How to improve sustainability in the workplace

Leek office facing a workspace with a blue arch

Improving sustainability in the workplace means looking after the future of the environment, the economy and society.

When managing a business the benefits of increased sustainability vary depending on the individual business but most tend to agree that sustainability:

  • Demonstrates high Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Enables businesses to save money and increase profits in the long-term
  • Reduces staff turnover and improves talent acquisition

At Resolution Interiors, we’re focused on creating workspaces that work – which in today’s day and age means placing a high emphasis on sustainability.

Here are some of our simple tips for improving sustainability during the fit out process and beyond:

Product Life Cycle

Recycling may seem like the most obvious option in the conversation about sustainability but many workplaces do not actively engage with it as much as they could. Simple things like removing general bins near desks (where everything often gets thrown, recyclable or not) and making employees take their waste to a central area with recycling bins can improve recycling practices in a company.

Make sure you’ve also installed a variety of bins that allow employees to recycle as much of their waste as possible e.g. separate bins for food waste, paper waste, plastic waste etc.

Recycling doesn’t have to stop with waste, consider upcycling old furniture and décor into something that can continue to be used by the company or donating good-quality items to those in need.

Go Digital

Offices tend to use a lot of paper which also leads to a lot of waste. A 100% paperless office may be impractical for you right now but get as close to it as you can by making sure all of your meeting areas have digital facilities that can be used when employees need to collaborate or present to larger teams.

When you cannot avoid paper, opt for 100% recycled and reduce how many pages you need.

We’d also advise continuing to have virtual meetings as much as possible to make them more accessible for attendees who cannot be there in person, reduce travel expenses and emissions, as well as to facilitate flexible working practices that have become more popular since the pandemic.

Reward Employees

Even the most sustainability-conscious employees enjoy feeling appreciated for their efforts. Create targets and challenges around sustainability and reward employees accordingly. This can help to get everyone on board, keep employees accountable and keep up efforts consistently.

E.g. Hold company-wide step challenges that encourage more walking to work with less driving, or for those who cannot walk to work offer car-pool incentives that will help to reduce harmful emissions. Some companies have even explored an app that rewards employees for the amount they recycle in company bins.

Head office design and fit out

By actively encouraging employees to be better, your sustainability values will be crystal clear which can significantly support employee retention and talent acquisition.

Manage Energy

Workplaces need energy to function. Whether it’s energy for lighting, equipment or appliances – it’s unavoidable. But by being smarter about how you use energy you can reduce the drain on natural resources and reduce the overheads in your business.

Some of the best ways to manage energy in your workplace are:

  • Only use equipment and appliances with an energy rating of A or higher
  • Fully switch off any equipment that isn’t in use (particularly when the workplace is closed)
  • Make use of biophilic elements for lighting (natural light) and air quality (plants)
  • Install sensors that efficiently automate lighting, heating and conditioning

Spend Smarter

For all elements of sustainability (environment, economy, society), there are likely ways that you can spend smarter within the workplace.

Consider the businesses that are your vendors or part of your supply chain. Do they value sustainability? Are they an SME who can often provide a higher-quality service than larger brands? Evaluate who you are providing business to as a company and see if there are smarter choices to be made in everything from your stationery supplier to your refurbishment contractor. Even the UK government has pledged to ensure more business is rewarded to SMEs over the next few years since this will have vital benefits for the economy and local communities.

As well as your supply chains, look at where employee pensions are invested. Unfortunately, many investment portfolios primarily support companies involved with deforestation, unfair labour and other unappealing activities.

Look after your employees’ interests and demonstrate your CSR agenda by switching pensions over to sustainability-focused portfolios.

We’ve mentioned energy efficiency already, but when it comes to investing in equipment for the workplace you should be considering the life-cycle benefits for your business in the long run. While a piece of equipment may be more expensive than another right now, will it save you money in the long term with better longevity, easier repairs and cheaper running costs?

Support Others

An increasingly important part of sustainability for businesses is society. This means that to be truly considered as one of the top players in your industry, you need to invest time and effort into improving the community you’re in.

This can include elements such as providing plenty of volunteering opportunities and encouraging activism to allow your employees to get involved with green causes or helping out in the local community (in one company, this practice has actually reduced employee turnover to 4%).

Working with SMEs and finding other ways to support the local economy either through donations or events can be incredibly rewarding, not only for your credibility as a sustainable company but to grow the reputation of your brand overall.

Sustainability is on the minds of many employees, job hunters and investors so it’s in the interest of senior management and stakeholders to take notice and take action.

Take the first step to improve sustainability in your workplace with our commercial fit out and refurbishment service. Get in touch with our team to find out more.