Use our 9 office sustainability ideas to create a greener workplace. There are simple changes and business practices you can implement today that will help your business prioritize sustainability.
Our planet’s climate is changing. With temperatures on the rise due to humanity’s carbon emissions, the coming decades are expected to bring more droughts and heatwaves, a rise in our sea level, and stronger, more intense hurricanes. While on the surface these changes may not seem serious, they do have severe impacts on our quality of life. If humanity does not act soon, we can expect less access to fresh water, increasing transmission of disease from insects, continued deterioration of our infrastructure, limited fresh food supply, along with many other environmental consequences.
Businesses must lead by example and make the sustainability of our planet a top priority.
Businesses can make a big difference due to the amount of waste an office produces. According to National Geographic, 91% of plastic is not recycled. Consider how much plastic your office generates each day. How many of your staff use plastic water bottles, drink cans of soda, or use disposable plastic containers for their food?
As a business owner or office manager, you have the ability to make sustainable choices in the workplace. The decisions you make determine the impact your business has on the environment.
There are a number of small changes and initiatives you can implement today. By following these environmental practices in the workplace, you can begin to make positive changes one step at a time.
It’s not enough to have recycling bins available if no one is using them. Make sure recycling is a priority across your office and organization. Take the time to share practices with your team and always fill in new employees, so the message doesn’t get lost.
If your building doesn’t offer a recycling program, reach out to building owners to find out why. Is it something they could start? Is there a local city pickup you could take advantage of?
If all else fails, create one yourself. Clearly label separate bins or boxes for employees to dispose of their waste and organize their recycling. Do some research and find out where your local recycling center is. Create a rotating system of volunteers to drive the recycling to the center as needed.
Add signage above your recycling bins, so your employees know where to recycle and what to recycle. You can list appropriate recyclable items or sorting details on all signage so that there’s no confusion for anyone new to your space.
Recycling improperly is about as bad as not recycling at all. Research your city’s recycling practices and pass on the information to your employees. Putting the wrong items in the recycling or sorting your recyclables improperly can clog up expensive sorting equipment at recycling plants, causing delays, injuring workers, and contaminating other recyclable material. Ensure everyone in your office is aware of recycling best practices, as well as the dos and don’ts of recycling.
Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it.
A little humor can inspire your team to follow recycling practices.
Ensure your staff understands the consequences of living unsustainably, and consider what rewards or incentives you can offer staff hesitant to participate. Get every employee involved by setting goals and rewarding recycling successes.
Start a sustainability challenge. If you share your building with other organizations, suggest a contest to see which office can collect the most recycling, or create a contest within your own organization.
Ask your team for ideas on how to make the workplace more sustainable and ask them how they would like to be rewarded. Bring your employees into the discussion so that you’re not operating in a vacuum; they will know best how they’d like to be motivated.
What are your office practices for turning off lights, tech, and other equipment when no one is around? If you don’t have any, implement a specific plan to ensure anything that’s not in use isn’t draining power. Not only is it good for the environment, but it will save your business money by extending the life of your electronics and reducing your utility bill.
Don’t waste power. If you’re not using it, turn it off. Make it company policy. Communicate clearly with your team so that everyone knows the policies around powering the office down for the night or weekend.
It’s natural to feel a little chilly in the winter and a little warm in the summer—it’s the reality of changing seasons. Because of this, many offices and workplaces crank up the air conditioning in the summer and put the heat on full blast in the winter. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your company’s bottom line when it comes time to pay the utility bill.
Have a conversation with your staff about the temperature in the office and see what they’re comfortable with. Everyone’s relationship with temperature is different.
It’s okay to feel cooler in the winter—that’s what sweaters are for. And it’s okay to feel warmer in the summer—otherwise, you’re going to need to wear a sweater all summer to combat the air conditioning. Consider purchasing blankets and sweaters for the office so that during the winter, when an employee is cold, they can curl up under a cozy blanket rather than raise the heat for the entire office. When summer comes, ensure the office freezer is full of popsicles.
Consider your office inventory. What could be replaced with more sustainable products? You have a choice when it comes to the products you purchase. Make every effort as an office to make sustainable choices.
Where you can, choose recycled, biodegradable, and reusable products over one-use products—such as recycled paper products, biodegradable pens, compostable garbage bags, or green cleaning products.
Show your support to organizations that make sustainability a priority. It’s tough work implementing sustainable practices as a business. You know that. Work with other businesses that make it a priority, too, and be an example to other organizations considering making a green change. Ask prospective suppliers what their business practices are when it comes to the environment and offer them tools to become more environmentally conscious.
Our actions outside of the office also have a profound impact on the environment. Reduce your company’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of vehicles your employees are using to commute to work.
Encourage carpooling amongst your team and set rewards as an extra incentive. Carpooling will limit parking costs, and it will help your team get to know each other.
Support workers who choose sustainable ways to get to work. You can offer full or partial compensation for those who take public transit. If an employee walks or bikes to work, consider how you can reward that behavior to encourage others to do the same.
Don’t work alone—save the planet together with your colleagues.
Your team is your business’s most powerful asset, and the cohesiveness of your team can determine the success of your business. Strengthen your team’s bond with team building activities.
💡 Prioritizing team building in your workplace can help businesses boost morale, increase collaboration, and improve engagement. Learn more about Why Team Building Is Important and How We Do It.
Center your next team building activity on helping the environment. Consider planting trees with your team, taking your team to the nearest park to collect litter, or making something new out of recycled materials.
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