Greener Workspaces: 9 Suggestions For Building One (Including Office Plan)
As businesses are becoming more environmentally-minded, more is being done to incorporate sustainable practices into the workplace. This starts with smaller actions, like turning off lights or using less plastic cutlery, but there is more that businesses could be doing. Taking action as a company has a bigger effect, and sends a message about the priorities of your business.
But what should businesses be doing? There’s a lot of advice online, suggesting everything from introducing desk plants to finding environmentally friendly cleaning products. Yet, not every idea is practical for all businesses. Even so, going green is good for business in more ways than one. In this guide, we’ll look at what it means to create a green workspace, along with suggestions to inspire you
What is a Green Workspace?
Going ‘green’ doesn’t really have a clear meaning, except that it relates to an environmental choice. We assume a green workspace makes decisions based on sustainability, working to reduce waste and damaging outputs. However, it is often used to ‘greenwash’ companies – making their actions appear environmentally conscious without making any real effort or difference.
Creating a green workspace that works requires consistent action and a commitment to continual improvement. These workspaces prioritize the environment in their decisions across the business. They focus on the difference they can make rather than how they can market their sustainability. Employees within a sustainable business recognize the measures taken to benefit and nurture the environment.
9 Suggestions for Building a Greener Workspace
To prioritize sustainability and the environment, you’ll have to go further than desk plants (even though they’re great). Whatever action you decide, clearly communicate them with your team, using inclusion psychology to account for the different backgrounds of your employees. To get you started in a more sustainable direction, we’ve collected nine suggestions to help you build a green workspace.
1. Recycle Waste
An easy way to make your workplace more sustainable is by reducing and recycling your waste. In your office this includes having paper and card recycling, food composting and coffee capsule recycling in your kitchen and using technology recycling solutions for old laptops, monitors, or printers.
Recycling doesn’t take much energy to enforce and only requires a separate bin for members of your teams to start using. You need to find out if your site collects recycling or if you need to take it to a collection point. If your teams are made of remote workers, you may need other ways to incentivize employees to recycle wherever they are.
2. Use Sustainable Resources
Include sustainability in your design features, using renewable resources to make your products. Having this focus, particularly in research and development, helps to reduce waste by opting for recyclable or reusable options. Use plastic alternatives and natural packaging solutions when posting or shipping products.
Sustainable resources also cover the supplies and resources needed by your offices to help them function. This includes sustainable lighting that uses efficient bulbs or LED strips and other energy-efficient tech devices in the office. Refillable environmentally friendly cleaning products keep the workplace hygienic whilst reducing cleaning waste.
3. Reduce Travel
When your business collaborates with other brands or influencers, it’s helpful to have meetings together. This can mean long hours of travel, particularly for international businesses or large enterprises, creating unnecessary emissions. Instead, use enterprise communication systems to schedule collaborative meetings online, or to oversee multiple offices in different locations.
Likewise, when hosting events and conferences, try to use online solutions or offer them to people from the local area. This encourages attendees not to travel far as they can get the same experience from interacting online. It’s also an opportunity for your business to give back to the local community, supporting them in their learning and training.
4. Educate Your Employees
If your employees don’t understand your new sustainable practices, it’s going to be harder to convince them to adopt them. This can reduce their success and lead to avoidable issues. Educating your teams can help with this, while enabling them to put similar actions into practice in their home life too.
Schedule training sessions around sustainability, allowing employees to learn more about what they can do. As you introduce new measures, explain the reasoning behind them, either in your conferences and meeting minutes or through a company-wide email. This allows teams to ask questions and get on board.
5. Introduce Cycle-to-work Schemes
Commuting is a key source of emissions for your employees, particularly if they drive long distances to the office. Although green cars could be an option, encouraging your teams to use alternative modes of transport can further reduce emissions. By using public transport or company-provided services, your employees can limit the vehicles being used. Alternatively, remote working solutions remove commutes altogether.
A cycle-to-work or other sustainable travel scheme encourages employees to find alternative ways of commuting, reducing their emissions. Offer a discount or code to buy the correct gear needed to cycle to work, or a ticket deal with public transport providers. Cycle schemes also promote the health and well-being of employees.
6. Switch Energy Provider
If your workplace relies on large office spaces, a portion of your business carbon footprint is going to come from the energy you use there. Moving to an environmentally friendly energy provider ensures that you’re using sustainable lighting and heating in the space, using electricity from sustainable sources, like wind or solar energy farms.
Your office situation could make this suggestion difficult to implement, particularly if you’re renting. However, if you do your research and have an alternative energy provider to suggest, the office owner may be open to change. While it requires initial admin and effort to make the change, once it’s done, there’s no daily input required.
7. Create a Green Initiative
For larger enterprises or those businesses with more resources to dedicate to sustainability, creating green initiatives and projects could be an option for you. You could work with local groups on their projects through a volunteer scheme or ask sustainability experts to advise you in building campaigns for employees.
Ensure your initiative has a focus, as there are many environmental goals your projects could set. Using an ESG solution can help gather analytics on your existing sustainability actions, highlighting other related targets. Starting with a small target and emphasizing green energy for sustainable lighting or planting trees in local forests can make your projects more achievable. It also helps with finding specialists to assist in directing the project.
8. Donate to Environmental Charities
There are limits to what your business can do to support the environment while still maintaining your business plan and making profits. However, environmental charities dedicate their energy toward advocating for sustainable practices, implementing strategies to support nature, and researching changes in the climate. Donating to these enables you to support their cause.
By donating, you allow environmental experts and those best trained to support nature to do so. Rather than creating an initiative with limited research and understanding, many charities rely on the knowledge of local representatives and take care to fully prepare their projects. It’s also easy to set up a regular donation amount or percentage of your profits.
9. Introduce Office Plants
Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning desk plants and the benefits office plants can provide. Unlike environmentally friendly cleaning products and the other suggestions above, the benefits of indoor plants don’t seem as obvious. Yet, desk plants can teach your employees about sustainability, purify the office air, and add to the atmosphere of your office.
Having office plants can act as a gateway to educating your employees on gardening skills, teaching them the importance of different plants and how they benefit the environment. Desk plants also benefit productivity and creativity, helping teams to feel more focused and improving the air quality in their workspace.
Greener Workspaces Are More Than Office Plants
Every business’s approach to sustainability will look different, depending on its resources. Making sustainability a priority should change your business practices, and educate and encourage your employees. Likewise, you should be able to explain these to your customers, whether through contact center as a service (CCaaS) solutions or the content you post online.
Sustainability can be daunting, like your business has to be perfect to make a difference to the climate. Any action you take helps to align your workplace practices with sustainable values. Just like products that use automated QA testing, your green workspace actions often need reviewing to improve them. These suggestions act as a starting point, but it’s up to you to keep building on them and educating your team.
Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives with features like the toll-free numbers for business. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has also written for other domains such as PingPlotter and TRACX. Check out her LinkedIn profile.