13/10/2014

By Geraint Evans, Sales and Marketing Director, Avanta Serviced Office Group

The concept of a ‘green’ office can often seem a long way down the list of priorities when consumed by running a business. In a world ruled by profit margins and ROI, the idea of environmental awareness can feel woolly and unprofitable. However, the arguments for energy efficient, low carbon and environmentally friendly offices are numerous. Not only do they help to reduce a business’s impact on the planet; green offices can have a direct impact on the financial success of a business, via:

• Cutting costs through improved energy efficiency and lower utility bills
• Improving employee productivity and wellbeing through better air and light quality, views of nature etc., with the potential to impact on employee retention levels and engagement
• Improving reputation and helping you win business, with many large tenders now requesting green credentials and environmental awareness proving a differentiating factor in crowded industries.

But for many small and medium sized businesses, choosing, developing and maintaining a green office space may not seem that straightforward, faced as they are with numerous other challenges and costs to consider on a day to day basis.

So what are some simple and fast ways that smaller businesses can ‘green-up’ their serviced offices? Here we offer a few suggestions:

• Remove waste paper bins – it is generally an office tradition for every employee to have a bin by their desk but this means all waste is thrown in together and recyclable materials aren’t separated. By eliminating these in favour of larger bins that separate waste, it will be much easier to ensure that recyclable materials can be sorted and collected effectively.

• Buy products made from recycled materials – as well as looking at what you waste, see how you can improve your purchasing. Look for items made from recycled materials, or products that can be easily recycled, thus reducing your environmental impact further. These products are often a similar price to non-recycled alternatives. Also try to work with suppliers who have green credentials.

• Careful when printing – printing can be a huge source of unnecessary waste so try to minimise printers and keep them set to double-sided to reduce paper use. It may also be worth giving each employee their own access code for printing so you can monitor who is printing too much, whilst also ensuring staff are thinking before they print.

• Educate employees – these days the majority of staff will want to do their bit for the environment but they can often forget the basics once they enter the office environment. By regular communication and clever signage around the office space, you can help keep them on track.

• Look for easy energy savings – energy costs are one of the most easily managed in the workplace and often have the greatest potential for reduction. No- and low-cost improvements can reduce energy use by around 20%. For example, think about turning the heating down by a degree or two during the winter and make sure heating is kept off in rooms that aren’t being used.

• Use energy saving light bulbs – Replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and slimline tubes can make immediate savings of up to 75%. They also last up to ten times longer, saving costs for the business.

• Think about transport – being green doesn’t just apply in the office; how your employees travel also impacts the carbon footprint of your company. Why not incentivise staff to cycle through a Cycle to Work Scheme, and aim to use public transport or teleconferences rather than taxis to meetings.

It doesn’t take much to become more ‘green’ and every business, however small, can do its bit. You’ll be surprised how quickly a little bit of effort can lead to a long-term culture change for you and your employees.