What changes will the workplace need to make to be sustainable?


Sustainability is very much at the forefront of our thinking right now. With the effects of climate change being seen around the world, governments, businesses and individuals have all been exploring new ways of reducing their environmental impact.

Here at Business Leader, we’ve taken a closer look at what changes need to be made in the workplace to make them sustainable.

Switch to renewable energy

Switching to renewable energy sources decreases the reliance on gas and electricity, which are typically produced using fossil fuels.

In 2018, 89% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry, so the further businesses can get away from them, the better it will be for the environment.

There is a wealth of renewable energy sources available and utilising them properly can lead to significant environmental benefits. For instance, wind turbines are ideal for many of the coastal areas in the UK; south-facing business premises will also maximise the benefits of a solar panel system.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offers a Big Clean Switch service where businesses can check whether they could save by switching to more eco-friendly energy.

Engaging with employees

Engaging with employees and discussing ways for how the business can operate more sustainably is a great way to get your staff on board and explore a range of sustainability ideas.

There’s a good chance that they would have thought of something that you haven’t thought of, and getting their input is the perfect chance for them to embrace any ideas you have on the issue and drive your sustainability agenda forward.

You could also create monthly green challenges with your employees. For example, you can challenge them to go a whole month without using any single-use plastics and give small prizes to those who complete the month successfully.

Get some plants into the workplace

Research from NASA has shown that indoor plants reduce 87% of indoor air pollutants, like carbon dioxide and formaldehyde, within 24 hours. They can also improve oxygen levels.

Getting some plants for your workplace can uplift the atmosphere and make it more appealing. Office plants can also reduce the stress and anxiety levels of your workforce.

Encourage staff to travel more sustainably

There are many ways to do this, and you can pick the most suitable options for your business and employees.

Cycle to Work schemes are quite common and they reduce the costs of a bike and accessories for your employees and help them to stay fit if they cycle to work. When employees who drive to work take up this type of scheme, it also means fewer cars on the road, so CO2 emissions are significantly lowered.

Another option you might consider is installing your own EV charging point, giving those who already own an electric car a chance to charge their vehicle and possibly encouraging those who don’t to swap a petrol or diesel vehicle for a more sustainable one.

Electric cars can have a significant effect on the air quality within towns and cities, and in just over a year, one electric car saves 1.5 million grams of CO2 from the atmosphere on average.

Seek out more sustainable suppliers

Whether it’s for office supplies, building materials or more generic equipment, most business owners are reliant on suppliers to allow for the smooth day-to-day running of their business.

But is your current supplier the most eco-friendly option available? Do they take steps to minimise the number of deliveries they need to make in a day? Do they use hybrid or electric vehicles, or take other measures to reduce their environmental impact?

If the answer to these questions is no, maybe it’s time you sought out a supplier who can fulfil both your practical needs and help you meet your sustainability targets.

Keep an eye on the office thermostat

In many offices and workspaces, maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout the year is thanks to air conditioning units and heating systems. Whilst both are often essential for allowing employees to work comfortably and more productively, they consume a lot of energy and fossil fuels.

However, simply turning the AC up and the heating down by a single degree whenever you use them can significantly reduce your energy usage and save your business money.

Going paperless?

There are many who claim that going paperless will have a positive impact on the environment, but the reality is that sustainably sourced paper is not the drain on the environment that many claim it is.

As it turns out, the paper, pulp and print sector is responsible for just 0.8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, 62% of the energy consumed by the European pulp and paper industry comes from renewable energy sources.

However, the ICT industry currently accounts for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions and this is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040 because of our ever-growing digital world.

Using paper also encourages the long-term growth of forests through sustainable forest management, provided it comes from sustainable sources. But ensure that if you do stick with using paper, you ensure to recycle it where you can!