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Should you be returning to a greener office?

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of human life. While the impact is consequences are mainly regarded as negative, the impact on the natural environment has been the exception.

Environmental awareness has been amplified by the perception of the benefits of living in a cleaner world. The reduction in pollution during the weeks of full lockdown allowed many people to see first-hand the increased quality of life and wellbeing that comes with breathing cleaner air and taking time to take notice of the world around us.

Enforced remote working has encouraged debate around the sustainability of businesses, office space and commercial property, sparking a change in the way we think about the office and the way we interact with our environment every day.

With the prediction that a greater number of people will balance a work-from-home and work-from-the-office mix, business owners have far more options to create smarter, greener working practices.

Here are just a few changes that you can consider implementing.

Embrace technology

Businesses can incorporate more technology to help improve sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. For example, printing. It’s a good idea to set up a print policy such as forcing your devices to only print in black and white unless specifically requested. You can also activate print reporting so that you can understand who is printing what, where, when and how much. This data will help you identify usage and potentially tackle areas of high wastage.

Workflow software has been proved to cut down on the need for printing and also helps to include the work completed by staff that are working remotely. It can transform how you store, access and action your data, simultaneously increasing both security and business agility. Smart buildings reduce any environmental footprint by ensuring that space and resources are used efficiently. Integrated technologies such as intelligent lighting will adapt and mimic natural daylight, automatically turning off when the office is empty. Temperature can be controlled on a room-by-room basis dramatically reducing your energy usage and costs.

You can also set up your office equipment to work more efficiently. For instance, you can correct your settings to put screens in standby mode after a certain period without activity. You can decrease the screen’s brightness and even get laptops into energy saving mode.

Did you know you can use green web hosting services? The servers that host a website’s data are constantly on, using up copious amounts of energy. Luckily, companies can choose where their data is stored. More and more, eco-conscious companies are offsetting that energy usage to go carbon neutral. 

Check the eco credentials of your suppliers

Using a supplier who can meet your standards for environmental and social issues can help you reduce your impacts through your supply chain.

One of our suppliers of office furniture, Senator, recycle all packaging and furniture waste through their Sustain recycling facility. This is where they strip down and separate furniture and packaging so that the valuable resources can be saved from landfill, and eventually go on to have a new life. Fully licensed to recycle waste material, The Senator Group are a shining example of how a UK based company went one step further than carbon neutral to carbon negative. This means that they don’t just offset their carbon footprint, they’ve actually reduced their carbon footprint below zero.

Develop eco-friendly habits

Air quality dramatically improved in some of the world’s biggest cities just two weeks into lockdown. Dangerous PM2.5 air pollution dropped by 34% in London due to reduced activity; a compelling case for businesses to maintain more eco-friendly habits, and there are financial benefits too according to an industry trends report from UKGBC.

  • Companies actively managing their carbon emissions enjoy 18% higher return on investment than those who don’t.
  • Companies actively planning for climate change by setting commitments to science-based targets and publicly disclosing climate change impacts on their businesses see 67% higher returns than companies who are not.
  • Businesses that take proactive steps to promote employee wellness can improve their financial performance by up to 10% and reduce sick days by 27%.
  • Increasing natural spaces can increase property and land values by as much as 25%.

Sustainability will be an important part of any company’s ethos if they are looking to recruit from Generation Z, a generation that are going to be at the forefront of post-pandemic green revolution. Subtlety is out and ‘in your face’ eco-credentials are the way forward. Things like organised carpooling, cycling, the provision of electric bicycles, walking and electric car charging points are all top of the list.

No more plastic fantastic

Humans produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year. By focusing on reducing the amount we use, promoting alternatives and recycling whenever possible, businesses can reduce their environmental impact. Every year, the average office worker uses approximately 156 plastic water bottles and throws away 500 coffee cups. Using reusable water bottles and mugs requires fewer natural resources, reduces your business’ carbon footprint, and lessens the amount of waste that fills landfills, oceans, and the environment.

Green Clean

It’s becoming better recognised that using conventional cleaning products releases harmful chemicals into the environment, which is not healthy for your workforce, or the planet. In fact, dangerous cleaning products can also contribute to high pollution indoors, impacting both you and your employees. Consider changing your cleaning routine by purchasing eco-friendly cleaning products or employing an eco-friendly cleaning company. You can also rest assured knowing that by using natural, eco-friendly products you’re also contributing to the reduction of waste because many eco-products use less packaging and more sustainable manufacturing processes.

Align with nature

Introduce plants to the office. You can so this with individual plants, ‘living walls’ of plants and even plants that work well as a natural divider. Not only are plants lovely to look at but they also improve your air quality thanks to their ability to purify the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. 

Biophilia is the human desire to seek connections with nature, so bringing plants into the office also promotes a greater sense of wellbeing in your employees.

In conclusion

Every company has an impact on the planet. It’s up to us to decide what level of impact we contribute. Whilst every business’ journey to becoming environmentally sustainable is unique, so is the opportunity we have been given in this post-pandemic world.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a one-person business or a big corporate, everyone has a part to play in taking account of changing our individual carbon footprints to reverse the effects of climate change.