Nowadays, an office that’s not environmentally friendly is outdated and out of touch. To keep up with the rapidly changing industry and environment, companies need offices that are eco-friendly and prioritize sustainability. Along with benefiting the environment, having an eco-friendly office will give your business many other advantages.
In this article, we’ll look at why it’s essential to go green, the benefits of going green and some specific ways for companies to go green. So if you’re looking for ways to make your office more eco-friendly and more socially responsible, keep reading!
The Importance of Going Green
To understand how vital it is for your office to adopt environmental initiatives, we have to talk about what “going green” means. Going green involves learning an environmentally mindful lifestyle to protect our natural environment by conserving and preserving natural resources, habitats and biodiversity. On a practical level, to go green means to embrace a way of life that helps protect the environment by adopting eco-friendly habits like reducing, reusing and recycling items.
Ultimately, the primary goals of going green are:
Decrease resources consumption
Conserve forests and natural resources
Maintain Earth’s natural ecological balance so all living things can survive and thrive in their natural habitats
So why are these green goals essential? Of course, we all have a civic duty to protect and take care of the planet we live on, but there is an added social responsibility placed on businesses. Because businesses go through so many materials each year, they can make the most significant dent in reducing waste and conserving our resources.
Going green also comes with additional advantages for businesses. Check out the top three reasons your company should go green below.
In the grand scheme of things, going green is all about maintaining the health of the environment. Your company can positively impact the world by taking a more sustainable approach to business and incorporating eco-friendly practices into its everyday operations. While you can take more major steps toward sustainability, such as converting the building to an alternative form of energy like solar or wind, turning off all the lights in unused rooms can help your business avoid wasting electricity.
Regardless of what your office decides to do to become greener, taking measures to reduce the raw materials your company regularly consumes will help preserve natural resources. Sustainability helps protect our environment’s health and promotes economic and social development. Your business can make the world a better place for everyone by implementing sustainable methods.
2. Financial Savings
Because going green includes reducing waste, it can significantly improve a company’s overall efficiency while cutting down on total operating costs. By reducing, reusing and recycling materials, business leaders can prevent the waste of money and natural resources.
For example, turning off the building’s heat or air conditioning system overnight will save energy, cut down on utility costs and boost the business’s bottom line. Similarly, switching to digital file management and printing less will decrease paper usage and diminish the amount of money dedicated to buying printing materials. Consider buying refillable ink cartridges instead of single-use ones to save money and reduce the amount of plastic your company throws away.
3. Healthier Workplace Environment
In addition to protecting the Earth’s environment, going green will create a better office environment. The environmentally friendly changes your company makes may positively impact employees’ overall health and mood. Working in eco-conscious surroundings may even make them more motivated and productive.
Specifically, trading in your usual cleaning supplies for green cleaning supplies that contain fewer harsh chemicals can help workers who live with respiratory or other health-related conditions. Some common cleaning chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite, have a high level of toxicity. Swapping these cleaning supplies for green cleaning supplies, which mainly use natural substances like baking soda or lemons, can help prevent health complications often caused by harsh chemicals.
The Top 3 Benefits of a Green Office
While going green is crucial for our planet’s health, environmentally conscious offices bring additional benefits. Though there are a few upfront costs to going green, the following advantages of environmentally friendly offices demonstrate that the effort will be worth it.
1. Legal and Tax Benefits
As states increasingly begin tightening emissions allowances, going green can give your business some legal benefits. Incorporating green technology into your company’s operations can greatly reduce emissions and help you comply with your state’s standards. You can reap many other tax credits and incentives for going green, too.
Depending on where you’ve headquartered your company, you may be eligible for a sales tax exemption if you use solar energy systems, machinery, equipment and other renewable energy technologies. Along with some state benefits, going green can get you more green from the federal government. If your company uses solar or wind energy, you could earn a tax credit.
2. Happier Employees and Increased Productivity
Working in a green office will naturally enhance your employees’ moods and make the office more enjoyable. Typically, a green, energy-efficient office features more windows, increased natural light and better airflow, all of which contribute to a more pleasant environment to work in and boost employee health. Offices that include natural lighting, plants, adequate ventilation and nontoxic cleaning products reported a significant decline in the number of sick days taken by employees and a lower staff turnover rate.
Studies have also found that office employees with windows receive 173% more exposure to white light each workday and sleep an average of 46 more minutes per night than those without windows. This extra sleep can help employees focus better during the workday and bump up their productivity. Research has also shown that green offices can produce a 26% increase in workers’ cognitive thinking, with notable improvements in strategy, usage and crisis response.
Adding green touches to the office can also elevate efficiency. One study found that setting plants around an office can lead to a 15% increase in employees’ productivity. These results could be because plants help regulate humidity and air quality while making us feel calmer and relaxed.
Because higher employee happiness levels correlate with more efficient workers, a greener workspace can improve concentration and workplace satisfaction. By boosting workers’ cognition and physical and mental health, investing in greener practices will pay off for both your employees and your business overall.
3. Positive Public Response
Going green is also a significant corporate social responsibility (CSR) win for a company. Green companies and brands tend to be more appealing to consumers and job applicants, which means going green could increase new customers and overall sales. Because 86% of American consumers reported that they expect companies to be involved in some form of CSR or activism, businesses can earn a positive reputation by going green.
In particular, millennials tend to prefer more eco-friendly companies. In one survey, 75% of millennial respondents said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant working somewhere that practiced environmental and social responsibility. With both workers and consumers placing more value on environmentally responsible companies and products than ever, it makes good business sense for companies to double down on their sustainability efforts.
The positive public image going green projects means that in addition to saving your business money by decreasing waste, embracing eco-friendly company-wide practices can boost your brand perception, inspire a loyal customer base and generate more revenue for years to come. While increased profits and a positive public response shouldn’t be your company’s only motivation for going green, they are desirable side effects of sustainability and CSR.
6 Tips for Making Your Office Environmentally Friendly
Now that you know why businesses should go green, you may be wondering how to make your office more eco-friendly. If you’re looking for successful office sustainability initiatives, check out these green tips for offices.
1. Reuse and Recycle
You can swap plenty of office supplies for more sustainable options. For example, try asking employees to bring reusable cups from home instead of stocking the break room with disposable paper cups — you could even get everyone custom mugs with the company logo on them to boost team morale. Along with mugs, consider replacing disposables with real dishes, glasses and cutlery.
The coffee machine also offers plenty of opportunities to be sustainable. Switch to using coffee filters made from recycled paper or even replace the current coffeemaker with one that doesn’t require paper filters. To go the extra mile, compost the coffee grounds.
Along with reusing, be sure your company is recycling. Reminding everyone in your office to recycle regularly is one of the easiest ways to boost sustainability. Put recycling bins next to each trash can in the office, and post signs above the bins that clearly list the acceptable recycling items for your county.
2. Go Digital
Even better than recycled paper is no paper at all. Whenever possible, go paperless by encouraging staff members to keep documents digital instead of printing them out.
Because revisions, corrections and updates on printed documents comprise 90% of the country’s overall office’s waste, storing papers electronically instead of in filing cabinets will go a long way in reducing waste. If the U.S. decreased its use of paper by just 10%, it would slash greenhouse gas emissions by 1.45 million metric tons, which would be the same as removing 280,000 cars from the road for a whole year.
Companies can go paperless by taking advantage of digital options like e-statements, digital invoices, e-signature tools and automated payment systems. E-signing documents saves paper by eliminating the need to print agreements before signing them, allowing your business to save on storage space and ink. While an automated payment process can decrease paperwork by eliminating the need for physical checks, it can also make your business run more efficiently by streamlining the accounts payable process.
3. Support Green Commuting Efforts
Offering employees incentives for carpooling, taking public transit, walking or biking to the office is an ideal strategy for encouraging them to lower their commuting emissions. Organize a company-wide carpool by posting a signup sheet in a shared office space and sending reminder emails to employees. Along with being green, a carpool can be a positive employee bonding experience while saving them some gas money.
While you’re going digital, consider offering employees work-from-home opportunities. Allowing employees to work from home some days can help reduce employee travel and decrease your company’s carbon footprint.
4. Optimize Your Natural Lighting
Relying on natural more than artificial lighting whenever possible is an effective way to save energy. An eco-friendly office design should maximize natural light opportunities by moving any furniture blocking windows, removing bulky shades or even adding skylights. Increasing the amount of natural light in your office building will reduce energy consumption and save your business money on its utility bills.
Because natural light in the workplace helps aid multiple physiological functions, optimizing your office’s natural light will benefit your employees as well. Studies have shown that employees who sit within 10 feet of a window experience 84% fewer headaches and less eyestrain and blurred vision symptoms than those far from any natural light. While 77% of surveyed employees said natural lighting was essential to them, only 58% reported feeling satisfied with their office’s current lighting situation.
Aside from maximizing natural light, equipping each workstation with a smart power strip, changing all lighting fixtures to LEDs and setting office lighting up with sensors or timers are great strategies for conserving energy at the office.
5. Adopt Some Desk Plants
Bringing nature indoors is a fun way to practice sustainability. Adding some plants to your office’s layout is another simple way to improve the building’s air quality while enhancing its aesthetic and making the workplace homier. Because plants produce oxygen, they can offset any airborne chemicals and toxins circulating through your office’s indoor air, making your office a cleaner and happier place to work.
As a bonus, your new office plants will love soaking up all the natural light.
6. Buy Modular Furniture
As your company grows, you may be faced with the need for new office furniture configurations that accommodate your increasing staff. Because modular office furniture can be mixed and matched and reconfigured whenever your company grows, it’s ideal for environmentally minded businesses.
Rather than needing to replace your office furniture and workspaces each time your company experiences growth, modular office furniture allows you to add to and remove from your current setup. This flexibility gives you numerous options for rearranging your current furniture without needing to get rid of it.
Greener Office Furniture Options
When looking for green office furniture, find options that use recycled materials. Sustainable materials like recycled wood prevent depleting natural resources.
There are many alternative office furniture options that are eco-friendly. Before settling on your office furniture pieces, do some research. It’s more environmentally friendly if you can recycle the components when the furniture reaches the end of its life. Also, consider what would happen if the furniture withstands damage — would you have to get rid of it or could you easily repair it yourself?
How to Encourage Employees to Be Eco-Savvy
A sustainable office is more successful when its employees are eco-conscious. Adopting green practices into their work lives helps improve the overall sustainability in your office and can even carry over into their personal lives. There are many ways to encourage your employees to be more eco-savvy, though here are some great places to start:
Commit to energy conservation in the office: While switching to renewable energy sources might not be an option for you yet, there are many other ways your employees can help conserve energy in the office. For example, getting staff in the habit of unplugging electronics and turning off lights when they’re not in use can make a big difference in your energy consumption.
Implement a recycling program: Managing office waste with a recycling program can help make your office more environmentally friendly if your waste is handled properly. Be sure to train your employees on how to recycle certain materials and objects so everything is properly disposed of. Setting up a program with local recycling centers helps ensure your efforts are successful.
Offer incentives: Making major lifestyle shifts can be difficult without motivation. Consider offering incentives for employees who adapt to your eco-savvy workplace initiatives, like gifting bikers and walkers with company-branded water bottles. You could add to the fun by creating sustainability challenges for employees to complete so they have a goal to work toward with rewards for being eco-conscious.
Contact Arnold’s Office Furniture for Green Cubicle Solutions
If you’re thinking of making your office greener, Arnold’s Office Furniture provides green office design options that maximize natural lighting and allow space for environmentally conscious efforts like additional recycling or office plants.
At Arnold’s, we’ll work with you through the planning phase to come up with the most eco-friendly design possible, then stick with you through purchasing decisions, delivery, assembly and staging to ensure you get the green office you want. With modern solutions like the Sunline sliding cubicle series, which can easily slide open to let in more light or close for extra privacy, Arnold’s has the expertise to make your office functional and sustainable.
Alissa has over 25 years of experience in the office furniture industry. For many of those years, Alissa was a Senior Interior Designer. She then took her love of design and working with customers to the sales realm and has been dedicating her knowledge there ever since. Learn more about Alissa!