Risk & Insurance
10 ways to promote sustainability in the office

With so much focus on climate change, we’re in an age where adopting sustainable practices is no longer considered an option, but rather a necessity. If you run a small business and have not yet started to take steps to make your business more sustainable, now might be the time to think about this. The good news is, adopting sustainable practices doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and it doesn’t have to involve large amounts of effort. Here are our top 10 tips to help create a more sustainable small business which won’t hurt your wallet too much…  
 

Go Digital (Go Paperless)

Of course, it would be impossible to talk about environmental sustainability without addressing paper. Even with almost everything being paperless these days, if you look across your office, you might be surprised to find how many of your operations are still dependent on paper. Once you’ve identified these, research apps which may help you convert these into digital processes. Some of the simplest ways include installing e-signature software, using cloud-based storage instead of paper, and sending receipts and invoices electronically.  
 

Reduce Energy Consumption

You probably already take every precaution at home to keep your power bills from skyrocketing but consider whether you also take this approach within in your office space too. While it is important to maintain a pleasant ambience for clients coming into your office, there are still some small steps you can take to do this without sending your power bills through the roof. Some of these include ensuring plenty of natural light is let in; installing sensor lights; and not turning on air conditioning or heating when the weather outside is mild.
 

Hold back on merchandise/freebies

While there might have been a time when getting free merchandise was exciting, we all know the reality of where most of it ends up – collecting dust, and ultimately in landfill. If your business regularly provides freebies or merchandise, try to find other ways to build your brand awareness which won’t contribute to landfill, such as partnering with local caf├ęs to provide free coffee. If you do still end up needing to produce merchandise, opt for eco-friendly alternatives.
 

Buy second hand where you can

Buying second hand is one of the most effective ways of reducing waste. So, if you find yourself needing to replace office furniture, or any other big-ticket items, look to online marketplaces or op shops before heading to your local furniture store. Not only will you be doing your bit for environmental sustainability, but you’re also likely to pay much less than you would buying brand new.

Skip the bottled water

Did you know bottled water is 2000 times more expensive that tap water, and the impact of it on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than tap water? If your business supplies bottled water to clients or staff, try installing a water filter instead. No one should be offended if you offer them water in a glass instead of bottled water, so making this small switch will make a big effect on reducing your carbon footprint.  
 

Review your supply chain

Another area you might want to examine in helping your business become more sustainable is the suppliers you source from. Are they conscious of their ecological footprint? Have they adopted sustainable practices in their business where it is applicable, such as in their packaging? Being mindful of whether your suppliers are conscious of their footprint can help make sure you’re supporting businesses who are heading in a positive direction.
 

Reduce Food Waste

Food waste probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about reducing your business’s carbon footprint, especially if you’re not a restaurant or other food business. However, it is another area which might surprise you if you take note of the food waste being generated. Whether it’s employees putting food in the fridge and forgetting about it (especially if you have employees who work from home a few days a week) or simply going overboard with catering for clients or office parties, office environments certainly contribute to food waste. Some of the ways to reduce this in your business include educating your employees, ensuring the staff fridge is cleaned out every week and being mindful of the amount of food you provide at catered staff parties.
 

Get involved in recycling initiatives

Your office probably already has a recycling bin, but consider taking this a step further by holding recycling drives your employees can participate in. This can include drives to collect old clothing and mobile phones. It will not only see your business making a difference but can also present an opportunity to educate your own staff on the matter and get them into the habit of recycling.
 

Offer remote work

You might have offered your employees the chance to work from home during lockdowns, but if all your employees are now attending the office full time, consider blending remote work with office attendance (if your service can be performed remotely). By reducing the number of commuters on the road , especially if most of your employees are driving to work, your business would not only be contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but you may also find a hybrid workstyle may lead to less reliance on paper based processes, helping to eliminate your need for paper.
 

Offer employees public transport incentives

If your business or service relies on your employees being in the office, then encouraging your employees to catch public transport, or even cycling to work can make a difference in your small business’s carbon footprint. For example, consider having bike racks and locks at your business’s premises. And while it might be a little out of your budget to pay for your employees’ public transport fares, try to instead allow flexibility around start and finish times as a way of encouraging employees to catch public transport.

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