Case study

Sustainable Workplace Services

Embedding circularity across organisations

Sustainable Workplace Services - the opportunity to change

Only a decade ago, office furniture was treated as a short-term disposable item, changed as readily as the colour on the office walls.  When moving and changing their clients’ workplace, Crown Workspace were being asked to get rid of large quantities, of everything from desks and chairs to pedestals and cabinets.  In 2011, research in the UK found that only 14% of office furniture was being reused with an estimated 1.8million office chairs and 1.2million office desks being sent to landfill each year.

Recognising they needed to transform from a traditional commercial relocation company to a sustainable workplace service provider, they carried out extensive client, desk and staff research, and used their corporate memberships, to provide insight into what clients needed. They employed expert consultants to guide their journey and collaborated with industry bodies. They understood that they needed to develop easy-to-engage with services for each element of the waste hierarchy – with the aim of maximising the lifecycle of office assets and delivering social, environmental and financial benefits whilst still meeting their clients’ budgets and timescales.

Changing attitudes and behaviours

At the outset, Crown Workspace faced real challenges changing attitudes and purchasing behaviour.  They really needed to support both employees and clients to make better decisions.  They focused messaging on the business benefits of reuse – for example remanufactured desks cost typically 30% or less than the cost of new desks – as well as the environmental gains.  They worked to overcome barriers to reuse, for example providing warranties equivalent to new products and providing trial pieces, to not only give purchasers confidence but demonstrate to their employees that reused furniture could be as good as new.

They used case studies, advertising, site visits and speaking opportunities to evidence the wide-ranging benefits of their services.  Their approach has paid off, they are now a successful circular service provider, with demand for their services increasing as more businesses commit to a target of net-zero.

Making a difference

Since 2015, they have remanufactured over 78,700 items of furniture and reconditioned over 55,000 items of IT equipment, saving just under 10,000 tonnes of CO2(e).  They have donated over 16,000 items of furniture, saving a further 1,000 tonnes of CO2(e).

Crown Workspace provide their clients with a full and comprehensive client savings report outlining the project savings from reuse, resale and rebates, their donations and the charities they have supported, and the carbon savings achieved by using their services.

Their fully documented process, and robust measurement of the savings achieved, gives businesses the evidence needed to demonstrate achievement of sustainability goals.  Whether that’s simply reducing environmental impacts, delivering financial and social benefits, or more specifically, moving toward a circular office or reducing scope 3 emissions.  Moving waste up the hierarchy has also enabled them to create more job opportunities and upskill their workforce.

Leading and learning

Crown Workspace have led the way, blazing a trail that others have followed.  At times, this has been challenging but the rewards are abundant, taking their clients on a journey to more sustainable workplaces.

They have accepted that they have got, and will continue to get, things wrong.  They have invested in what’s turned out to be unsuitable equipment, focused communications on the wrong messages, relied on staff training when at times this was no replacement for buying in expertise and experience.  They understand that these mistakes have been progress towards getting things right.

They know that to maintain their market leading position, they need to continue to innovate and evolve their sustainable workplace services, and they work with clients and other stakeholders to do this.  They are continually looking at how to keep materials in use for longer and in 2021 began producing a range of furniture from hard-to-recycle materials including offcuts and the desktops they replace.  They are also in the process of developing their interior services, with a focus on waste prevention and reuse in office refurbishment, and the introduction of more sustainably sourced materials.

Crown Workspace are truly excited by the many opportunities to develop their circular workplace services further and continue their transformation journey.

To find out more or to visit the Renew Centre please contact Crown Workspace’s Head of Sustainable Development, Ann Beavis – abeavis@crownww.com

This case study was prepared by Crown Workspace.