An office is generally the home of your company.
The way you run the office represents your company's values and beliefs, and in 2021, every office should be making the shift towards a more sustainable way of working.
Reducing your carbon footprint and working more sustainably can seem like a daunting task to undertake. However, with a few small steps, you can drastically change the sustainability of the way you work.
Running an environmentally friendly work-place is not as time-consuming, or as expensive as you might have initially thought. It does not mean you have to switch to vegan diets or electric cars, but introducing small, reasonable changes can make a huge difference.
Reuse and Recycle
The simplest and easiest way to encourage a less wasteful office is by reusing and recycling.
Ensure the office has dedicated bins throughout which clearly show what can be recycled. This not only encourages healthy practices within the office but sparks curiosity in your staff and makes them think about their current ways at home.
Printer and toner cartridges are a great place to start for a less obvious recycling method. Additionally, many companies offer reduced fees for these products when you send your old, empty product back—helping the environment as well as your wallet.
Providing reusable cutlery is also a simple tactic. When staff purchase meals to bring back to the office, these will likely come with a single-use plastic cutlery set. Having some reusable cutlery in the office is an easy way to encourage a green workforce.
Ensure electronics are correctly recycled. Most workspaces will already be recycling their paper and cardboard. But computers, keyboards, and mice should also be recycled. These can often be taken for parts and used to create new, more environmentally friendly machines.
Inspire the Workforce
To make an effective switch to a more sustainable operation, the entire team needs to be on board.
Holding training sessions or talks to inspire, educate and motivate your staff can be extremely beneficial. Many staff may feel overwhelmed at the process of working in a more energy-efficient way. So, showing them that little changes over time matters, will put their mind at ease and encourage them to participate with your green initiatives.
Go Plastic Free
The easiest way to ditch your team's single use plastic is by installing a bottleless water cooler. This not only reduces the need for endless plastic bottles but means your team will have instantaneous, great tasting, cool water. Bottleless water coolers are not only great for the environment, but they often work out much more cost-effective than purchasing an endless stream of bottled water for the team. Additionally, they are great for space saving, with a singular machine taking up much less physical space than plastic bottles would.
Switch to milk in glass bottles. We all love to drink copious amounts of tea and coffee in the office, which means we often go through many pints of milk in a day. Switching to milk delivery in glass bottles not only helps reduce single-use plastic but usually means you will be supporting local businesses. If you want to take this one step further, you could encourage using plant-based kinds of milk in the office, which are better for the environment, and often will be delivered in recyclable cardboard packaging.
Ban plastic straws. 2019 saw the ban on most pubs and cafes using plastic straws. Whilst we can all agree paper straws might not be the most effective tool for the job, investing in some reusable metal straws for the office is game-changing for cutting down on your overall plastic usage.
In 2021, most offices are making a move towards a paperless way of working. Most paper and card is fully recyclable, but the best solution for the environment is to cut down on needing it in the first place.
Take some time to consider which elements of your current practices could be switched to digital, which is often much simpler than you might have initially imagined.
A simple trick to use less paper is by setting the printer to print double-sided. Therefore, where printing is essential, you only need half the paper.
Cycle to Work Schemes
Cycle or walk to work schemes are a great way to reduce carbon emissions from cars and encourage a healthy and fit workforce.
There are many companies across the UK that your business could partner with to offer cycle loans, or discounted cycle gear, to encourage an active workforce.
Switch Off When Not in Use
Take a look around your office. How many machines and devices are currently plugged in, or even switched on, that are not even being touched. Unplug appliances that are not in regular use to reduce the amount of energy the team consumes daily.
Get Involved with Local Initiatives
Local cleanups are a great way of encouraging team building. They also help the local area look great and improve recycling levels.
Allowing your staff even a morning of company time per month shows that you are committed to making a difference, encouraging them to also be.
A bonus of getting involved with these events is that they boost your company's reputation and help you to build connections with potential customers and other businesses in the local area.
Ditch the Meat
Encouraging vegetarian or vegan meals or days such as meat-free Mondays is a great way to reduce the carbon emissions and boost your team's overall health.
Although many in the office might first be opposed to this, a simple change one day per week can make a considerable difference and soon become part of the regular office routine.
Remember, Small Steps Work
As an office, don't think you have to implement all of the above strategies immediately and simultaneously. This will overwhelm the staff, lead to burnout, and the whole process will end up being counterproductive.
Small, sustainable changes that have longevity are best in the long term.