Implementing sustainable practices at work has a number of benefits – it improves the health of workers, reduces the business’s impact on the environment and can even result in bottom-line savings. Here are four strategies you can implement to make your office and your staff more environmentally friendly.
The average worker in the United States uses over 10,000 pieces of paper every year. When you consider that over 600mL of water is used to produce just one piece of paper, it’s clear that reducing paper consumption can greatly minimise environmental impact. Implement strategies that reduce the need for physical paper. Develop and store documents digitally instead of printing and filing. Use software and apps to complete activities you’d normally do using paper, such as developing to-do lists or printed memos for staff. Many businesses are hesitant to switch to paperless environments when dealing with agreements and contracts due to security and legal concerns. Online document storage businesses like Your Digital File (http://www.yourdigitalfile.com/) can provide customised solutions that allow for safe, secure storage and distribution of even the most sensitive files.
Your ICT infrastructure consumes a lot of energy and generates significant carbon emissions. Swap your desktop computer for a laptop or a thin client, as these use considerably less power. The average computer in Australia uses about $130 worth of electricity each year if left on overnight. You can reduce this cost to $30 just by turning your computer off when you leave for home. Ensure all the computers in the office have their energy-savings settings set to minimise environmental impact. Set displays, hard drives and hard disks to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity, and ensure the whole system goes on standby after 30 minutes. These simple settings can further reduce your energy consumption by over 60%.
Transportation and Telecommuting
A lot of your office’s carbon emissions are generated getting your staff to work. Carpooling or public transport on just one day of the week can reduce the overall carbon emissions by at least 20%. See if your administration team can facilitate carpooling arrangements to suit everyone in the office, or if an incentive can be implemented to encourage staff to walk, take public transport or ride bikes.
It’s also worth considering whether your staff need to be in the office every day. With advancements in home internet connectivity and cloud-based storage systems, many administration and client relation tasks can be managed from home or from local co-working centres. Reducing your staff’s travel time will greatly diminish the overall environmental impact of your office.
A Canadian study recently found that, on average, 83% of our time at work is spent indoors. It’s worthwhile considering how healthy this indoor office setting is for the health of your staff and the subsequent environmental impact. Limit the use of aerosols and chemical cleaners in the office. Indoor plants can greatly improve the atmosphere – they increase the flow of oxygen, reducing the need for air filters or purifiers. If possible, turn off the air-conditioning during peak times and open windows to moderate the temperature.
Has your office implemented any environmentally friendly strategies? Did all staff successfully adopt them? Did you see any improvements to your bottom line, either through increased productivity or decreased energy expenditure? Share your experiences by commenting below.