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Transforming Workspaces: How to create a sustainable office environment & culture

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A recent survey found that only 17% of workers feel that their office is ‘very or completely green’, with a quarter highlighting a lack of encouragement as a reason why they, and their colleagues, were not greener in the office. 

Adopting green working practices is good for the environment but the changes can also save businesses money. With this in mind, Sonal Jain, the Head of Sustainability at Workspace shared advice on how to create a more sustainable office space and implement greener thinking. 

“Firstly, choose a space with a provider who shares your vision for a sustainable workspace. As a tenant, you need a building owner who takes their responsibility seriously. This includes ensuring the building is built to high sustainability standards and is operated as such, meeting EPC requirements and making carbon emissions savings where possible. 

“Second, as users of buildings, ensure you use the heating, cooling, lighting, and equipment in your workspace responsibly, including turning off electronics overnight and using low-energy bulbs. Simple things such as switching off your lights or opening the windows can make a lot of difference. Adding as much greenery as possible also helps with the mindset and employee wellbeing.”

  1. Turn off computer equipment and other electrical items at the end of the day

Unplugging and switching off computers, printers, and other electrical equipment at the end of the day is a simple way to help cut down on carbon emissions from your business, whilst saving on energy expenses.

  • Use recycled materials and tools wherever possible

Using recycled paper, stationary and other materials can help reduce your carbon footprint. Avoid the use of single-use plastics, such as cutlery, in the office as they have a decomposition period of around 1,000 years.

  • Consider becoming a paperless office

An easy way to become greener is to aim for a paperless space. Reducing the amount of paper used and removing printers that use a lot of energy will support a sustainability initiative.

Sonal also comments on the importance of making it easy for employees to make better choices: 

“Ensure employees are empowered to make the right decisions – raise awareness of issues around sustainability and share information that enables employees to be conscious of lifestyle. Share easy-to-implement tips – make the adoption of sustainable behaviours easy for employees.  

“For instance, you need a building with good quality and secure bike racks and shower facilities if you want employees to adopt sustainable modes of transport. You could also make it completive – in a larger office you could run a competition around recycling and energy usage to make it fun and help people adopt more sustainable behaviours and increase general awareness.”

  1. Ask your employees what initiatives they want to see 

The best way to know how to create a more sustainable workplace is by asking employees what they would like and what matters to them. To further the employee-led approach, you can consider the creation of a ‘green team’ who will be responsible for implementing the initiatives and ensuring they’re applied over time. 

  • Develop and share a timeline for initiatives to come into place 

Establishing a timeline for greener initiatives to be introduced ensures you give employees advance notice to familiarise themselves with new ways of working. It also allows time to phase out any resources that are less sustainable, such as non-recycled paper, as opposed to just disposing of them.

  • Physical signage makes it easy for employees to follow new procedures

Written messages can get lost and forgotten. Instead, create signposts in the office for recycling points and checklists or reminders for employees to use at the end of the day. This could be as simple as ensuring that computer equipment, lights and the heating/air conditioning are switched off. 

  • Create green targets – and refer back to them

Developing long-term sustainability goals can keep employees engaged and motivated to follow new initiatives. Adopt checkpoint meetings to track target progress and success; these meetings can also act as opportunities to adjust or re-evaluate the targets.

Workspace’s building in Shoreditch The Frames was recently awarded first place in the CUBE UK energy savings competition.

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