Many offices have begun to adopt sustainable approaches to reduce their carbon footprints. Not only is this extremely beneficial for the environment, but it is a smart business decision in terms of public image and brand recognition. Thankfully, there are a host of different technologies to employ and each offers its own unique set of advantages.
What are some viable solutions for the modern office environment? Are there any attributes worth noting? Might employees benefit from these strategies? If you are considering such a transition, the information found below should never be overlooked.
Innovative Printing Solutions
Many offices are already utilising sustainable materials such as bamboo toilet paper, biodegradable coffee cups and more to reduce waste. However, what about in-house printers? Printers require a significant amount of paper and as a result, they are one of the primary contributors to the carbon footprint of a workplace.
One excellent solution involves the implementation of managed print services. Three examples of this approach include:
- Establishing a clear printing queue to avoid wasting excess materials.
- Creating centralised reports to better understand which printing tasks are being carried out and the number of employees who use printers regularly.
- Programming printers to use a minimal amount of ink when performing tasks.
When we consider the fact that up to 45 per cent of all printer paper is discarded at the end of the day, it becomes clear why adopting the policies outlined above is a wise choice.
Targeted Approaches to Waste Management
Even the most streamlined of offices will not be capable of becoming more sustainable if employees and management alike are not provided with the proper levels of motivation. This is particularly relevant with in-house waste solutions.
In many cases, simply posting a new set of regulations or encouraging employees to become more cognizant about their habits will have little effect. This is when the concept of gamification comes “into play”. Gamification techniques are used to promote a greater sense of individual responsibility. Here are some techniques that may be employed:
- Leader boards highlighting which employee has used the minimal amount of printer paper.
- Competitions involving reducing energy consumption.
- Rewarding workers who rise head and shoulders above their peers.
However, it is still prudent to perform an in-depth waste management audit. This examination will provide a much greater level of insight into areas that can be improved. It may also identify problems that management had not been aware of in the past.
Transitioning into a Paperless Environment
We are living within a digital business community. Most organisations have embraced this change to a “paperless” environment. Still, such a transition is often easier said than done. What can offices do to expedite the process?
First and foremost, offices should change how data is collated, stored and accessed. This often comes in the form of cloud-based software. This approach does not require many in-house resources and the workplace will consume less energy.
Another useful suggestion involves upgrading existing document management systems (DMSs). The main takeaway point here is that this can help to streamline existing workflows while ensuring a higher degree of in-house efficiency. Another benefit is that proprietary information (such as client data) will be kept more secure.
Automation is critical. Many legacy-based software systems are associated with redundant and downright frustrating tasks. Examples include data entry and customer relations management. By eliminating these issues, more work will be accomplished in less time.
A final recommendation is associated with telecommuting. At the time that this article was written, studies estimate that a mere five per cent of office employees telecommute regularly. The good news is that this number is steadily increasing. There are several benefits with this approach:
- Less time will be spent commuting (reduce fossil fuel consumption).
- Employees can often accomplish more.
- Software systems provide a centralised way to monitor the workflow.
- Workers tend to be happier when provided with remote working options.
Many devices support this strategy and some experts predict that telecommuting will become commonplace shortly.
Although face-to-face meetings and traditional handshakes are still required from time to time, we are now witnessing a paradigm shift into the digital world. Collaborative solutions provide the ability to create virtual meetings with a single click. Third-party software systems alongside reliable VoIP networks have further streamlined these processes.
Once again, these practices can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of an office environment while also mitigating the need to travel between different locations. Many clients prefer these options due to their inherently convenient nature.
Smart as Opposed to Hard: Green is Good
Smart offices are indeed the way of the future. Managers and stakeholders are now more concerned with how their practices are impacting the environment. After all, reduced waste expenditure will ultimately lead to lower operational costs and a higher return on investment (ROI).
Adopting the recommendations outlined above is an excellent way to guarantee a smooth transition while ensuring that employees are kept in the loop.
Paul Towler is the Technical Operations Director at SmartOffice, an office automation provider who has helped many businesses install software such as accounts payable solutions, document management system etc.. As a result, these businesses have saved time and money and increased productivity.