Sustainability in the Workplace – 5 Ways to Make Your Business Greener

Ross Haxton

By Ross Haxton, Creative & Brand Services Director

Posted on

Sustainability in the workplace has never been more important. Our world is in the midst of one of its most challenging periods in recent memory. From global pandemics to the increasing issues surrounding sustainability, it’s never been more critical for businesses to take the lead in reducing their carbon footprint and the amount of waste generated.

Following on from our articles on Back to work post -COVID and Workplace design – Five Key Trends, we are now exploring different sustainability requirements in the workplace, and five ways you can build sustainability into your workplace strategy. These initiatives will contribute to increased efficiency in your operations, and a significant improvement in the happiness of your workforce.

COVID has forced us to rethink the workplace – on a positive note, it provides an opportunity to embrace change and put sustainability at the heart of your operations.

Some solutions may be more achievable than you think.

1. Sustainability & COVID-19

COVID has clearly had a significant impact on the workplace. Organisations that didn’t have a remote working system in place have been forced to implement those systems rapidly.

In the not too distant future, the world will return to a new normality, but this won’t mean the end of specific systems that were set up during this time. Measures such as remote working have already contributed to a more sustainable workplace, from a reduction in energy and water consumption to reduced travel and a more balanced work life for employees.

Regulations have changed so much – from sanitisation to social distancing – that for some companies, it has become inefficient to pursue office operations. We know that office space will be scaled down and that workplace must become more appealing in order to attract the workforce back.

2. Everyday Sustainability

Small changes to everyday operations can have a significantly amplified effect within the workplace, when it comes to creating a greener working environment.

  • Accessible recycling points
  • Low flow toilets and water sources
  • Multiple-use water bottles
  • Go paperless
  • Open windows in preference to air conditioning
  • Turn down the thermometer
  • Introduce house plants
  • Switch off lighting when rooms are not in use

Current and potential employees (sustainability is high on the agenda of most Millennials) will notice the forward-thinking changes made, making it a more attractive place to work. In the longer term you will find that you’re able to engage better with your existing employees and secure new talent.

Many of these smaller initiatives revolve around human behaviour so think about introducing a monthly competition for employees to help set new habits.

3. Harnessing Technology

Technology is used to enable communication, increase the efficiency of workforces around the world and can be utilised to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your workspaces.

Systems such as Nest and Hive provide complete control over the temperature control in your premises; automatic lighting sensors prevent the waste of energy and collaboration technology has reduced the requirement for unnecessary travel for meetings.

Some types of software and technology are more costly than others but the long term benefits and savings make them worthy of investment.  Technology of this kind has never been more accessible, and there has also never been a better time to consider incorporating them into your workplace strategy.

For longer term solutions, Facilities Managers are now looking at alternative sources of power.

4. Biophilic Design

Creating a sustainable workplace is about more than just reducing your consumption. In addition to a focus on conserving resources and reducing emissions, biophilic design is a proactive way to create a healthier workplace for everyone and inject a new lifeforce into your spaces.

By adorning offices with natural furnishings like plants and foliage, you’ll be taking steps to increase the amount of oxygen and quality of air in the atmosphere of your offices. Natural décor has also been proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.

Businesses have a genuine duty of care to their employees, and more organisations are taking a proactive approach in ensuring that their place of work is attractive and healthy.

The utilisation of biophilic design, along with other facilities like standing desks and hydration points, will significantly increase the attractiveness of the workplace, helping to draw back your employees and keep them well.

5. Sustainable Materials

Eco-friendly design and sourcing is about using sustainable materials from environmentally friendly suppliers, as well as using innovative eco materials.

We pride ourselves on selecting materials from manufacturers that have long lifecycles and can be recycled and reused. When introducing workplace branding, we strive to use recyclable materials and often refurbish, rather than replace. Workstations can be easily upcycled, much in the same way that home furniture is.

Think durability and longevity when it comes to selecting your furniture:

  • Is it easy to repair?
  • Is the supplier eco friendly?
  • Can it be supplied locally?

If you do need to replace items, then recycle rather than send to landfill.

In terms of supply chain, consider the environmental credentials of your vendors- do they have credible sustainability goals and adhere to environmental standards? When sourcing items, aim to resource them locally wherever possible.

In addition to materials selection, interior design can also play an instrumental role, drawing on nature and incorporating outdoors spaces into office design. For example, we helped Arla Foods to actively display their environmental commitments in a comprehensive workplace branding programme at their head offices in Denmark and Sweden.

Find out more

As one of your largest physical assets, the workplace, be it an office or an industrial site, offers one of the greatest opportunities to contribute to your company’s carbon neutral status.

If you are considering a change in your workplace format, then now is the time to incorporate sustainability into your workplace strategy, We’d be delighted to help with free advice to get you started.

Find out more about our work with clients such as FedEx, HSBC, Coca-Cola, Nokia and Alitalia, to name a few.