8 great tips to help make your office a more sustainable workplace
Becoming a more sustainable workplace doesn't have to be a chore; it can be incredibly beneficial for you and your team.
It's probably about time we changed our outlook on sustainability. There was a time when it was just brushed off as purely an exercise in cutting out what you used to rely on, but when you take a look at it you gain a lot more than you lose.
You gain a new way to motivate your team, something for them to all work towards, and oh so much more. There might also be unnecessary energy expenses that have just as big an impact on your energy bill as they do your carbon footprint, so you might find it can benefit your bottom line as well.
Not to mention you gain that warm, fuzzy feeling reserved for businesspeople doing their bit for the environment. Like a boss. An environmentally-friendly boss.
Open up the floor
Regardless of what business you're in, your best resource is sitting right in front of you (unless they work remotely of course). Tapping into other people's minds should definitely be your starting point, and it'll give you an idea which ones are going to actually going to last.
I mean, if you get the idea your whole "let's stop having a coffee machine to save energy" plan would cause a small riot it might be best to float it first. If it plops like the lead balloon any idea that involves taking coffee away from busy people would, you've saved yourself a lot of hassle.
The best ideas could be sitting in the back of someone else's head, and all you've got to do is give them an opportunity to share it. Once you've set your new sustainability plan in action you can always check back in with everyone to get their thoughts on how it can be improved.
Find out what supports are out there
Depending on where you are based, there's a good chance that there are incentives and grants available for going green. Whether it takes a chunk out of the cost of fitting a solar panel or makes electric car charging points a more affordable option, you'd be surprised what supports you can find.
It's not going to be applicable everywhere, but a good place to start would be to check out any schemes set up by your local government or council.
Speaking to any other businesses that have made similar efforts in recent years is a good idea as well. They might have taken advantage of a grant you never heard of before, and might be willing to share a few pointers on the whole process.
Lead from the front
If this is going to work, it can't just be something you expect of your employees. It should be reflected in all of the decisions you are making for the company, like a target your actions are always working towards in the long run.
I mean, if you are trying to get everyone on board with a new sustainability plan and rock up to work in a gas-guzzling SUV, no one will take you seriously.
Keep it on your mind, and the sustainable choice will simply present itself to you a lot of the time. Whether you're trying to stock up the office with supplies made from renewable materials or opting for sustainable corporate gifts for clients, it all adds up.
Cut it out
When you are leaving the office, is there really any point in keeping desktop monitors, printers, and lights kept on? If stuff is being left draining power for all that time it will add a lot to your energy costs, as well as your carbon footprint.
The last thing people should try to do when finishing up is think about what electronics don't need to be left on.
The security alarm probably doesn't come into this category. We won't hold it against you for keeping that on overnight...
Make them want it
Remember in school, when teachers used to hand out gold stars for good behaviour? Adulthood is missing that kind of action, so making it part of your office sustainability plan is sure to be a popular move.
They don't have to be literal gold stars (although there's nothing wrong with them at all), it could be a leader board or some kind of rewards system. Not only does this add a bit of a competitive edge to things where everyone wants to be the greenest team member, but it also makes their efforts feel that little bit more worthwhile.
The rewards themselves can take whatever shape you want, and it's a good opportunity to improve team morale. Maybe give prizes to whoever tops the table at the end of the month, like a gift card for a local restaurant or give away a bike at the end of the year.
Seeing as everybody is going to the same place, it makes a lot of sense for carpooling to be an option. Whether it works out being one person who makes the trip or they take it in turns, cutting out the emissions of a few cars makes a huge difference over the course of a few months or a year.
It's a good thing to incentivise as well, which ties into the aforementioned rewards system. Covering their fuel costs would surely be appreciated, as would any kind of pat on the back for trying to do the right thing for the environment.
Don't just give them a physical pat on the back though and pass it off as reward enough, you're better than that. Don't be that guy.
Bring a degree of change
Knocking down the thermostat one degree can have a much bigger impact long term than you might think. Without having a huge effect on how comfortable everyone feels in their workplace, it can cut right into the amount of energy required to keep it a consistent temperature.
You'll see the impact of this reflected in your energy bills as well. After a year of doing this you'll be able to compare it to what your costs used to be like and see for yourself how big of an impact one small change can make.
Just don't take this as an invitation to gradually knock the temperature down by one degree every now and then. Don't be that guy either.
Let there be light
If you're lucky enough to work somewhere that gets plenty of natural light, you could probably consider knocking off the lights during the day.
Similarly to knocking down the thermostat, this is something that should bring down energy costs as well.
Another benefit to natural light over synthetic is that it helps keep our bodies in check as well. Sunlight effectively keeps your brain's schedule on track, meaning everybody's heads should be in the game exactly when you need them and should be more set to rest and come in sharp the next day.