Human beings have done significant damage to the environment. This knowledge makes sustainability come up whenever we look for solutions to environmental problems. But how does a sustainable workplace tie into the bigger picture?
Although sustainability is the only solution to our damaged environment, it can also positively affect the health and happiness of employees.
Furthermore, it can help companies to attract customers as well as employees.
If people take sustainability more seriously than a mission statement, it can become a catalyst to future-proof businesses and boost growth.
Most companies look at sustainability as an outbound activity toward the community and the world. However, lasting change originates from creating a sustainable workplace.
13 Initiatives For A More Sustainable Workplace
1 | Create A Sustainability Team
You can get more work done and raise awareness quickly with a sustainability team. The team can teach staff members about sustainable workplace practices. They can ask for professionals from the local power, water, and waste departments to come and train staff about sustainability.
A sustainability team is more effective because they are employees engaging their peers. In contrast, top-down instructions are unlikely to be met with the same level of engagement.
2 | Come Up With Monthly Sustainability Challenges
There is nothing better than getting peoples’ competitive engagement flowing. When you create challenges, you get employees invested in sustainability efforts because they will get rewards.
3 | Switch Off Lights, Electronics, Heating In The Evening
Leaving electronics on when nobody is using them wastes a lot of energy. Every sustainable workplace should enforce strict rules about turning the equipment off.
4 | Replacing Older Technologies With Sustainable Ones
You might not have the resources to change all your supplies and equipment for sustainable ones. However, you can focus on the areas with the most impact.
For instance, you could allocate a big part of your budget towards efficient electronics that reduce office waste, like smart building solutions.
5 | Move To Renewable Energy
Renewable energy sources are much cheaper than they were a few years ago. One of the commonly available options for offices is a rooftop solar panel system.
6 | Turn Down The Climate Control
During the summer months, most offices overuse air conditioners. Employees can decide to set the AC to kick in at a higher temperature, provided the workplace is still comfortable.
Increasing the workplace temperature by a few degrees could save thousands of dollars annually.
7 | Eliminate Paper In The Workplace
It is a tough ask but it is possible, albeit in stages. Paper waste is a big problem in offices. More than 90% of wasted paper in the US comes from revisions and updates on printed documents.
The ideal sustainable workplace should use digital files whenever possible. Also, people should get used to editing files on the screen before printing them.
Eliminating paper reduces expenses significantly. Additionally, you do not have to buy and maintain filing cabinets.
8 | Bring Indoor Plants Into The Workplace
You can improve indoor air quality by bringing in some nature. Plants produce oxygen and reduce the impact of harmful chemicals released by furniture and equipment. They also act as natural humidifiers during dry months.
Furthermore, plants improve the mood of people in the workplace.
9 | Maximize Natural Light
According to the World Green Building Council, people who work close to sunlit areas are more productive. Natural light has many positive health benefits. It improves sleep, digestion, mood, and vitamin D production.
In addition to the well-being of employees, a sustainable workplace that uses natural light saves energy.
10 | Switch To LED Bulbs
A sustainable workplace should use LED bulbs exclusively. Even if they still have CFL bulbs, they should be the least used ones. LEDs save 80% of the energy that CFL bulbs can use.
11 | Implement A Recycling Program
An easy sustainability policy to create is a recycling program. Encourage employees to recycle everything from kitchen waste to paper and electronic waste.
Designate bins for various types of waste and label them clearly.
You could find a way to donate or safely dispose of electronics to ethical recycling facilities.
12 | Encourage Employees To Use Sustainable Transportation
Employees do not have to come to work with their cars. You could encourage them to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport. On some occasions, you can offer employees commuting subsidies.
For non-critical employees, you could allow them to work remotely for some days of the week.
13 | Prioritize Green Vendors
You could choose to do business with environmentally conscious companies. Research the vendors you are thinking about doing business with to figure out their sustainability policies. Dealing with green vendors will increase your employees’ appreciation for their sustainable workplace.
Who Contributes To Make A Workplace Sustainable?
For sustainability measures to become permanent, all stakeholders must uphold them. The following are the people who ensure the success of a sustainable workplace.
Business Owners And Leaders
People with leadership training and experience are necessary to make changes that work throughout the organization. Business owners and leaders of organizations can make the right decisions to improve the business, employees, clients, and the world. The owners and leaders are in the perfect position to make lasting changes because they have the expertise and authority to change policies.
Administrators And Supervisors
They know the day-to-day activities of the workplace better than top-level managers. Creating a sustainable workplace requires people who can resolve complex problems using unique perspectives and skills. Administrators and supervisors, thanks to their hands-on roles, can implement decisions coming from higher up.
Human Resource Professionals
You cannot build sustainable businesses without effective human resource practices. The HR department is in the perfect position to manage the interactions of employees and departments. They can ensure that new policies become part of the company’s culture. By ingraining policies, they create lasting changes in the organization.
Ideas on how to create a sustainable workplace can also come from employees. Just like supervisors, employees also have unique perspectives of the operations in the business. Employees’ ideas can help increase their productivity, health, and morale. They can also boost the profitability of the company.
Advantages Of A Sustainable Workplace
A company’s return on investment increases wherever it introduces sustainable practices. When a company invests in making the workplace sustainable, they benefit from the following:
- The average number of sick days decreases
- Lower medical costs because of fewer sick days
- The productivity of employees increases
- Employee job satisfaction and happiness increase
- It helps with talent retention and acquisition
- It enhances a company’s reputation. Many consumers now want to know where products come from before using them
- The company attracts more investment: Investors today are more careful where they invest. They avoid companies that engage in ecological malpractices
According to research, 85% of American millennials are willing to move to a company driven by a cause. Companies ought to take notice of the increasing need for sustainability and develop sustainable workplaces. They boost the morale of their employees and their bottom line as well.
Disadvantages Of Making A Workplace Sustainable
You will encounter challenges when creating a sustainable workplace with no experience. You will do a lot of trial and error before you get a working formula. These are some of the drawbacks of trying to turn a workplace green.
Sometimes a business might have insufficient time and money to implement sustainability strategies. Business owners often bite more than they can chew. They stretch their resources too thin and make little progress as a result.
To counteract this drawback, start with fewer changes as you plan for the more challenging ones.
People get used to operating a certain way when they do the same job repeatedly. They might adopt changes halfheartedly.
Whether you are trying to start sustainability initiatives with employees or upper management, you might meet resistance. To deal with it, business owners should find a way to make employees see how it will benefit them personally.
Difficulty Measuring Success
Most of your efforts to create a sustainable workplace will be hard to assess. For instance, it is hard to measure the effectiveness of energy-related policies. Whenever possible, you should develop evaluation criteria for each sustainability policy. You will be able to measure the overall effectiveness of your policies as you bake in more ways to evaluate individual policies.
Many sustainability practices might take a long time to bear fruit. Sometimes a business might realize the benefits after the managers who made the policies have left.
Lack Of Focus And A Plan
If you don’t have actionable plans to make a sustainable workplace, you can get overwhelmed. You will find yourself juggling your day-to-day activities with the new sustainability policies. Your profitability will suffer, or the sustainability policies will fail to take.
Narrowing down your focus usually fixes this problem.
More companies are heeding the call to reduce their carbon footprint. A popular way for a company to go green is to create a sustainable workplace. When a business implements strategies like the ones we have covered, they reduce their expenses and improve their reputation.
If you want to learn more about sustainable real estate, smart buildings, smart cities and PropTech, feel free to take a look at our other blog articles.