These days, everyone seems to be talking about remote work. While there are obvious benefits to working from home, abandoning the office isn’t for everyone. If the office is here to stay, it’s about time it’s updated to meet the needs of today.
Those returning to the office are usually excited about seeing their colleagues again, and having all the tools and equipment they need to be productive. On the other hand, the dread of returning to the dreary office is why they want to work in a far more attractive cafe.
Even now in the 2020s, there’s not much to get excited about, unless you’re a fan of beige appliances and grey walls. It’s probably fair to say that you won’t get many complaints from employees about a potential splash of color, or initiatives to make the work experience a little more fun.
Even more important than the complete disregard for design is the incredible waste these offices typically omit. There are some obvious sinners – the paper doc that could’ve been sent as a PDF and the plastic cups that could easily be switched to a reusable water bottle.
The purpose of this article is to kill two birds with one stone – or more accurately, find a few ways offices can help save the earth and create a more exciting office environment. Let’s find out how everyone can win.
Things don’t have to be so gloomy. Let’s add some life to the office!
Add some green
One of our favorite ways of creating a sustainable office while making employees feel stress-free is by adding a few plants to the office. A potted plant on the desk can help staff feel more comfortable in their role. DGW Branded has hundreds of sustainable products that can be fully customized for your office. 50 Eco-friendly Promotional Products For All Business Needs might be just what you need to add the final touch to your office.
To take things up a notch, another great idea is to add some ‘living walls’ to the office. Some trails of ivy or perhaps a limited palette of carefully selected plants might get employees back to the office earlier than their start time (at the very least, hybrid workers might be seen more frequently at their desks). Don’t just take our word for it – studies show that plants absorb airborne pollutants (which are rampant with off-gassing office furniture), and emit healthy negative ions and oxygen into the air.
Add some glass to your space
Disclaimer: We know this isn’t possible for every business but it is an innovative way of reducing energy waste. Replace low-quality, single-insulation windows with double or even triple insulated ones. It helps keep the office at the same temperature for longer – once the thermostat’s temperature has been reached, it can then be turned off (or on low) and the room should remain at a stable temperature.
An additional benefit of replacing the windows is that you can finally replace the archaic panels that have been an office Staple since the 80s. Small cramped and isolated windows can be replaced with big, bright panels that fill the office space with natural light. This is brilliant for employee wellbeing – only a lunatic prefers artificial light to the real thing. It’s also a further energy-saver by eliminating the need for a million lightbulbs just for employees to see their keyboards.
Big, bright windows can make the office a far more enjoyable place to be – oh, and it’ll help save the planet at the same time.
Make traveling fun (and competitive)
There are arguments why remote work is the most environmentally-friendly way of operating a business. There’s no need for all that office space and all those cars that clog up the road would suddenly vanish. That’s true to an extent but there are still large segments whereby traveling to work is essential (whether due to the work involved or because working from home is a danger to their mental wellbeing).
That doesn’t mean we should give up on reducing their carbon emissions. Like with the other suggestions we’ve made, it’s all about having fun at the same time. One idea is to make traveling to work a competition. Employees that make alternatives to the car can earn points, those that reach a certain threshold in the month receive a voucher. With so many options (public transport, bicycles, and walking), you’ll find this scheme a popular way to reduce the cars on the road while having some healthy competition. Even employees who have no option but to take the car might find carpooling options with other employees a great way to earn that extra star!
No gridlock, lower emissions, and a bit of fun… what’s not to love about this idea?
One more thing
These are a few ‘big’ ideas that can have a radical impact on the energy your office consumes, while at the same time making the office a far more pleasant place to work. Of course, you don’t have to install hundreds of new windows or buy every plant at the florist to make a difference.
More boring but perhaps more practical ideas for every business can include reducing paper by printing double-sided, replacing lightbulbs with energy-saving alternatives, and turning computers off instead of leaving them in sleep mode. Therefore, whether you’re thinking big or small, every office can join the green revolution!
George Amodio is a business writer, specializing in sustainability and believes the success of a business can be measured by purpose as well as profit.