With the Coronavirus continuing to ravage normal working conditions, there is already a lot for HR Departments to busy themselves with. But could sparsely populated offices offer the opportunity to create a better working environment? There is still the fight against Climate Change and establishing environmental sustainability in the workplace would be a fresh beginning.
According to Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”. It is particularly accurate when it comes to corporate efforts to battle Climate Change. Having a variety of individual green workplace initiatives leaves efforts vulnerable to waning enthusiasm and the development of apathy.
Achieving sustainability in the workplace is the best way of creating a cleaner, greener culture at work that will last. And arguably it provides the best foot on which to restart when the current crisis recedes.
What Is A Sustainable Workplace?
A sustainable workplace is one whose culture and everyday operation produce a negative carbon footprint. While any workplace can become ‘greener’, it does not mean they have become environmentally sustainable; a change in culture is what makes the difference.
Sustainability is now as a key part of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which in turn is an important part of company branding. In fact, according to a 2019 survey of workers carried out by HP:
- 61% said they believed workplace sustainability is mandatory
- 46% said they would work only for companies who are green-conscious
- 58% said environmentally conscious practices are key to engaging future workforce
A report by McKinsey examined the socioeconomic impact Climate Change over the next three decades, in which Global Institute Director Jonathan Woetzel stated that like information systems and cyber-risks currently, “… climate change and its resulting risks will also need to feature as a major factor in decisions”.
How To Create Sustainability In The Workplace
- Cut The Paper Fix
- Organise Employee Events Virtually
- More Light, More Plants
- Cut The Commute
- Culinary Sustainability
- Healthy Options
A modern office doesn’t need to use so much paper, especially when an average UK office worker uses about 10,000 sheets annually. E-paper systems provide a workable alternative that offer convenience and sustainability in the workplace. Most HR tasks can be done electronically, from employee leave management to team collaboration to communication.
You might need to organise specific employee events, whether they are training initiatives, customer engagement or product promotions. Make arrangements electronically: email invites; use video conferencing; secure confirmations via electronic forms; share schedules via apps.
Make your working environment greener and brighter by introducing more plants and more natural light. It’s called biophilic design, and while Google and Amazon have invested millions into it, even modest alterations can boost productivity. According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, plants boost productivity, while Cornell University showed more natural light leads to 51% fewer incidents of eyestrain, a 63% fewer headaches and 56% less drowsiness
The daily commute has been shown to have a negative impact on employees and the environment. Motivation is injured by the daily drudge associated with long journeys, while higher carbon emissions hurt the environment. In fact, transportation accounted for 29% of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.
It also hits company finances, with fuel expenses claimed by travellers and often value-adding work from employees reduced. According to some US studies, a business could save $11,000 per person per year by initiating a work-from-home scheme.
Can meal-time add to the level of sustainability in the workplace? It can be if food packaging is bio-degradable – or at least recyclable. Check suppliers’ practices to see if their distribution and storage are at environmentally responsible. Are their sources responsible food processors?
And sticking with food, ensuring the meal and snack options available in the workplace is healthy also boosts your company’s sustainability rating. Besides, research shows that cutting out the junk food can boost productivity at work.
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