If you have never packed up an entire company and multiple offices worth of files, supplies, and knick-knacks, and moved it all to a new office space across town, in the span of about two to three weeks, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Moving is all at once frustrating, confusing, irritating, time-consuming, tedious, and above all liberating. It is like doing laundry, or cleaning the bathrooms–you don’t want to do it, but it must be done, and when it is, the result is worth the effort.
The nonprofit organization that I work for, Steeltown Entertainment Project, has recently moved to a new office building. This move has come with all of the trials and tribulations a move can come with, and then some. But didn’t someone famous once say, the greater the effort, the greater the reward?
Moving a business or company is not like moving your family to a new house. When your family moves, the stuff is yours. It is stuff that you bought, you own, you live with and you love. You want to take care of it and cautiously move it from its cherished location in home #1 to a new cherished location in home #2. When people move their place of work, the things are not household things, you don’t live with them and you probably didn’t purchase them. You certainly don’t love those dusty old files and office supplies that someone forgot about and now must be organized, packed, and relocated.
Keep in mind that Steeltown is a relatively small nonprofit that was founded in 2003. It is not very old, nor does it have very many employees, when compared with large businesses or corporations. Three offices can’t possibly hold that much stuff, can it?
But the mantra for our two-week packing spree should have been, “Everything must go” because that about sums it up. We packed up boxes and boxes and boxes of old files to be archived. We taped them up securely because they will rarely be accessed. We packed boxes and boxes of filing supplies and offices supplies. Just when we taped a box shut, we found a whole stash of the same thing hidden somewhere else. We packed up boxes of computer equipment, software, editing equipment, tapes, DVD’s, VHS’s. There were kitchen-y supplies. And more files which were being actively used. Everything had to go.
As a recent hoarding convert, this appalled me. When I was younger I liked to keep everything, until I pulled it out 15 years later and realized it really didn’t have any value, sentimental or otherwise. I’ve become in recent months a firm believer of throwing things out that you no longer use- such as clothes, shoes, receipts, etc., as hard as it may seem at the time. So here I was, packing up things that had not been touched in years simply because they were forgotten about. If no one knew they were there, how could they be missed if they were thrown out? And yet, they were boxed and packed. Never to be seen again. The only thing I was really permitted to throw away was expired food. And some of the food I found had expired as long ago as 2009. No one was going to argue me on that one.
The hardest part about moving offices for me came from being the newest staff member. I didn’t know where things were kept or how they were organized or how they were planned to be organized later. I didn’t know where things came from, why we were keeping it, or why we had it in the first place. I found things that were so seemingly random that I kept a box that I called “Random Things to be Sorted Later.” That box quickly became five.
The packing seemed long and tedious. The boxes seemed endless. All of the packed boxes were going down to the basement of the building to await Moving Day, but it seemed as soon as we’d packed them and stored them there, we needed something that was in there. A business has to keep running, after all, even while it’s packing.
Finally, the offices were empty, the last boxes taped shut. I didn’t have to partake in Moving Day, but the day after, there everything was, all the boxes in their new separate offices, waiting to be unpacked and sorted yet again.
But I’ve always liked unpacking better than packing. I can put things where I want them, organize them how I like, and I know exactly where everything is.
Now, day three in the new office and (almost) everything has a place. And I can finally look up from the boxes and take stock of my upgrade– from sitting on a hard plastic chair, sandwiched between two or three other people in the same room, with my laptop balancing precariously on a bookshelf, to my new comfortable office chair with my own desk, soon to be my own computer, in my own office. Never was a moment so gratifying.
Moving offices means more than just packing stuff up and putting it in a new place. It means the company is expanding. It means better working conditions, where employees are more efficient. It means making a bigger impact, being a bigger presence in the city of Pittsburgh. This is the liberating feeling of progress.
Oh and that famous person’s quote?
“The greater the effort, the greater the glory.” -Pierre Corneille, French playwright. With all the effort we put in, Steeltown better be headed for glory…