Why focus on sustainability in the workplace and how to make it happen?
According to the definition of the OSHA*, the sustainability principles are based on three correlated aspects: the planet, the people, and profit. Achieving a balance of the three is the key to long-term success and viability. To reach this goal, many of us adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It includes reducing our waste, decreasing our CO2 impact, lowering our meat and fish consumption, opting for slow travel instead of flying, and much more. But companies have a huge role in this fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Sustainability in the workplace isn’t just a trend. It has become a must that benefits businesses as much as people. Why? In this article, we will explore the elements of this critical change. To help you shift to more sustainable practices, we’ll also give you essential tips to switch to a green office.
Why does sustainability in the workplace matter?
An advantage to attracting and retaining talents
Employees’ expectations keep evolving, and while fair remuneration remains a core pillar for job satisfaction, the company’s culture matters too. Workers, especially Millenials and Gen Z, highly value working for an organization that offers flexible work opportunities, promotes an employee-centric approach, and shares their values.
DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) and sustainability are among the most critical aspects of modern workplaces. What is the point of making an effort at home to act for the planet and its people if the firm they’re working for keeps practicing harmful behaviors?
Consequently, green offices are an advantage in retaining their employees and attracting new talents. Likewise, corporate partners and customers also become more aware of their environmental impact. For them, collaborating with or supporting a business that shares a different vision would feel wrong.
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A way to decrease office costs
Bringing more sustainability in the workplace can be achieved through many different areas (we’ll give you more detail about this right after). The cherry on top is that these eco-friendly switches can quite often let you decrease your company’s bills.
For example, adopting a remote or a hybrid work model usually allows you to reduce the size of your office space and your energy consumption. Promoting the 3 R’s principle (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) instead of throwing away and buying brand-new can also help lower expenses. The buying costs of sustainable technology are often higher than classic items. Still, you have to see it as a long-term investment.
And sometimes, it doesn’t cost a dime to be sustainable. Unsubscribing to newsletters that you never read. Or stop sending an e-mail to your colleagues to get an “OK cool!” answer. These little steps can help reduce your carbon footprint without spending any money.
A solution to reduce our negative environmental impact even more
As an African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Acting for the environment as an individual is great, but doing it collectively has an even stronger impact. As a company, you can gather your teams together to adopt more sustainable ways of working and reduce your negative impact as a community.
Some of your employees might not be aware of the steps to take to create a more sustainable living environment. This is the occasion to share with them various insights about the doughnut of social and planetary boundaries. Never heard about it? Don’t worry; unfortunately, many of us haven’t. This amazing tool gathers 9 key topics: air pollution, biodiversity loss, and ocean acidification. Understanding more about these nine critical areas, sharing this information with your workers, and putting actions in place is essential.
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How do you create a green office?
Shift to a more sustainable working model, a.k.a. remote or hybrid work
Not only does flexible work improve employee experience and satisfaction, but it also enables people to reduce their CO2 impact due to transport pollution. By implementing a remote or hybrid work model, your coworkers don’t have to commute to the office daily. They can either work from home or go to a third workplace by walking or biking.
The switch to hybrid schedules may also force you to rethink your office space. Its size needs to be adjusted as well as its design. Therefore, the energy consumption of your physical work environment should decrease, lowering your costs and your CO2 impact.
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Implement green practices in the office
After learning how your company can help coworkers lower their air pollution impact, it’s time to address the actions you can take when on-site. The number of practices that foster a more sustainable and greener office is endless. To start, we highly recommend you read our 21 ideas for more sustainability in the workplace. If you don’t have time now, here are a few eco-friendly solutions to implement in your office:
- become a paperless office;
- implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy;
- offer vegetarian and vegan menu options;
- share information about reducing digital pollution;
- provide recharging stations for electric cars and bike parks if you have a company parking area;
- travel by bus or train for your business trips.
Review your office space
Lastly, the office needs to be redesigned to be more sustainable. One by one, review each area of your office (workspaces, bathroom, chilling zones, kitchen area, etc.) and ask yourself how you can make it greener. The goal isn’t to change everything overnight or be perfect. The most important thing is to determine your areas of improvement and tackle them slowly but surely to create a better work environment for your teams and for the planet.
For example, you can first look at improving the lighting system. Do you use LED bulbs? Could you install solar panels? Do you have a motion sensor light system? If your office has a lot of windows, reduce the use of artificial light by designing the workspace in a way that enables employees to benefit from the natural light. Like this, they won’t have to switch on the light all day long when coming to work on-site.
As well as reading our 21 sustainable ideas for the workplace, you can also have a look at the article about the monthly green challenges for the office.
We hope you understand better why sustainability in the workplace is essential and how you can create a greener office. If you want to learn more about this topic, we highly recommend reading the deskbird articles mentioned above. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about the latest trends in the future of work!
Do you want to allow your employees to work hybrid, so they don’t have to take the car or public transport daily? Request a free demo of the deskbird app and discover the perks of our hybrid space management tool!
*Occupational Safety and Health Administration