Small steps to a sustainable workplace

Making the move towards a greener workplace is not only good for the environment, studies have shown that it can lead to healthier, happier, more productive employees too. As a rule, most of us want to do the right thing by the planet. Creating an eco-friendly office by following easy steps like the ones below, is just one small way to make a difference.

Of course it’s not always easy being green, and change can be a challenge; especially within larger organisations, where a ‘way of working’ can be ingrained. However, the push to become more climate-friendly is an urgent and important one. Corporates in particular have a duty to act responsibly – the future of the earth depends on the steps we take today!

The first thing to know is that the creation of an eco-conscious workplace starts at ground level, by getting staff on board. Your people need to be invested in your vision and have a clear idea of what’s expected. Simple is best. On that note, here are some basic steps to get the ball rolling and make sustainability a focus for your team.

Ramp up your recycling

While most of us already know how to recycle, some people still get confused as to what type of waste goes where. An easy way to get around this is to clearly label your rubbish, recycling and compost bins. You can also further educate employees with refresher emails or noticeboard reminders, encouraging them to recycle correctly and remain mindful. Over and above daily waste, your recycling programme may also include the safe removal of old computer parts and electronics, by donating them to organisations supporting the ethical disposal of e-waste.

Choose to reuse

Single-use coffee cups and water bottles are a huge problem for the planet, which is why you should opt for reusables wherever you can. Incentivise your team into better habits with company merchandise such as non-disposable travel mugs / keep cups and stainless steel water bottles. Encourage the sharing and reuse of surplus equipment and office supplies (e.g. stationery and computer cords) by setting up a dedicated place where items can be shelved or stored, until they find a new home.

Cut down on paper

Luckily the need for paper and printers in today’s workplace has markedly decreased, thanks to a range of seamless digital alternatives such as proofing, signing and reporting tools, Google Docs, cloud storage services and more. On the odd occasion you might actually need to ‘send to print’, you can always choose to go double-sided, and indeed, make this your printer default setting. Some companies also set a paper limit per week, per employee.

Be energy efficient

The simplest and cheapest way to boost energy efficiency and save power is to turn everything off in the office that doesn’t need to be switched on. This includes lights, appliances and electronic equipment outside of work hours. Be clear about company policies, and let staff know what they need to do, e.g. shut down computers at the end of the day, or turn off the lights and air-conditioning when a room is not in use.

Green the commute

Many office-based businesses are now using the hybrid work model, which in itself has an environmental upside. More people working from home means less people commuting, which in turn means fewer cars on the road and lower carbon emissions. On days when your employees do have to come to the office, perhaps encourage them to consider an eco-friendlier approach, such as carpooling, public transport, cycling, or walking. You could even set up a bike rack at the office to help facilitate this.

Involve your team

The most powerful way to effect lasting change and embed sustainability into your company culture is to get your people on board. So rather than telling them what to do, why not invite suggestions, run brainstorming sessions, offer incentives and perhaps even set up a dedicated, in-house taskforce to make sustainability your shared goal. Many businesses are already doing this (Barfoot & Thompson is one of them). Allocate time and a budget to the cause, put measurable goals in place, and be sure to report back on progress. That way, everyone will have a clear picture of the impact they are making.

In the end, any step that integrates sustainability into the workplace is a positive move. And no matter how large or small, it’s 100% worth taking.