the process by which kit is refurbished delivers a product that looks as good as new but with a fraction of the planet’s resources used to create it.

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To date, we’ve sold 45,000 secondhand office chairs, saving emissions equivalent to 2,400 flights between London and Sydney. Buying just one refurbished chair has the same effect as removing a 300-mile journey in a standard family car from our roads.

This reuse and re-love market is well established on the continent, but less so within the UK. Some of our biggest export markets are Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where this demand for restored office furniture has been thriving for decades.

Now, with the return to the workplace hopefully imminent, UK companies are looking to specialist refurbishment companies to transform their offices but doing so in tune with the need to be green. A busy period lies ahead and it is one that will be positive, not just for businesses and employees, but also for our environment.

Ross Dutton is managing director at

This article appears under the terms of the DB Direct service

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