Would you like to help the environment, reduce costs and boost employee productivity? Create a sustainable office. A green workplace is a fantastic way to encourage the discipline of practicing sustainability throughout a business and even wider life. We have set seven easy practices you can implement in your office to increase sustainability.
1. Encourage Green Commuting
Commuting can often be stressful and expensive thanks to traffic congestion and sky-high fuel prices. Green commuting can help eliminate stress, save money and lower emissions – what’s not to love? Consider introducing a Cycle to Work scheme or offering employees incentives to take public transport, walk or cycle to the office.
It’s also worth considering whether you really need to come into the office at all. Several studies have suggested that employees would rather continue to work from home than come back into the office following the pandemic. Offering work from home or hybrid working policies could greatly reduce your company’s carbon footprint by reducing carbon emissions, fuel consumption, and paper and plastic waste.
2. Create a Green Team
Creating a ‘Green Team’ within your organisation is great way to raise awareness and get your workforce on board with green initiatives. A Green Team is made up of employees who have volunteered their time to focus on sustainability issues within the company. Projects for the team could include anything from informing sustainable purchasing decisions to running company-wide environmental challenges. Another great bonus of creating a Green Team is the role the team will play educating staff on sustainability issues. The team can hold monthly informal lunch-and-learn sessions or create monthly green goals for departments, plus this is a great way to create an engaging activity for employees to get involved in!
Find out more on how to create a Green Team here.
3. Maximise Energy Efficiency
Some industries will inevitably use more energy than others, but it is possible for most companies to reduce their energy consumption by availing of the below methods.
Introducing simple changes such as an ‘everything off at night’ rule can often be one of the most effective ways to begin maximising your office’s energy efficiency. Following this, Yu can take energy efficiency even further by opting for energy efficient and sustainable office equipment. Considering that office equipment accounts for over 15% of all electricity use in UK offices, upgrading to energy efficient equipment is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. One of the most basic but important steps you can take is to ensure that new items carry a certified energy efficiency label before purchasing them. Equipment labelled as energy efficient uses considerably less electricity than standard products.
Relying more on natural light when possible can significantly reduce energy use and has a range of health benefits for employees. As natural light sets the body’s circadian rhythms (which controls sleeping patterns, digestion, and vitamin D synthesis), working in proximity to natural light can improve overall productivity and happiness in the workplace. On the contrary, indoor light has been found to be a major disruptor of productivity. If your office doesn’t have many windows, consider installing LED lights with sensors as a sustainable solution.
4. Reduce Paper Usage
At present it would be impossible for every business to go entirely paperless. If your company falls into this category try to ensure that your office keeps things digital whenever possible by encouraging reports and invoices to be digitised. You can further reduce your paper consumption by printing documents less and utilising other printing initiatives such as printing black and white or double-sided. Check with your supplier to ensure that your paper is recycled or coming from a sustainable FSC certified source.
5. Eliminate Single Use Plastics
Not all plastic was created equally. Plastic can be extremely useful; it’s cheap, lightweight, and durable. But it also comes at a huge environmental cost – it can take up to 450 years for one plastic coffee cup to decompose. Imagine you purchase one coffee per day at work: this equates to roughly 250 discarded coffee cups per year.
A huge amount of waste could be avoided by swapping all disposable workplace plastic (cutlery, disposable cups, bubble wrap, single use milk sachets, etc) with reusable, sustainable alternatives. This transition will come with an initial cost, but the investment will quickly pay off both financially and environmentally.
Also, ensure that you have adequate recycling bins well spread around the office to recycle any single use plastic employees bring with them to work.
6. Introduce Plants into the Office
Incorporating plants into your workspace is a great way to improve indoor air quality and bring some nature into the office environment. Plants produce oxygen and absorb any toxins that have been released into the air by office equipment such as printers, creating a cleaner, happier space for employees to work in. Studies have shown that adding indoor plants to a workplace can help reduce stress and increase creativity and productivity among employees.
7. Set Sustainable Targets
Setting ambitious but achievable sustainability targets is one of the most important aspects of creating a greener workplace. You could start small with a goal of reducing energy use by 2% a year, or a goal of reducing paper consumption by 50% in two years. This shows dedication to the cause and responsibility for your impact on the environment.
Creating monthly ‘green challenges’ for your workforce can be a fun way of combining competition and sustainable practices. For example, you could challenge employees to go a whole month without bringing any single use plastic into the office, or set a competition for all departments to use the least amount of paper for a month. These challenges can be rewarded with small prizes such as gift cards and will hopefully encourage lasting habits.