Making your office or workspace more sustainable is beneficial for your company’s bottom line. Simple changes can cut costs, improve employee productivity and retention, and enhance company reputation.
Whether you’re an influential member of upper management or a newly hired analyst, here are some tips to consider or recommend in order to cut costs, increase productivity, and reduce environmental impacts!
1. Shut down every night
Require that all employees turn off everything before they leave the office for the night. This means all electronics, including computers, all lights, and heat. Make it fun: If someone forgets to shut down, he or she has to put money in a “Sustainability Jar.” The money from the jar goes to the Sustainability Team (see #3) for its events or office greening efforts.
You may roll your eyes at this one because it’s obvious, but it’s shocking how many offices don’t recycle! From paper documents to garbage from lunch, enforce or encourage the recycling of every item that can be recycled. If you install recycling bins, make sure the maintenance staff and employees know how and what to recycle by placing signs near the bins. Items tossed in the bins can still end up in the landfill if: 1. the maintenance person is not instructed what to do with the contents and just throws them in the garbage, or 2. the recycled items are contaminated with food.
3. Start an office sustainability team
Deloitte found that 73% of employees at a company with a sense of purpose are engaged at work. Increase employee engagement by creating a Sustainability Team. The team can focus on raising awareness and/or accomplishing tasks. For example, it could organize a lunchtime fair in the cafeteria on Earth Day to teach fellow employees how to properly recycle.
4. Organize a monthly sustainability competition
Who doesn’t love a little friendly office competition? Small prizes or just bragging rights can go out to the teams who use reusable coffee mugs or bring in their own reusable utensils for lunch.
5. Choose paperless options
If the U.S. were to cut its office paper use by ~10%, or 490,000 metric tons, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by about 1.45 million metric tons–the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year. What’s more, in 2002, Fortune 1000 companies spent $217 billion on paper documents. Go paperless whenever and wherever possible to decrease expenses and your office’s footprint!
6. Incorporate plants in the office
In addition to providing decor, plants improve air quality. They produce oxygen and offset the chemicals from office items and furniture. They make for a happier and healthier workspace. Studies have also proven that plants improve mood and employee concentration.
7. Boost natural light
First, the use of natural light saves energy. Second, it affects our mood and behavior, resulting in happier employees, better attendance, and increased productivity.
8. Encourage greener transportation
Encouraging biking and walking motivates employees to lower emissions with the added bonus of improving their health and potentially reducing healthcare costs to the company. Carpooling or public transportation are also fantastic options to reduce emissions.
9. Promote working remotely
Allowing employees to work from home, even if only once in a while, reduces emissions caused by commuting, increases air quality, saves employees money and time, and causes less degradation to roads. Employees can be just as productive, if not more productive with less distraction from co-workers, working from home instead of in the office.
10. Update office technology
You may not want to spend office budget on new technology, but updated, energy efficient electronics may save you money in the long run. Consider purchasing Energy Star-qualified products such as computers or data center storage. Thinking about something a little easier and smaller scale? Start with Energy Star-qualified light bulbs.
11. Go renewable
Today, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are attainable and affordable. If your office doesn’t have the capability to install its own solar panels, another option is to choose a green energy strategy from your electricity supplier. This is an option if your company is located in a state without electricity regulation, and even if there is regulation, there may be green power options.
12. Consider the temperature
The temperature of the office is frequently a source of debate among employees. Some workers bundle up with sweaters, blankets, and even resort to space heaters to battle air conditioning in the heat of the summer. The good news is that even a small change will save money and make an environmental impact while keeping employees comfortable. Raising the thermostat by only one degree in summer can make a big difference. The energy and sustainability strategy expert at Ecova states, “One large box retailer lessened its impact on the environment by setting the AC to kick on at 75 degrees instead of 74 degrees. It now consumes 30,000 fewer kilowatts and saves $3,100 every year.”
13. Buy kitchen items in bulk
If your office stocks items such as coffee, sugar, salt, and pepper in individual packages, consider buying the items in bulk. This simple switch can cut down on kitchen expenses and the amount of waste produced.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor in your improved workspace!