Every April 22, Earth Day gives people across the country the chance to recognize the importance of protecting our environment. It’s also a perfect time to figure out what you and your employees can do to make your office more environmentally friendly.
Here’s how to create a green office — and why doing so can benefit your organization.
What Does It Mean to Go Green?
Going green is all about committing to more ecologically friendly practices that conserve resources and create a better world for future generations. It’s not necessarily a specific outcome — it’s a mindset that you and your employees can carry with you throughout your average day.
Creating a green workplace can also boost your bottom line. Consider that a key part of going green means using fewer resources, from electricity and water to paper and ink. If you and your employees put in the effort, you may end up paying less for materials and utilities.
Adopting more environmentally friendly practices is a simple way to build your reputation with your customers, too. Nearly 75 percent of American adults agree that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” according to the Pew Research Center. When you make an eco-friendly switch — swapping paper receipts for digital ones, for example — back it up by mentioning your commitment to the environment in your marketing and communications.
Finally, don’t underestimate the effect a green workplace can have on workplace morale. Your employees are likely to care about environmental issues as much as your customers do. They will be proud to work for a company that takes these issues seriously, and chances are they’ll be eager to do their part.
7 Ways to Make Your Office More Environmentally Friendly
If you want to take action this Earth Day but you’re not sure where to start, use these simple steps as your inspiration.
- Unplug at the end of the day. At the close of business, have the last person in your office make sure all the lights, computers, printers and other electronics have been shut off. You could also set each computer to energy-saving mode and program them to shut down at some point in the evening. That way, they’ll automatically turn off no matter what.
- Switch to green materials. You can get the same performance out of environmentally friendly office materials like recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges, energy-efficient light bulbs and biodegradable cleaning supplies.
- Use digital records. While printing on recycled paper is a good start, going paperless has never been easier. Whenever possible, use electronic records for customer invoices, meeting notes and other documents. The information gets transferred just like normal, except you’re cutting down on paper, ink and electricity costs. Encourage employees to transfer information digitally and only print when it’s absolutely necessary.
- Recycle and reuse. Set up bins within easy reach of employees so they can properly dispose of paper, cans and other materials that can be recycled. Encourage bringing lunch in reusable containers, and rather than handing out bottles of water, offer employees a watercooler without paper cups. Ask them to use reusable water bottles or even consider giving them one from the company to call attention to Earth Day.
- Launch a casual dress code. When employees are dressed up, they tend to need more temperature control to feel comfortable. The cost of constantly blasting the heat or AC can add up. Switch to a casual dress code when possible, like on days without any customer or client interaction. If employees can wear short-sleeve shirts, they won’t get as hot in the summer — and in the winter, they’ll appreciate being able to come to work in a cozy sweater instead of a stiff button-up.
- Promote employee car pools. The average American worker spends 26.9 minutes on their daily commute, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If every employee takes their own car, that’s nearly an hour a day of driving per person. Reach out to your staff and see whether they would be interested in getting help coordinating a car pool system for people who live close together. If they can share the drive, that’s fewer cars on the road and emissions to match. As an added bonus, employees will save on gas and wear-and-tear on their vehicles.
- Allow employees to work from home. While employees carpooling to work is a great initiative, work-from-home days are even better for the environment. Think about allowing employees to work remotely when they aren’t physically needed in the office, or change up your staff’s schedule entirely. One option could be to have your staff work longer hours in the office four days a week rather than come in for a standard five-day work week. They’ll spend the exact same amount of time working but shave a full day off of their weekly commute.
Earth Day is a reminder that we could all do more to protect the environment. By following these tips, you’ll ensure your office does its part to reduce its impact on the planet and become part of the solution.
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