A beginner’s guide to going green in the office

A general shift in consensus is occurring in the corporate world as an increasing number of companies realise the importance of eco-friendly and sustainable business practice. So how can your organisation transition to a green working environment?

Conduct an environmental audit

As with any aspect of business, planning is essential. Identifying and analysing where and how a company has room for improvement is vital, and this is nonetheless so when creating a sustainable office. Appointing an environmental specialist to audit your company is key in realising the particular requirements of your office and how best to change these in a green and sustainable manner. The results of the audit can alert leaders to potential ways to increase sustainability, through actions that can be undertaken both on- and off-site.

According to the Green Office Guide published by Australian and New Zealand governmental bodies, energy efficient measures can help organisations make savings of up to 80 per cent on electricity bills, which should be a significant reason to kick start your green office action plan with an environmental audit.

Go paperless

Cutting down on paper usage should be essential in any office to reduce waste and expenditure. The need for paper is decreasing, as technologies such as video-conferencing and the rise of mobile devices in the workplace continue to gain momentum. Adopting these innovative measures not only saves time and money, they're effective and efficient ways to help save the planet too.

Electronic signatures, messaging communication systems and online resource boards are some of the ways employees can complete work in an environmentally aware way. The Business Guide to Paper Reduction, a paper by Forest Ethics, reveals that of all printed forms, one-third of these "become outdated before they are used", further reinforcing the benefit of electronic communication as the way to stay up-to-date and sustainable in business operations.

Think outside the box

Eco-friendly practices don't have to be confined to the office – encouraging employees to walk, bike or car share to work allows for sustainability to be incorporated into all aspects of workplace culture. This is an effective way to build a positive brand identity too, especially if these schemes are also advertised with eco-friendly products. Helping to protect the environment through reducing carbon emissions and other harmful substances produced during daily commutes is one benefit, along with encouraging a healthier workforce too.

In fact, employee well-being is also connected to an increase in productivity, with healthier workers contributing between 3-11 per cent more with regard to output and productivity, according to data published by Engage for Success, a UK-based international movement for improved well-being in the workplace.