Sustainability has become the “in” thing in nearly every aspect of our lives — our new sustainable homes, energy efficient cars, and even our workplaces. Sure, the word can get a little cliche at times; it seems like you can’t really get away from the notion of being more sustainable. But even at its most inundating, the concept can actually provide a number of tangible benefits to our lives without a huge amount of effort.
In fact, there are about a hundred ways that being sustainable can actually make the office a bit of a better place to be. Some research indicates that a more sustainable, green office space helps employees feel less anxious or stressed and more productive. These good feelings can lead to better reviews, greater accomplishments, and less turnover.
If your office is working towards becoming more sustainable, congrats! Working towards that goal doesn’t always have to equate to spending a lot of money to completely reorganize everything. Rather, sustainability can come in any number of small ways that add up to some major benefits.
Decorating around the office can certainly vary in scale. For example, adding plants around the office or opening up the blinds to allow for natural lighting can help people relax and feel more content in their workspace. Likewise, upcycling around the office can help reduce office waste and give your space a bit more of a personalized touch which can encourage employees to feel more invested in their workplace.
If you are upgrading your office space and wanting to make a more sustainable impact during the process, upcycling some goods can be a great way to do it. But eventually, you are going to need to buy some new things. Making your purchases count by getting products and furniture that is useful to employees and still sustainable or even LEED certified can help you meet your goals.
A higher LEED certification rating can come from much of the new office furniture purchases such as desks, chairs, computers, and lighting. Electrical products can be more energy efficient, while the furniture can be constructed of recycled materials. LEED certification points can make your office a more desirable place to work, a boon for retaining current employees and attracting quality new hires.
Replacing things within the office doesn’t have to be the only way to become a more sustainable space. Just keeping up on some of the regular office maintenance tasks can actually help your office waste less and reach its sustainability goals. Doing so can even safe the company quite a bit of money each year.
An example of this is taking the time to make sure all of the office plumbing is working at an optimal condition. Just like in a home, leaking pipes or damaged water heaters can quickly cost the company thousands of dollars and months of heartache in repairs. But fixing leaks and getting issues squared away quickly can make a difference. Even a dripping faucet can be a profound water waster, costing your company money and sustainability points in one fell swoop.
Your office can also keep up on other maintenance, upgrades, and repairs that will impact your ability to be sustainable and likely save money in the process. Examples are:
- HVAC maintenance
- Use laptops and turn things off at night
- Install motion activated lighting
- Install a smart thermostat
- Consolidate printers
- Upgrade to LEED appliances
- Use water efficient landscape designs
Finally, the people component. Keeping up on important office maintenance and doing upgrades can go a long way in making your company more sustainable, but getting people on board is the final component. Once the other employees buy in, your workspace will be well on its way to a more sustainable outcome.
But how to do that?
One way to start is by allowing employees to contribute to sustainability goals. For instance, allow them to telework once a week, which will reduce their environmental impact from driving. It also reduces the use of lighting, power, and water in the office. Likewise, get employees to participate in company events that benefit sustainability goals, which can build a team mentality and improve working relations.
If your company hosts conferences or employees attend meetings regularly, perhaps it is time to rethink meeting sustainability. Are there ways to waste less, such as by requiring participants to bring their own coffee cups? Can meetings take place virtually rather than in person? All of these small things can really add up.
Sustainability in the office is a completely manageable thing in small steps. Sustainable decor and technology as well as keeping up on maintenance and repairs can make a big difference. Getting other people involved and on board with sustainability in the office is the final step to success! You can do it!