Go green or your staff won’t be seen: Employees threatening businesses

Sustainability continues to be at the forefront of our lifestyle and culture, as awareness of the actions of past and present generations catch up with severe consequences – and it now needs to be a key area of focus for workplaces. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so making offices sustainable should be a priority for all companies. 

As staff return to the office post-COVID, they are demanding that firms take action to ensure their workplaces are eco-friendly. In the current environment of labour shortages and the desire to work from home, staff are warning businesses that if they don’t improve their approach to sustainability they won’t return to the office and they’ll look for a job elsewhere.

Our business has been implementing sustainable operating practices for many years. In fact, we will soon be rolling out a new private office and coworking model that is powered by renewable energy and supports 100 percent recycling of all waste and used materials. Our sustainable business hubs will be rolled out across the country with our first in Queensland.

How can firms make workspaces more sustainable?

All offices should be making a commitment to going green. There are so many ways that companies can make a difference, many of which are so easy to roll out, that everyone can jump on board. Here are some innovative ways offices can go green without a lot of effort. 

Literally going green

Bringing plant life into the office is one of the easiest things you can do, and the benefits are boundless. Having bits of greenery in the office space has been linked to workers being more productive, less stressed and healthier. Indoor plants also improve air quality and instantly add beauty to an office that can otherwise lack personality. On a similar note, letting natural light into an indoor space isn’t just an economic benefit, it’s a natural enhancer of human life.

Our bodies are linked intrinsically to circadian rhythms pertaining to the light cycles of day and night. Indoor light is actually a major disruptor of our body’s circadian rhythms. 

Office task force for environmentalism

Set up a sustainability team with the goal is to raise awareness and set up achievable actions and goals for all workers to participate. The team could perhaps create monthly green challenges like keeping tabs on the numbers of reusable coffee cups being brought into the office everyday. It’s also a great way to liven things up at the office to have something a bit more fun, and everyone loves a bit of competition, especially if there’s a prize involved!

Power saving electronics

Tech has come a long way and many office machines are now manufactured using recycled elements. They also use less power when operational and go into sleep mode when not in use. Remove old energy guzzling machines and replace them with more efficient models.

Turn machines off when they are not in use. If you are able to turn your computer off instead of letting it go into sleep mode, this is even better. This saves 40 watts of power per day.  Multiply this by many people the positive impact on the plant is considerable. Ensure your lights are power saving. Convert lights to sensor lights to ensure power is being minimised.

The 3Rs: Reduce, reuse and recycle

Back to basics: do you remember your 3Rs? Reduce, reuse and recycle. Make sure offices are equipped with products that make it accessible for people to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce: it may not be possible to go completely paperless, but where can you reduce paper wastage? Clients are used to e-documents many firms are able to reduce their paper trail.

Reuse: provide cutlery in the office kitchen and encourage workers to use them instead of taking disposable cutlery when they buy meals at lunch time. Encourage workers to bring a reusable coffee cup on their coffee breaks to the café around the corner. It’s estimated that over one billion disposable coffee cups are still being sent to the landfill each year. If we each do our bit and remember to bring a reusable cup, we can make lasting impacts on our planet.

Recycle: beyond just recycling paper, companies can think outside the box and implement recycling for printer cartridges and toners, batteries and old mobile phones. You can even recycle stationery such as used pens, markers, correction tape and mechanical pencils.

Put a stop to food wastage

Food that’s thrown in the bin ends up in the landfill. In Australia, it’s estimated that 7.6 million tonnes of food across the supply and consumption chain is wasted. This works out to over 300kg of food waste per person. Food waste occurs in the office in a variety of ways.

For example, with the greatest of intentions, you bring a salad for lunch, but then there’s a meeting in which food is ordered. Chances are, that salad will be binned, when it could easily be taken home and eaten for dinner. Having small initiatives like a community shelf for food sharing in the office is an easy and effective way to target food wastage.

Eco-friendly cleaning products

Offices need to be cleaned regularly. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products is just another simple change to make,  but can make a difference. There is such a great range of eco-friendly, natural based products in the market these days, it’s easy to get the office clean without any of those unnecessary nasty chemicals that pollute the environment.

Working together for the future

Every person has a duty to reduce their eco-footprint for the sake of the future of the planet. If everyone did their bit to be more sustainable, all the efforts would come together for a better future. Adults spend so much of their lives at work so it’s vital for us to go green in the office wherever possible. We can do that by working together and encouraging each other. 

Jenny Folley is the founder and CEO of @WORKSPACES, Australia’s leading premium brand of coworking and private office spaces with offices across the country and overseas.