Keeping up with current events in 2020 has been a minefield, with more negative news than we can handle. Even in the depths of COVID-19, there’s a lot of gloom and doom around climate change.
So much so that it’s easy to think that the world around us is in steep decline and there’s not a thing we can do about it. But this couldn’t be further from the truth…
The recent fires in and around San Francisco are a frightening sight. But even more concerning is the familiarity that goes along with it, reminding us of the widespread inferno in Australia earlier in the year.
We could almost be forgiven for thinking that there is not a thing we can do about it. (And is it any wonder that experts have coined the term eco-anxiety to describe the panicky feeling caused by news about climate change?!)
But, thankfully, it’s not all gloom and doom! And there’s a lot that each of us can do to help reduce the effects of climate change – and one of the biggest ways we can have an impact is in the office.
Not only does creating a green office have a positive impact on the planet, it’s also good for business.
The term ‘green office’ means reviewing and revising your current work practices with a view to creating an environmentally responsible workplace. This includes areas such as reducing energy, water and paper usage, as well as considering how to create behaviour change within your business.
Of course, initiatives like reducing paper usage and saving energy, by their very nature, are likely to bring about tangible $ savings.
There are also a number of significant competitive advantages to businesses adopting a green ethos that impact businesses in less obvious ways:
Employees are increasingly looking for businesses with values are aligned to their own. As such, all businesses need to adopt a solid moral and social foundation, or risk being left behind in the war for talent.
Employees are twice as likely to work for an organisation that balances financial performance with empathy in their decision making, as this Mercer report found.
Consumers want to spend their money with companies that match their values, increasingly saying that they want brands to embrace purpose and that includes sustainability.
Overall, companies see marked improvements in all these areas when they start operating more sustainably. Who would have thought?!
Think about the millions of CVs streaming out of printers all over the world. And the shift of seismic proportions should all recruiters realise that paper CVs are no longer essential.
When you stop and think about it, it’s not just your office that will make a difference, but all offices combined have the power to make an impactful change.
Implementing green initiatives in the office doesn’t need to be a top-down approach. In fact, green programs have a high likelihood of success when initiated and driven by passionate employees.
There has already been a huge shift in the way company founders and directors are thinking about the working world, which is great for all of us. While many of us are still working from home, it’s actually the perfect time to start helping your business to go green.
Simple things like considering how much paper you use and becoming more aware of energy usage (at home, and in the office, once you return), can actually have a huge impact, especially when done by many.
With every change we make in our own lives for the sake of the environment, we go a small way to collectively creating a greener future.
One person who knows this space inside-out is Elly Both, Founder of Bright Green, a Sustainability consultancy specialising in driving green initiatives for businesses. Elly recommends taking a simple approach to planning sustainability initiatives in your workplace:
What does your business do well in terms of sustainability? And where could it improve? Are people engaged in making an impact on sustainability? What is the approach to energy/paper/energy usage? Does your office have a recycling program in place? And do people know how to use it effectively? Once you have a detailed understanding, you can start to plan how to approach the change.
Executive support is vital, especially to help with any roadblocks that may arise. Most initiatives that can be implemented in your office may relatively low-cost (some even free!), but there may be some capex expenditure required. Sharing the benefits and return on investment of these initiatives will support your program.
Start with the low-hanging fruit (energy, paper, waste reduction, and recycling, for example). From there you can work up to the more involved areas, like creating cultural change in your workplace.
Bright Green works with businesses to develop and implement green initiatives in corporate office premises. “First, we conduct a deep dive to understand the specifics of how a particular business is operating, and then make recommendations for change. Some will be more straightforward, short-term changes, and others might be complex and longer term, such as behavioural and cultural change”, Elly says.
Elly set up Bright Green with the goal of making a difference, inspiring and educating people to reduce their environmental impact.
As an ex-Recruiter herself, she knows how to support recruitment businesses to make simple changes to make effective reductions in a business’ carbon footprint.
But even when businesses are keen to reduce their environmental impacts, there can be challenges in driving that change. Especially those where profits take a priority over ‘nice to haves’.
“This short-term view could mean that businesses are missing out on the other benefits of creating a green workplace, such as ease of attracting and retaining employees.”Elly Both of Bright Green
Supporting on these initiatives empowers those within the company to drive the evolution and ensures the message is front of mind.
Green initiatives such as energy conservation, paper reduction, waste reduction, and recycling programmes, are all underpinned by education and communication with the workforce to ensure a high degree of success.
Elly recommends setting up a team of internal champions who are passionate about sustainability and have the energy and commitment to drive this change.
While based in Singapore, Bright Green operates very much internationally, so wherever you’re based, it’s easy to go green!
Every business needs to answer the question:
“What are you doing for the world right now?”
There’s never been a better time to start looking after the planet.
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