Want to make your office more sustainable? Whether you’re a large company with multiple offices or a family-run start-up, there are several ways that you can make your working space greener. Here are six tips for reducing your carbon footprint and creating an eco-friendly office space.
Eliminate single-use plastics and reduce waste
A zero-waste company policy would be challenging to implement, but companies can start by eliminating the most common single-use plastics. For example, supply water refill stations and glasses to reduce the need for bottled water or give employees a reusable water bottle to use at work and on the morning and evening commutes.
If the office has a shared kitchen, replace disposable cutlery, plates, mugs, and paper towels with reusable dining ware and washable towels. Change the office printing default to print double-sided, only print when necessary, and go paperless if possible.
Include reusable water bottles in new employee welcome packages
Familiarize new employees with eco-friendly office policies by including a company-branded water bottle as part of the employee onboarding programme. A top-quality stainless-steel water bottle that’s toxin-free, recyclable, and built to last is a useful gift that will introduce new employees to the concept of a zero-waste office.
You can also include eco-friendly office supplies made from recycled, recyclable, or compostable materials in a new employee welcome package.
Create eco-friendly office challenges
Make being sustainable fun by introducing a competitive element. Consider introducing monthly challenges, such as a cycle to work challenge, a no plastic bottles challenge, or a meat-free month challenge, to encourage your employees to go green. You can reward those who complete the challenge with eco-friendly corporate gifts or vouchers for sustainable stores or services.
Reduce energy use
Minimise energy consumption in the office by switching off office electronics from the mains instead of leaving them on standby. This includes the office coffee machine and water cooler as well as computer devices and desk lamps. Replace office lighting with energy-efficient bulbs and consider rearranging office furniture or reschedule working hours to take advantage of daylight.
Another option, which you can introduce through a monthly green challenge, is encouraging employees to bring their lunch to work in a thermally insulated food pot. This will reduce the need for microwaves and fridges in the office kitchen as well as cutting waste from takeaway meals.
Promote green commuting or allow employees to work from home
Outside of city centres, where public transport is often time-consuming, impractical, or costly, many employees travel to work by personal vehicle. This is a major cause of air pollution and C02 emissions, but it can be avoided by getting employees to cycle or walk to work. Make sure there is a safe place for employees to lock their bikes during working hours and when possible, allow flexible working hours so that cyclists can avoid peak traffic hours.
Those who live further away can carpool with other office employees. A carpooling sign up list can be displayed on a notice board or somewhere where all employees will see it. Alternatively, companies with a lot of employees could supply a private company bus for areas where the largest proportions of employees live. You can also reduce employees travel footprint by allowing meetings between regional offices to be carried out using video chat software.
If the location of your office or working hours make it difficult for your employees to commute to work by public transport or other green means, consider allowing them to work from home all or some days of the week.
Employ a sustainability manager or a sustainability team
If you’re serious about adopting green office policies, a sustainability manager or a sustainability team, depending on the size of the company, can help facilitate the change.
This person or team will take the pressure off of the current management team, allowing them to focus on their key roles. Meanwhile, a sustainability manager can organise and promote green initiatives, implement an office recycling program, reach out to environmental organisations that the company could partner with, and select the environmentally-friendly corporate gifts that will showcase the brand.
Creating an eco-friendly office isn’t as easy as switching Styrofoam cups for reusable coffee mugs. If it were, every company would be carbon neutral by now. For your green office policies to be successful, all employees need to be on board with the changes. A sustainability manager or team can take charge of educating employees, through formal presentations or informal chats, about the importance of eco-friendly office policies and local environmental issues.
Also read: What is corporate social responsibility?
Are you prepared to make your office eco-friendlier? Start with these six tips for an eco-friendly office.