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Happy Earth Day! Whether you’re an employer looking to enhance their workplace culture, or an employee seeking sustainability in the workplace, walking into an office that aligns with your environmental values can do wonders for overall productivity.
Why is Sustainability in the Workplace Important?
Beyond the obvious environmental impact of a waste-free or energy-efficient office, you’ll also be cutting costs while boosting company morale. In fact, a Harvard study on workplace design found that companies using a “green” approach in their office fostered employees with a:
- 26% increase in cognitive performance,
- 30% decrease in sick days, and
- 6% boost in sleep quality outside of the office
Use these stats to help inspire your company! Specificially, improve health and productivity within by embracing sustainability in the workplace.
Remodel the Office
Getting your employees to change their habits and fully embrace sustainability in the workplace can be like teaching an old dog new tricks. Starting with an office renovation will provide physical changes to the environment where employees can seamlessly live sustainably without too much effort in actively changing their behavior. This step can encourage the adoption of longer-term practices.
In order to provide your office with cleaner water, consider installing point-of-filter systems on faucets. Employ a local plumbing expert to install eco-friendly toilets that are low-flow, helping to reduce water wasted per flush from the average 5-7 gallons per flush to 1.7 gallons.
Next, to reduce energy use, consider replacing light fixtures with LED bulbs. Another option for sustainability in the workplace is to install smart power strips that automatically shut off peripheral devices, such as printers and second monitors, when the employee unplugs their main laptop.
Go Green with Decor
When you feel green, you’ll be more likely to behave as such. For example, redecorate your office to create a more open, minimalist, and sustainable vibe. To promote company collaboration, replace half cubicle desks with long, wooden tables sans dividers. The lack of walls will additionally create an open floor plan that can lead to better communication, stronger employee relationships, and less anxiety due to less clutter.
Add eco-friendly rugs too beneath the desks. These rugs mimic natural elements, such as grass, wicker, or shaggy faux fur. People will appreciate the earthy-feel in the office, therefore promoting clean living.
Lastly, stick to neutral colorscapes to create a calming environment, including small pops of color throughout the office to keep the space from getting bland. Bring in air-purifying plants to help your employees breathe cleaner and easier than before as they crush their goals. That’s workplace sustainability.
Remove Plastic from the Kitchen
When workers go to take their lunch break, be sure they’re grabbing Earth friendly utensils. Rather than filling your kitchen drawers with plastic, disposable forks, knives, and spoons, opt for silverware that can be washable and reusable.
Doing so will help your office minimize how much it adds to local landfills that already have lots of plastic. Unfortunately, plastic takes up to 400 years to decompose fully. Consider investing in an energy and water-efficient dishwasher to run once a week to provide the office with clean, reusable eating tools. Soon employees might use these green kitchen activities within their own homes.
In addition to flatware, stock shelves with glass or bamboo bowls and plates. Doing so can minimize the need for plastic containers and disposable plates. Offer incentives too for the elimination of plastic from the office as part of sustainability in the workplace efforts.
For example, you might provide perks like longer lunch breaks for those who consistently bring their lunch in sustainable packaging and use the eco-friendly kitchen materials.
Build relationships with local small businesses to set up an initiative to encourage employees to shop small. If the business is small, local, or actively adopts and advertises eco-friendly practices, offer employees small discounts on their purchases.
This will incentivize the decision to support local spots, which will in turn minimize your company’s overall carbon footprint. Larger department stores or chain restaurants import the majority of their clothing or food, requiring travel and thus greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the consumer.
Sustainability in the Workplace: Go Paperless
With so many technological advancements, there are many online applications available to help your office eliminate the need for paper printouts. That’s all while increasing overall workflow productivity. Making the move to creating a paperless office can minimize your company’s paper waste while maximizing the ease with which teams connect and organize.
Consider upgrading your company to an office-wide communication system too. One example is the Google Suite of file sharing apps, such as Dropbox. Apps like this one can help your workers receive office updates and do project management tasks. They’ll also get the latest emails from their work BFF within seconds, all without the need to chop down trees!
Promote Remote Work
Allowing employees to work from home will minimize the need for travel into work. If they drive then that means less personal emissions of greenhouse gases into the air. And that’s sustainability in the workplace in action.
Create a policy too that allows for remote work, up to two times a week. The reason is to ensure the office morale stays lively and connected. Finally, to minimize greenhouse gas via travel when employees are in the office, set up a company carpool program. This green initiative can further reduce the number of cars on the road.
Your Thoughts on Workplace Sustainability
What are some other eco-friendly activities for the workplace? Would you describe your work environment as “green”?