Sustainability in the workplace is essential. For a business to be successful in this age of climate change awareness, sustainability needs to be part of its foundation. It is both possible and necessary for companies to have minimal impact on the environment with the vast technological resources we are provided with today.
Increasingly, customers and clients are assessing and choosing companies based on what influence their business and practices have on the planet. Hence, having a transparent sustainability policy and proof of sustainability in your records is great for business development, gaining respect in the eyes of the conscious consumer (or client), as well as contributing to the long-term benefits and future savings of your company. The support and participation from your staff is key to becoming a sustainable organisation. Greening the office can improve the wellbeing of your whole team, too!
It all starts with creating the culture of sustainability in your workplace.
Sustainability initiatives you can implement in your office or workplace
Having a green workplace culture
Implementing sustainable practices in the office is central for a healthy environment. Creating a culture of sustainability not only provides employees a reason to value their job but also attracts those who care about the planet to your business. There are many ways to help motivate your employees with green initiatives – you can get creative with ideas, too!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Hosting plastic-free lunch days
• Attending sustainable programs/events
• Bike to work days
• Recycled clothing days
• Lunch in a wax wrap
• Volunteering opportunities
• Fundraising environmental causes
• Bring your reusable cup/utensils
• Creating monthly green challenges
(e.g. one month of zero waste/plastic)
Every staff member can make a difference. Incorporating even a leader board, prizes or monthly ‘greenest’ employee awards could be incentives in creating a lively and engaging workplace. By including employees in an environmental vision and getting them involved, greener thinking is easily weaved into your company’s culture.
Collaborating and gathering ideas of how your organisation can go green is beneficial to helping everyone embody realistic, sustainable goals. The best part is that being an eco-friendly organisation will have a lasting impression for generations onwards.
Promoting a paperless office
Promoting a paperless office is becoming very popular as documents can be easily distributed to staff in digital forms. Even annual reports are increasingly being created and distributed to stakeholders digitally or turned into mini sites. It reduces clutter in the office and files are easily located in the cloud, accessible from anywhere.
However for some companies, cutting paper completely may not be a feasible option. If printing on paper is necessary, an easy green idea is to swap recycled paper into printers. Make sure that the settings on both computer and printer are set to double-sided printing! Also, you can use draft or toner-saving settings to avoid the extra ink.
When deciding which paper, toner and supplies to use, it’s worth checking if they’re from sustainable sources. How are they made and packaged? Where are they shipped from? Supporting other organisations who have sustainable values and are trying to break consumerist habits and production is vital. Choosing from companies that invest in recyclable materials act as a reminder to your staff and clients about your own organisation’s sustainable values.
Commuting is part of our daily lives, especially to and from work. Employees could decrease their environmental impact in many ways. It could be by public transportation (bus, train, tram) or even riding a shared vehicle on the roads – carpooling with family, friends or co-workers. Biking or skateboarding to work is just as environmentally friendly too! The most important factor is that each employee is comfortable with what works for them and their schedule.
Also, giving the choice of Working from Home (WFH) reduces a company’s carbon footprint significantly. Your company could host video conferences a few times a month or also offer transit subsidies to employees who commute to work.
Creating a healthy workplace environment
Bring in plants! Although we can’t bring the entire forest into an office, incorporating elements of nature helps to create a healthy working environment. Adding living plants not only improves indoor air quality but also provides a cleaner, happier space for people to work in.
Plants can uplift the overall atmosphere and performance of your workforce. If you’re looking for the next perfect office plant, this article can help you make a decision. It’s also worth reviewing sustainable office designs if you are redesigning your existing workplace, or when moving into a new office environment.
In addition, maximising natural light is important for the wellbeing of your employees. The World Green Building Council states that employees working close to sunlit windows have a 15% higher performance rate. Natural lighting also reduces energy consumption and thus helps your company save considerably on operating costs.
Conserving energy – electricity & humans
There are many quick and easy ways of saving energy in the office. It’s the usual – turning off the lights, computers and other electronic equipment that aren’t in use during out of office hours. Ensure that your workplace has clearly communicated a policy that would encourage conserving energy.
It’s also useful taking a look around the office to check which spaces are being heated and cooled unnecessarily (e.g. storage rooms). Installing energy efficient lights and sensor lighting for bathrooms in other areas that don’t require constant lighting are ways of making sustainable choices in your workplace.
Additionally, the wellbeing of your employees is just as important to consider when practicing sustainability. To have a healthy and happy working team is beneficial for your company’s overall productivity. Creating an uplifting environment could start by providing organic foods at lunch and attending social events together.
Global sustainability initiatives you can do as a team
Eating more plant-based foods not only helps to combat climate change, but also reduces preventable diseases for us humans. Meatless Monday is a global movement that might be perfect for your workplace, encouraging employees to eat less meat in their diet for their own health as well as the health of the planet’s. The message is simple: skip meat once a week on a Monday for positive change!
Beginning each week with Meatless Monday can support your employee’s decisions in making healthier choices by eating more fruits, vegetables and plant-based meals throughout the week. If you’re feeling stuck for ideas, Meatless Monday also offers a range of free resources such as how-to-guides and recipes to get you started!
January – Veganuary
January is the perfect month for introducing sustainable initiatives to your employees. Taking part in Veganuary is a green way to begin the year! Veganuary encourages anyone to try vegan for all of January and if it suits, beyond the month. Their vision to drive global change by supporting others in making better food choices not only helps to protect the planet but human health.
March – Earth Hour
Earth Hour, run by WWF is the world’s biggest global movement to look after our planet. During March every year, your employees can partake in this event by turning off their power for an hour, as a reminder that a simple switch-off in your daily life can make an impact on the Earth. This symbolic gesture shows how individual actions can demonstrate a renewable future not just for Australia but worldwide.
July – Plastic Free July
Another great initiative to take part of is Plastic Free July. Your employees can join millions of people in reducing their plastic waste. Plastic Free July encourages a month of zero plastic, allowing anyone to be part of the climate solution. Saying no to single use plastic, is one step closer to a world free of waste. If you need any tips on how to do so, Plastic Free July has a range of material to help you and your employees out!
Implementing these simple changes can help cultivate a more sustainable workplace that educates your business’ influence on the planet. Taking action by looking after the Earth is a necessity that every industry should consider. With the help of each employee and green idea, you’re all set to create an environmentally aware culture at work!
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