Conscious consumerism has fuelled an environmental movement, which has gathered pace over the years. The effects of this are increasingly being felt in the corporate world. As a result, the term ‘sustainable workplace’ has begun to gain significant currency of late. But what exactly does it mean?
Put simply, it means placing the needs of your staff and the planet at the heart of your operations. Sustainable workplaces try to improve the wellbeing of employees and the world. It leads to happier, more productive workers. This in turn can positively impact revenue and enhance the organisation’s overall reputation.
Find out how to make your workplace more sustainable in the following article.
But First… What Are The Benefits Of A Sustainable Workplace?
Companies that embrace workplace sustainability reap many rewards. This includes benefits for staff, the earth, and the company’s bottom line. Below we detail a few of these fantastic advantages.
Increased Job Satisfaction
Adopting sustainable practices in the workplace can increase job satisfaction levels for staff. Here are a few examples of how sustainability can improve employee wellbeing:
- Increased contact with nature helps to elevate moods.
- Exposure to fresh air helps to alleviate depression.
- Involvement in company sustainability initiatives improves self-perception.
- Sustainability programs that involve activity help improve physical health.
These are just a few potential benefits of workplace sustainability initiatives. As can be seen, they can significantly improve employee mental and physical health. This goes a long way towards improving overall job satisfaction.
Another powerful argument for implementing workplace sustainability is the effect it has on productivity. For example, providing healthy food in the cafeteria can boost staff energy levels. This will also lower the risk of employees developing lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes. Similarly, green workplace policies can boost staff morale, which can then stimulate higher productivity.
Millennials are already the largest age-bracket demographic in the workforce. By 2025, they will make up around 75% of all workers
. Because of this and the fact that this group is very concerned with sustainability and improving the environment, it is vital that companies adopt policies that reflect their values. Otherwise, the best and brightest candidates are going to work for other companies they identify more with.
Reduced Environmental Footprint
Establishing a sustainable workplace is the best way to reduce your environmental footprint. This will help lessen your contribution to climate change for the betterment of the planet.
In the long term, this means a healthy and prosperous world. However, there is a short-term business case to be made here as well. Companies need natural resources to continue their operations. Clean water is necessary for factories to operate. Cleaner air provides a healthier and more productive workforce. Farms need fertile soil to produce healthy crops for selling. Developing sustainable workplaces helps to replenish the planet’s natural resources. These natural resources are exactly what businesses need to progress at the beginning of the cycle.
How To Create A Sustainable Workplace?
The benefits of sustainability in the workplace should now be clearer. Now let’s consider the practicalities. What methods can you implement to make your company sustainable?
Read on, for a wide selection of actionable steps you can take to achieve this.
1. Go Paperless
Numerous companies still rely heavily on using paper. This not only results in unnecessary costs and wasted office space but it also contributes to the environmental catastrophe of deforestation. That’s because millions of trees are cut down annually to produce this paper.
The answer to this problem is simple: go digital. By replacing paper documents with digital ones, you’ll save both money and office space. Not to mention the environment.
2. Sustainable Cafeteria
Introducing a sustainable cafeteria will benefit your workforce and the planet. Only stock sustainable products, bought in bulk, to reduce your waste output. At the same time, these healthy foodstuffs will benefit your employees’ wellbeing.
Additionally, provide utensils made out of natural materials that can be reused. This will help to diminish the plastic waste problem created by single-use plastic cutlery.
3. No Disposable Plastic
On the topic of single-use plastic, don’t just rid these items from your cafeteria. An organisation-wide ban should be implemented. This should include products like plastic cups and lanyards for visitors. Similarly, buy office supplies that aren't wrapped in plastic packaging.
4. Cut Electricity Consumption As Much As Possible
You can also help the environment and your budget by reducing electricity usage. This can be achieved in myriad ways. Try introducing staff campaigns to reduce energy consumption. Put up reminders for turning off computers before people leave work. You can also install motion sensors that automatically switch off lights when a room is empty.
5. Focus On Solar Energy
Solar energy is totally clean, completely renewable, and easily accessible. Consider installing solar panels on your building. They will supply all the energy you need to run your company. This greatly benefits the planet and also saves you money in the long term.
6. Water Conservation
Water conservation is often overlooked. But since it takes resources to treat and transport water – the less wastage, the better. This can be approached through measures such as installing low-flow showers and dishwashers. It’s also useful to instigate campaigns to encourage staff to use water sparingly. In addition to this, you can recycle water and harvest rainwater.
7. Green Commuting - Go Virtual With Meetings
Increase sustainability in the workplace though green commuting and virtual meetings. In terms of the former, urge your employees to walk or cycle to work, where possible. Similarly, you can facilitate carpooling or signpost local public transport routes. You can even encourage people to work from home. This will remove the need for commuting altogether.
In terms of the latter, promote the use of virtual meetings, where possible. This will help support personnel working from home. Teleconferencing applications such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams are free and easy to use.
8. Chemical-Free Office Cleaning
The harsh chemicals used for cleaning offices are not just bad for the environment. They can also cause damage to people who’re consistently exposed to them over time. If you’re committed to developing a sustainable workplace, you should replace these with greener, chemical-free, alternatives. Fortunately, there are many options available. This includes everything from cleaners that are salt based, to others that use electrical charges.
9. Install Colour-Coded Recycling Bins In The Office
Recycling should be a central part of any company’s sustainable workplace policy. However, it’s important that recycled materials are properly sorted according to material. To help your staff do this, install colour-coded recycling bins. Each colour will indicate the waste product that should be placed inside. For example, green could be for paper, blue for plastic, and so on.
10. Place Reusable Drying Towels In The Restrooms
A quick way to reduce your company’s waste output is to stop using single-use paper towels in your restrooms. Instead, place reusable cotton towels in there. These can then be washed, dried, and used again, rather than thrown out.
How To Go Sustainable Seamlessly?
Organize Employee Awareness Campaigns
Going sustainable will be much easier if all of your members of staff are engaged and informed. To facilitate this, launch employee awareness campaigns. The goal is to fully explain the aims and benefits of your sustainable workplace efforts.
Planting trees is an easy way to offset your company’s carbon footprint. This can either be done yourself, or through an environmental charity.
Arrange Car-Free Days
Encourage your staff to lessen their environmental impact by arranging regular car-free days. To help in this respect, provide information on local public transport. Additionally, facilitate carpooling through internal staff notices.
Organise Clean-Up Events In Your Local Community
Organising clean-up events can increase staff engagement and improve your company’s reputation. This is all while meeting your sustainable workplace objectives.
It can be anything from picking up litter in certain areas to restoring public gardens or parks. You could even encourage your staff to come up with suggestions.
Develop A Sustainable Workplace Today
With a sustainable workplace offering so many benefits, it’s worth revisiting your current policies to determine the best way forward. By following the actionable suggestions on achieving workplace sustainability above, you too can create an environment that improves staff wellbeing, protects the planet, and boosts company-wide performance.