Twenty-three filing cabinets, 4 printers, 117 binders, 3 label makers, copious amounts of index cards, reams of letterhead and one lonely typewriter later, we said goodbye to the past and completed our move to MeetGreen’s new headquarters. With an increase in employees working virtually, we decided it was time to change to a more efficient, sustainable space for our Portland staff.
When I joined the corporate world 30 years ago, the signs of a successful executive were a big desk, bookshelves (with matching books) and a secretary to take dictation, moving papers through the system in triplicate. There were file clerks who did nothing else all day but keep the documents organized and available on a moment’s notice. When we opened for business in 1994, systems weren’t a lot different and, although we had computers, we were still printing out paper copies for “back up” onsite at events. Banquet Event Orders could be measure in inches, contracts were faxed and the rolodex was vital.
When we started “purging” for the move, we quickly recognized how technology had impacted our world. Today our files are stored in the cloud without paper and are easily accessible by other team members. No filing cabinet required. Likewise the binders, or bibles as we used to call them, are no longer needed for production onsite as we have electronic tablets which pull logistical details from the same cloud.
It became a real test of our core values to find homes for the obsolete binders, filing cabinets, huge desks and printers and wasn’t as easy we had anticipated. Calls to the usual donation streams were answered with an overwhelming, ”Please no more office furniture and equipment.” At one point it was tempting to give up and have it all hauled to the landfill, but we didn’t…we just couldn’t. It took our whole team and their creative ideas to find a reuse for each and every paperclip, index card, and conference giveaway. We found local schools, theatres, artists and an independent book publisher who had the vision to repurpose every last item.
The world has changed and we changed with it. The steps had been so incremental that I hadn’t fully realized the significant amount of resources no longer necessary to run an office. Today we want fast internet, software to easily manage the information sharing and the ability to have our desks anywhere in the world. It feels good to “travel lighter.” Thanks to technology, our organization is more resilient, agile and sustainable.