CEO Insider

A New Way To Calculate ROI

There was once a day when we were happy to have a place to sit at the office.  Now, the expectation is for office space and furniture to do much more. They must enable growth, reduce costs, increase productivity, attract people, promote collaboration, spark creativity, support health and allow for flexibility.  That’s a big ask. How does furniture go from a depreciating asset to a positive force that helps businesses achieve that kind of transformation?

There are businesses who expect to remain status quo over the next couple of years, with little change expected in the office environment.  Yet, increasingly as the workplace is evolving, more and more businesses are investigating new ways to provision the workplace and free up resources they can use elsewhere such as attracting new talent and developing market opportunity.

When it comes to deciding how to procure and account for assets at your business, you weigh the benefit, risk and burden of each option.  Ownership is a commitment and with that comes an investment in long-term costs. Rental or Leasing is somewhat common but not across all products and services… yet.  It is common to lease space, subscribe to software, hire temporary contractors and rent equipment. Applying the same thought process to furnishings makes sense if you want to leverage furniture to gain capabilities, increase flexibility and free up capital.  It’s Furniture as a Service or FaaS.

Strategically Leverage FaaS 

When working with furniture as a service companies like CORT, the furniture supports your business needs, even as they change and change again.  Change is good if it brings opportunity. Opportunity is good if you are able to leverage it.  The best way to leverage opportunity is if your people and the work they do is supported in a dynamic “on demand” way so they can keep moving forward.

“For small to mid-size businesses and startups, flexibility is crucial in all aspects of operations,” said Mike Zei, founder and COO of TenantBase, a CORT customer. “We’re seeing this increasingly when dealing with commercial space, and furniture is often a major financial consideration for a new office.”

Whether preparing for a large project that comes up and requires more personnel, or a department is relinquished, access to furniture gives you true flexibility to expand, contract, swap, change floor plans and opt-out as your needs change.

“I recently worked with the team at CORT to outfit several of our new offices as we are growing into new markets,” said Zei. “We needed furniture fast and this allowed us to create collaborative, modern spaces to attract and retain the kind of top talent we rely on as a business to succeed. The process allowed me to view this furniture as a service instead of a large upfront cost and a hassle as it has been in the past.”

Go Further with Flex  

You can buy a building, lease space, get it furnished or unfurnished, hire a team to manage it all for you, go co-work or Do-It-Yourself to save costs.  When sourcing space, data and furnishings, there are many choices. What you ultimately choose for your business is the best combination of factors – cost, ease, positive return for the business, employee satisfaction and client attraction.  Still, regardless of what you choose, you will still need the ability to flex, pivot, contract, expand and quite simply at some point undo some or all of your carefully laid plans in order to accommodate something new.

A very well-known tech giant moves 1,200 furniture items in a weekend due to staff transitions on a single campus.  A contractor manages the process for them and excess furniture is stored in 40 rows of racking located within a 65,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.  They are built to flex and it is a sure way for them to get their people and work teams up and running quickly. Not all businesses have the luxury of an on-site storage facility or office maintenance staff to quickly deliver what’s needed or to relocate unused, unwanted furniture.  With FaaS, a business has access to the very same style of provisioning people quickly. Furniture can come and go as needs fluctuate.

Professionals in the commercial real estate industry know better than anyone about increased demand for shorter lease terms, more amenities and “here today, gone tomorrow” furnishings.  What started as a coworking topic, quickly became one of Flex Space and all it entails. Flex Space, by term, once meant overflow, maybe industrial in nature. Now, it covers any need enterprise may have that is less than three years and temporary or project-based.   Products and Services are aligning with what the client wants – space and furnishings when, where and for how long the client wants it.

“Not only do I see furniture rental as a trend in our own operations over 10 markets, but with our clients as well,” says Zei. “We specialize in securing commercial space for startups and small-to-midsize-businesses and this is a growing trend for this segment.”

Green Feels Good

If being nimble in business is not enough, stewards of the environment will be happy to know there is a positive impact to accessing rather than owning furnishings.  A single desk chair has many natural resources such as petroleum for foam and plastic as well as natural metals for the base. Desking and tables often have wood cores.   FaaS reduces the rate of use in raw materials used to manufacture new furniture. Did you know more than 9 million tons of furniture ends up in landfills each year?  Disposing of used furniture is extremely difficult, time consuming and costly.  Businesses who are churning owned furniture assets are contributing to the disposal crisis.  Furniture as a Service results in 49 percent fewer greenhouse gases as the reuse rate of furnishings is between two-to-six-times longer than ownership models, significantly lengthening the lifespan before disposal.

So, whether you are leveraging FaaS to improve efficiencies in your current office space, implementing for long-term innovation and flexibility, supporting green initiatives or all of the above, there are tremendous benefits to your bottom line when you make your furniture work for you. To learn more about how CORT can support your business initiatives, visit

Written by Peggy Moore.

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Peggy Moore
Peggy Moore, senior vice president of Corporate Sales at CORT, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. Peggy is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.