Going green in the office has never been more important. Global leaders are putting pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, and both clients and employees are increasingly likely to consider an environmentally conscious workplace a key factor in their satisfaction with the company.
Company owners are therefore adopting sustainable practices that involve every aspect of their business. From the stock they purchase to the way they ask their employees to work, changes can be implemented to make for a greener work operation. If office sustainability is high on your list of priorities, we’ve got plenty of practical and achievable environmentally mindful ideas that will boost your eco credentials.
The Hot Topic of Office Sustainability
Sustainability has come to cover more than just environmental factors – it also encompasses ethical, safe, and socially mindful practices.
Over the past decade, UK businesses have faced new regulations and laws in areas such as waste, energy use, and the claims they make about their green credentials. New regulations continue to roll in and these are forcing businesses to become innovative in the way they run their operations.
From a global perspective, the need to reduce carbon emissions is at a crisis point. There is social pressure to contend with too, especially when it comes to the other sustainability factors mentioned above. People want businesses to be transparent and ethical in all that they do.
The Benefits of Going Green in the office
Going green in the workplace has a range of benefits that make curating a sustainable way of life in the office a highly desirable approach.
Addressing the Company’s Carbon Footprint
We’re all aware of the subject of the carbon footprint. As individuals we’ve been asked to consider this in terms of air travel, the car journeys we make, and even the type of new car we purchase. Companies have also been asked to work on their carbon footprint, with some industries being given targets to meet.
The public perception of a company can be swayed by its environmental standpoint. With people at home expected to become greener, sorting out recycling daily, and learning to deal with soaring fuel prices, there is certainly an expectation that companies should play their part too.
Conversely, businesses that have been exposed for having poor environmental practices have received substantial public backlash, alongside hefty fines.
A 2016 study found that over half of employees would refuse to work for a company that didn’t implement environmental and social sustainability protocols. At a time when staff retention and satisfaction are crucial to the stability of companies, listening to what workers want is key.
A Positive Company Culture
Sustainable practices are all about being socially conscious, holistic in your decision making and working together for the greater good. If you’re a company that leads from the top on this matter, this mindset will trickle down through the workforce, having an impact on the way employees work within your business.
You could see benefits such as staff seeking to solve issues by looking at the root of the problem, and reducing waste in terms of time and materials (which will ultimately save the company money). This positive culture will improve interactions between team members, management and clients.
Sustainable practices can impact your bottom line. We all know that fuel costs have been soaring, so making energy savings can represent a financial boon at the moment. Furthermore, if your company is working hard to reduce waste, your stock management will improve, reducing your outgoings.
So, how do you reap all these benefits of office sustainability? Read through our 20 ideas and plan your eco-friendly office policies.
20 Sustainable Ideas for Your Office
Going green in the office is most certainly the way forward, but you need to get everyone on board. Choosing strategies that are easy to initiate and maintain is key and it’s also a great idea to speak to employees to see which ideas they’re most enthusiastic about.
You’ll want to include initiatives that cover a range of benefits, including reducing your impact on the environment, keeping your staff feeling positive and engaged, and saving money.
1. Set Up a Sustainability Committee
Getting employees onto a committee dedicated to improving office sustainability is likely to yield better results for several reasons. Employees are more likely to be receptive to the ideas and requests of other employees, over management. Furthermore, staff members are best placed to work out the most user-friendly way to implement the green protocols.
2. Embrace the Paperless Approach
Although there are still documents that we need to print out (and you should do so using recycled paper), there is plenty of scope within the office to greatly reduce the use of paper. Furnish your staff with great digital and cloud storage options and they can file on their computers with ease. Purchase e-signature software so that clients and employees can sign documents without the need for paper. When paper is printed, encourage staff to use the blank side of the sheet for note-taking once the document is no longer needed. Get printer savvy too. While not all printing can be avoided, there are steps you can take to make it more sustainable. Reduce the number of printers to go green in the office and make sure you recycle the empty cartridges and toners. Where possible, use the double-sided print option.
3. Switch Off for Impressive Energy Savings
Even when your work devices enter sleep mode, they’re still consuming power, so ask employees to switch equipment off at the wall at the end of the day. Computers, printers and copiers all sap power overnight, and there are notable savings to be made by switching off.
4. Use Smart Power Strips
These clever gadgets shut off the power to equipment that has entered standby mode. If you’re struggling to get your employees to switch off and unplug, these are a great alternative.
5. Light Management
Just as you can get staff to switch off their equipment, get them to be more mindful about switching off lights too. Great signage and light monitors will probably be necessary because although people are good at turning off lights at home, they won’t have quite the same motivation when they’re not footing the electricity bill. Pay particular attention to lights in meeting rooms and hallways, as these are spots that almost certainly won’t need full-time lighting. Installing motion-activated lights in such regions can be very effective.
6. Banish Single-Use Cups
Something that your workforce is likely to get behind you on in terms of office sustainability is a single-use cup ban. Water machines tend to remain the biggest modern culprit for supplying plastic cups. Simply stop purchasing these and either offer recyclable paper cups or, ideally, ask your team to bring in their own water bottles. If your budget allows, providing reusable bottles and personalising them with your company’s sustainability goals can help to keep staff engaged with your strategies.
7. Make Your Computers More Energy Efficient
There are a few simple adjustments you can make to ensure that office computers are more eco-friendly. Turning down the brightness of the monitor is a good start, and many workers may prefer this setting. Select lower-power modes and allow your computer to ‘sleep’ when you’re inactive for a short period. You can purchase energy-efficient accessories, including webcams for meetings. When you need to buy new computers for the office, make their energy efficiency rating a driving force for your decision.
8. Assess Your Waste Routines
Although it’s very convenient to have a wastepaper bin under each desk, this may lead to missed recycling opportunities. Going green in the office could involve encouraging staff to use a more centralised bin system that promotes the sorting of general and food waste from recyclable goods.
Make sure your employees understand your company’s recycling goals and processes. Mark bins with clear information to make it easy for recycling to take place, and use paper shredders to decrease the volume of paper so that bins don’t get full too quickly.
9. Commuting Considerations
Encouraging carpooling is a great way to get your business to reduce its carbon footprint. You could also set up incentives for staff who are willing to leave their car at home and walk or cycle to work, or use public transport.
10. Eco-Friendly Food and Drink in the Workplace
Many business owners now understand the benefits of supplying the team with a great coffee machine and good-quality teas and hot chocolates. You can keep your employees happy and create an office of sustainability by purchasing Fairtrade and eco-friendly beverages and food.
11. Make the Most of Natural Light
In addition to making energy savings, you may find that productivity levels go up and stress levels go down if you bring more natural light into the office. Open blinds and asks the building’s maintenance team to cut back any trees or foliage that block light from the windows.
12. Energy-Efficient Lighting
An easy way to make energy savings is to simply switch to energy-efficient bulbs. Almost all styles of lighting now have the option for a greener LED bulb, and if you struggle to find one, it may be a great opportunity to upgrade your office lighting style.
13. Tweak the Thermostat
You need your employees to feel comfortable, but going green in the workplace can be done by turning down the thermostat by just a degree or two in the cooler months. Asking your team to wear an extra layer, such as a jumper or cardigan that will still allow them to work easily, is a fair request.
14. Ditch Paper Towels
A switch to microfibre cloths, which can be washed and reused, can cut down paper towel usage. Have these available in the kitchen and break rooms for general spills and wiping. In bathrooms, replace paper towels with energy-efficient hand driers.
15. Order in Bulk
Management should speak to the heads of departments about pooling stock orders and buying in bulk. This will reduce the number of deliveries to the office, thus reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
16. Save Water
You can improve office sustainability by taking responsibility for water wastage in the office building. Sensor taps will only allow water to flow when they sense hands or a drinking vessel, reducing water loss by up to 70% with some models.
17. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Furnish your cleaning team and communal areas with green cleaning products to reduce your output of chemicals into the atmosphere and waterways.
18. Stock the Breakroom with Reusable Items
To prevent the use of plastic cutlery and cups in the kitchen and breakroom, purchase good-quality crockery and cutlery and ensure a robust system for keeping these clean. Taking personal responsibility for washing after use is usually the best option, but make sure you brief the team on the importance of hygiene in the workplace.
19. Recycle Your Office Furniture and Equipment
Rather than sending your retired office items to the scrap heap, give those that are in good working order a second lease of life. Staff who work at home may require office furniture, and schools and libraries are often looking for donations of IT equipment.
20. Reward Sustainable Behaviour
Your business will only succeed in its office sustainability goals if the members of staff feel incentivised to participate long term. In addition to taking the time to explain the benefits of the actions you’re asking of the team, keep the motivation to follow the rules high by rewarding their hard work. Get the employees to choose their incentives and rewards and try to encourage those that link into sustainability.
Although you’ll benefit financially by going green in the office, everyone will appreciate the wider benefits too. From a sense of pride in the company’s ethics to new sustainability knowledge and skills that workers can use at home, it’s a win-win situation.