Company downsizing is making ‘office decommissioning’ a big business in DC

More companies continue to downsize their office space, or move out altogether for smaller or less expansive space, but it isn’t as easy as just turning out the lights.

Assuming a company comes to terms with its landlord or successfully subleases the space, there is still the issue of emptying out that office and finding a way to get rid of all that furniture, computer equipment and office supplies.

It is called “office decommissioning,” and it’s becoming a big business for companies that can facilitate it. It has become an especially in-demand service in the D.C. region in the past couple of years.

“The D.C. area is one of the highest areas of the country. We have never seen a higher demand for decommissioning than we are seeing today for a number of reasons, including transition to remote work strategies and interest rates that are making leases a challenge,” said David Cox, president at Sterling, Virginia-based JK Moving Services, which is now focusing more of its commercial services efforts on decommissioning offices and buildings in response to needs.

JK Moving operates nationwide, not just in the D.C. region, and Cox cites a U.S. office vacancy rate that has reached 17.1%, an average 1.8% higher than a year ago, as the reason for growing decommissioning needs. According to Commercial Edge, more than half of U.S. office markets have an office building vacancy at that is above the national average.

D.C.’s office vacancy rate climbed to a record high 18.9% in June, with the highest concentration in older buildings.

Office decommissioning includes disassembly and removal of cubicles and other office furniture and equipment, cable abatement, space restoration and cleanup and disposal of computer equipment and other IT assets, basically erasing all traces of a company’s previous use of the space.

All of which has to go someplace.

“In some cases, it may go to storage. In some cases, it may be recycled or discarded,” Cox said.

JK Moving also offers services that can mean disposal of furniture, office supplies and other equipment a company no longer has a need for aren’t a total loss.

“There are a number of partners that we work with in the used office furniture and used office supply space, and many times the strategy that or customers take is to engage some of those providers to get some value out of those items,” Cox said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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