Considering we spend about a fifth of our lifetime at work, it’s worthwhile thinking about how we can make our workplace better both for ourselves and the environment.
Sustainability in the workplace is much more than using energy-saving bulbs and recycling — it’s an holistic approach to creating a general sense of wellbeing in a workplace that cares for both people and the environment.
Although this might seem a difficult concept to introduce to small and medium size businesses because of the limited resources available, it doesn’t have to be that expensive.
As Human Resources Strategist, Therese Ravell of Impact HR states, it’s been proven that employees who share their organisation’s values are more likely to perform better and stay longer in the company.
As an experienced consultant in helping small and medium size businesses, Therese suggests ten low-cost yet effective ideas to improve sustainability in your Australian workplace.
1. Change Your Team Habits
Big changes start with small steps. Motivate your team to change their everyday habits in favour of eco-friendly choices.
Replace disposable coffee cups with reusable mugs, add recycling bins and managed sanitary bins to the office, use prompt them to print less. They will feel motivated to do something useful for themselves and the planet.
2. Create Green Spaces
Having plants in your indoor environment will help clean the air and improve the general mood – and of course it will make the office look prettier. Encouraging your employees to take care of the plants will make them feel more responsible and involved.
3. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Create a recycling culture within your team and if possible, give each of them a specific task to help recycling in the office.
Some ideas could be installing and checking the usage of recycling bins, managing the printer by making sure everything gets printed double sided and printer cartridges gets refilled when necessary, collect used batteries and recycle them (even better switch to rechargeable batteries) and making sure the food waste is kept to a minimum.
4. Introduce Flexible Work Policy
Giving flexible working conditions to your employees is another great step towards sustainability.
For instance, working from home has considerable advantages both for employees and the environment – it will help them have a more productive workspace and it will cut down the carbon emission they would normally produce on their commute to work.
5. Have a Weekly Office Food Shopping Expedition
Ever thought about doing an office food shopping? Most of us will probably spend their lunch break at work so why not planning the week meals together with your team.
Doing a common food shopping trip will help your employees saving money and time and it will also make them feel good about their food choices.
6. Stay Online
Minimise paper waste as much as you can. This will not only help the environment but it
will also save you money when using the office printer.
Try and manage work activities such as reading reports, sending invitations, taking meeting notes and sending documents online. Having online meetings and conference calls also helps when it comes to reduce pollution and save money on travelling.
7. Get Them Involved
Your team involvement is key to their retention. Motivate them to take part in eco-friendly initiatives such as managing the kitchen waste smartly, taking part in Australian Recycling Week and carpooling.
You can also get creative with your team building activities – ever thought about organising a gardening workshop or a green week challenge for your team?
8. Manage Your Office’s Energy Consumption
Keeping the energy levels of your office equipment under control is useful, especially when it comes to reducing your electricity bills. Ask your team to switch off their equipment overnight and shut everything down during long weekends and holiday periods.
When buying new laptops and technology equipment for the office, make sure to do some research beforehand and choose the best energy efficient items within your price range. Once your equipment is out of use, recycle it to minimise landfill.
9. Start Acting Local
Transport and energy costs are reduced considerably when you buy locally made products. Have you ever thought about where the tea and coffee you buy come from? By buying local products you will decrease production costs and you will support companies with a similar ethos to your own business.
10. Sharing is Caring
Having a sustainable working environment also means saving financial resources that could be invested somewhere else within the business. Encourage your employees to share their ideas about how to save energy in the office and attract more socially-engaged customers. Make sure you reward the ones who have the best ideas – even better with something eco-friendly such as a plant or a reusable coffee mug.
These are some general tips that you can take as an inspiration and adapt to your own workplace. By doing your best to improve your employee working conditions and your own work environment, you’ll be more likely to attract a stronger and more reliable workforce.
Therese Ravell is the Director of Impact HR, an innovative HR consultancy for SMEs based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Passionate about people, performance and profitability, Impact HR’s tailored approach will ensure each business receives the right help to grow and manage their workforce.
If a healthy and environment-friendly workplace is what you want, contact Alsco today for workplace solutions for your business.