Teamwork Becomes “Greenwork” in an Office Cleanout

Teamwork is used globally as a strategy for completing tasks. In the business world, it is said to improve companies by boosting morale, increasing efficiency, creating innovation, and providing flexibility.

In early February, a professor and researcher retired from the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. Over the course of his research career at the University of Rochester, he had collected an abundance of books, film footage, notes, and other media from case studies that were now resting in his research labs and office. In kind consideration, the professor proactively approached staff about properly cleaning out old items instead of disposing of or abandoning them altogether. He took the time to separate paper and equipment into two different rooms.

Administrator of the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, Loretta Pratt, examined the piled materials finding that much of it appeared to be recyclable. She contacted University IT who removed machines, recorders and other equipment to be recycled through the IT Equipment Recovery Program. Pratt then enlisted Kim Taylor, Service Coordinator of River Campus Events and Furniture and Property, to help evaluate the most effective and time efficient way to move the remaining material, keeping in consideration the separation of recyclable items. With help from the University’s recycling coordinator and waste partner, Waste Management, the group came to a consensus that recycling most of the paper material was possible. But while some of the paper, such as bound journals, could be recycled as is, other paper needed to be first separated from metal and plastic binders. Numerous boxes would need to be broken down as well. Then the group weighed how to best tackle the piles of material that filled the crowded office. The sheer volume meant that this was not a task that would be easily taken on by one individual.

Assistance came from Gerald Moultrie and James Foster with River Campus Events and Furniture and Property, as well as Ron Hobbs, Dave Love, Joe Carter and Sam Mann with Environmental Services.  In the true spirit of teamwork, Facilities Team Green interns were also going to pitch in on this task. Yet ultimately the team was not needed thanks to the swift and thorough job done by the other employees who combined forces to breakdown boxes, transport items, dismantle office furniture, and separate out paper to be recycled. Together the team filled six 96-gallon containers of paper and only two conatiners of items that would be sent to the landfill!

Offices and labs often become repurposed at the University and therefore, cleanout of the previous occupant’s materials and equipment is necessary. Whether a professor retires or grant money for special projects disappears, there is often a very limited amount of time to accomplish a cleanout before the next occupant moves in.

Yet, this team exemplified how an efficient and ecofriendly cleanout is possible, demonstrated how collaboration enables quick and thorough completion of tasks, set a new precedent for future office cleanups, and catered to the strengths of different members to fulfill different duties. For this team at the University, teamwork boosted morale and increased efficiency, innovation, and flexibility. Thank you to all of the people who made that cleaning work, “green work”.


Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015

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