It’s hard to write a blog on greening the office because everyone has such a different understanding about what this means. Some people think it’s about calculating and then reducing your carbon footprint. Others think office sustainability means using less paper or switching to recycled printer paper. Still others think office sustainability has to do with getting chair massages in the break room, offering healthier foods in the vending machines, flexible work schedules, improving indoor air quality, installing solar panels or offering tele-commuting options. They’d all be correct–sustainability is, or can be, about all of these things–and more.
Office sustainability is about creating a work culture of respect for others (colleagues and clients) AND the environment. It’s about creating a healthy, non-toxic environment that allows everybody to feel good and perform optimally day-in and day-out.
Business owners often worry that going green will cost them money or make them look unprofessional. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good sustainability strategy will involve a thorough review of where you are wasting money AND wasting resources. The two often go hand in hand. You will create a strategy for reducing paper use (don’t decree it, make sure to obtain buy in from staff) and reduce energy consumption. You will create a strategy for saving money on these unnecessary expenditures. Now that’s just good business.
On the health/happiness/productivity side of things, did you know that more people in the U.S. have heart attacks on Mondays than on any other day of the week? People feel more stressed out on Mondays, they feel less healthy and happy at work and are less productive. What if you allowed people to come into work just one or two hours later on Mondays? What if you created a once-a-week telecommuting opportunity? Your staff would be happier, healthier and it’s been shown, more productive. It doesn’t work for every business, but it’s worth considering. It will save you money on sick days, in lost productivity and your staff will enjoy working for you even more than they already do! Again, good business.
I urge you to take a wide angle approach to office sustainability. Look to really solve problems and to involve the entire staff in the process. Working together we can create healthier more productive office environments, and do our part for the planet in the process.