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Work Sustainability – What does it really mean?

Ensuring a sustainable workplace is a must, so here are the most important areas to tackle in you workplace.

Jan 24, 2020

Of course, being ‘Green’ is a major factor here – recycling in your kitchens, choosing suitable (local) partners to procure goods and services from, turning off the lights when the building is empty, etc. But is there more to it than that? 

Every company should aim to be more sustainable and here are 5 main areas to focus on, and our ideas for improvements: 
    1.     Leadership
    2.     Energy
    3.     Natural Environment
    4.     Materials Management
    5.     Food & Wellbeing


#1 – Leadership

A sustainability strategy, and annual goals, should be set by the top. Does your company have a Sustainability Strategic Plan? It is important to have a plan in place that can be rolled out across your organisation, and have workplace representatives who meet regularly to ensure everything is being done to meet the targets.

Include the topic of sustainability in your HR processes – Inform and educate new hires on your policies, what your goals are and how they are achieved. Also consider making sustainability targets part of annual employee performance reviews – set and monitor personal goals.

#2 – Energy

Walking past most business areas of any city, during the night, can create a lot of frustration. We have probably all asked –

“Why does that office have all of its lights on, when there is clearly no one there?!”

Energy saving bulbs, motion sensors, and timers are pretty standard things in the modern office. But not everyone even has these!

So, what else can you do? Things like reducing unnecessary travel by using video calls, can save a lot of money and drastically reduce your organisations carbon footprint. There are so many tech solutions for video conferencing now, that there really isn’t a need to meet face-to-face, every single time.

Office temperature is another area to be conscious of. Do you know how to control your office temperature? Does your team close the windows at the end of the day? Does your facilities manager know if the office will be empty for long periods of time, so they can shut off aircon or heating? There are plenty of things to consider in and around your workspace.

#3 – Natural Environment

If you were to ask your employees how they travelled to work. What would they say? Do 50% or more travel alone by car? This is most likely.

Transportation options for employees are rarely considered by companies when thinking about sustainability plans. It’s really important though, because 300 people coming to your building every day can create a lot of pollution for the environment.

Perhaps you can promote ride-sharing schemes, bike purchasing loans and financial incentives to invest in annual travel cards for public transport, instead.

Also, don’t forget to encourage ‘work from home’ and remote working options!

#4 – Materials Management

Reducing paper use, has been an active ‘Go Green’ strategy for over a decade in many companies. With the help of technology, it was a quick win on the road to a more environmentally friendly workplace. Nowadays, it is a basic effort – and simply not enough. Do you have a system that minimizes the number of office supply deliveries? Is the paper you do use, recyclable? What happens to all of the pens that you use and throw away?

There are a lot of ‘things’ in and around a business, so it is important to catalogue your items and try to find ways to make them more sustainable. Buying used office furniture, instead of new, is one option – or leasing it. Renting artwork and reception area soft furnishings, can also help to increase the lifetime of products, as they are used and shared, over and over again.

#5 – Food & Wellbeing 

Sweden runs on coffee! All of the stats show that Sweden is one of the largest consumers of coffee in the world. But how many companies make an effort to only buy in coffee that is both organic and from fairly traded, sustainable sources?

Food and water consumption are two of the major sustainability issues facing the world today and inside of businesses, it is important to highlight and find solutions that contribute to addressing the problems in these areas.

Workplaces that provide bottled water and not refillable bottles, are missing a big opportunity to step up their sustainability game. Green certified cleaning products for the services teams, also will help. Reusable plates, cups and cutlery should be available in all restaurant and kitchen areas for employees.

Thank you!