There are many benefits to creating more sustainable workplaces, beyond the positive climate impact.
It doesn’t take long to find a company with green credentials. Startups like Upflex plant a tree for every reservation they receive. There are also giants in the sector. BlackRock, an asset management company, recently announced it would stop investing in companies that contribute towards the climate crisis.
McKinsey released a report in January urging businesses, large and small, to take immediate action. “Just like how information systems and cyber risk have been considered in decision-making in the public and private sectors, climate change will be an important factor in these decisions.” The report was written by Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey Global Institute Director.
Entrepreneurs should make sustainability a priority in their business. The best place to start is at work. Greening an office, or creating more sustainable workspaces, has many benefits that go beyond the positive impact on the environment. First, they are usually cheaper to run, which allows you to save on maintenance and service costs. These workspaces are more enjoyable to work in, which can help with recruitment and retention, particularly among young people who are environmentally conscious. Greener offices also demonstrate a company’s commitment to sustainability.
No matter what your motivation, it’s clear that offices of tomorrow will have a lower environmental impact than they do today. Sustainability initiatives don’t require your employees to sacrifice conveniences or perks. These are some suggestions that any company can use.
A company’s carbon footprint includes emissions from its employees as a result of travel. In the United States, an average American traveler spends 80 liters per year in traffic jams. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 29% of US greenhouse gases emissions came from transportation in 2017. This is where business travelers play a key role. There are many lower-carbon alternatives to commuting or business trips. Teleconferencing and telecommuting are both on the rise.
Green Days and similar initiatives aim at reducing the amount of time spent traveling to work. On green days employees can work remotely, while the rest of year they are encouraged to use public transport and hold inter-office meetings via videoconference. Green days are clearly a business argument.
Simple things like putting more plants around the office or creating a striking living wall can improve the air quality and reduce emissions of oxygen. According to a study published in Journal of Environmental Psychology, plants can also improve productivity. Many offices now have biophilic design elements that mimic the natural world. Google has installed skylights on its offices and covered them with wallpapers that imitate natural patterns. Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is called Spheres and has treehouses built by Microsoft for its Redmond campus.
Even though you don’t have to go all the way, biophilic principles can be a great source of inspiration for interior projects. Even small changes can make a big difference in sustainability. When you move or renovate a space, consider how you can make it more sustainable.
You are part of many supply chains, which must be audited to determine their environmental impact. Are you committed to reducing the pollution in your company? You might consider buying used office supplies such as printers or coffee makers. When choosing suppliers and supplies, consider sustainability a priority. Consider electricity providers that are powered by renewable energy sources. Purchase computers that are easily repaired and upgraded. Employ cafeteria foodservice providers who offer compostable packaging and many other meatless options.
Openly discuss your values and goals with suppliers, work towards long-term relationships, offer sustainability incentives, and try to use as little as possible. Before you can evaluate any supplier, you need to first define the criteria and the evaluation process that you will use. Nike has, for instance, created the Nike Sustainable Manufacturing and Sourcing Index that rates suppliers’ environmental friendliness.
This example shows that smart companies are already leading sustainability and it is now up to the laggards. It should be a priority right now. The benefits for the company as well as the environment will grow over time.