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Promoting a greener workplace doesn’t just have positive effects for the environment, but can also save money, improve a company’s reputation, and contribute to a more productive and motivated team. As the many benefits of promoting sustainability become increasingly publicised, more and more businesses are committing to going greener.
Being more sustainable doesn’t have to call for huge changes in your office. There are a number of initiatives - some small, and some which require more planning - that can be easily implemented to promote a more environmentally-friendly office.
Paper accounts for around 50% of a business’ waste – and often needlessly so. Though every office will need to use paper in some capacity, there are ways to drastically reduce the amount you are consuming, promote sustainability, and in turn, spend less money.
In most offices, printing tends to be by far the biggest waste of paper. Digital and cloud solutions such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and HR software are great ways to avoid as much printing – and likewise policy documents, reports and manuals can all be stored online to save paper wastage.
Printing is often so quick and easy that employees will do it unnecessarily - so setting up your printer with a password might be just the inconvenience your staff need to make them think twice. When employees do need to print, encouraging them to use both sides of paper and share copies rather than printing out multiples, will drastically cut down your usage.
The combination of using less paper and less ink will not only make your office more eco-friendly, but will slash your office printing costs, too.
The benefits of recycling are well-documented - not only will it have major positive effects for the environment, but it is also a great way for businesses to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Office waste is often more than 80% recyclable – but without proper systems in place it’s easy to go wrong.
Often, the best place to start is with paper. Position paper recycling boxes where they will be needed most - usually next to people’s desks, or by the office printer.
Once you’ve tackled the most visible waste product, try getting your employees more involved in a recycling drive – by setting up recycling challenges, nominating one team member per week to act as a coordinator, or even providing environmental awareness training.
Moving forward, when you grow your team and hire graduates, make sure that every employee is clued up on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to recycling.
That way, everyone is in the loop – and your office will start to see the benefits of efficient recycling, as well as increased employee engagement.
Conserving energy at work can go a long way towards creating a more sustainable office – as well as saving you money. Electronic equipment is so integral to our day-to-day lives, especially at work, that we often forget how much we use (and therefore waste).
Throughout the day, when a meeting room is not in use, make sure the lights are turned off – and if possible, install only energy-saving bulbs around the office.
If you have a microwave in your office kitchen - did you know that it uses most of its electricity when it’s sitting there unused? Whenever it’s not being used, turning your microwave off at the switch (and sending an email round to encourage everyone else to do the same!) can save up to 35 kilowatt hours per year.
We wouldn’t leave electricals at home on overnight - so at the end of the day, the last person to leave the office should make sure that all lights (even down to standby lights on computers!), plugs and electrical appliances are switched off.
Making these very small yet conscious changes can dramatically cut your office electricity costs, extend the working life of your equipment and help define your corporate image as a responsible, caring and sustainable business.
Encouraging your employees to take alternative methods of transport to and from the office can be great for both your company’s reputation, and for the general health and wellbeing of your staff. In fact, studies have shown that incorporating physical activity into commuting can drastically improve mood, productivity and focus throughout the day.
Whether it’s providing somewhere to store bikes, showers, lockers, or a ride-to-work incentive, there are plenty of ways to encourage your employees to change their commute.
As well as getting your staff moving and lowering your team’s carbon emissions, incentivising sustainable commuting is a great tool when it comes to graduate recruitment – a perk that will set your organisation apart from other businesses on a graduate job description.
If it’s feasible, giving your employees the option to work from home once per week is another great way to reduce your company’s collective carbon footprint, whilst also cutting office costs and improving your team’s work-life balance.
Encouraging your employees to bring in their own lunches can be beneficial on many different fronts – cutting packaging on buying it at a chain restaurant, saving them money, and often encouraging them to make healthier choices; increasing focus and helping them to avoid a mid-afternoon crash.
If you can, provide reusable cutlery and crockery to make it as easy as possible for employees to bring or prepare their own lunch.
Even better, encouraging your employees to make eco-friendly food choices is a great way to get your office involved in sustainability. Making a collective effort to cut down on meat consumption can have a huge impact on the planet – so an initiative like a free vegetarian lunch will not only make your office more green, but will initiate conversations and bring your team together.
In recent years, workplace sustainability has become an increasingly talked-about trend – and it’s no surprise. Not only is implementing sustainable practices in your business great for the environment, but can reduce energy costs, improve the health and overall satisfaction of your employees, and even help to enhance your corporate identity in the long-term.
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