Issues regarding sustainability and eco-friendliness continue to prompt discussion around the world. To do their part for the environment, more companies are enforcing green initiatives ahead of time. For example, the SAP recruitment agency Eursap has recently teamed up with The National Forest and will be planting a tree for every SAP consultant they successfully place.
Aside from the inherent positives for the planet, taking preventive measures to protect the environment can cut workplace costs and increase staff morale. Here are four ways in which going green at work can also save your business money.
Reduce transport emissions
A business can help the environment by encouraging staff to use alternative commuting methods instead of driving to work. Public transport uses less energy and produces less pollution compared with solo travel in private vehicles.
Cycling to work is a great option that is becoming increasingly feasible as plans for segregated cycle lanes increase. Not only does it take more cars off the road, but cyclists can also reap plenty of health benefits from the exercise.
If commuters are concerned about arriving at work perspiring and tired, an electric bike may be the answer. New bike manufacturers such as Eco Expedition Electric Bikes are trumpeting the e-bike for its green power and suitability for commuters.
Encouraging green methods of transportation will reduce the carbon footprint of your business and highlight your environmental commitment. Over time they could save money through diminished travel or fuel costs - expenses that many businesses cover which is not tax deductible.
Telecommuting cuts carbon footprints and improves morale
Encouraging employees to work from home is another way of reducing the carbon footprint of your company and the need for extra workspace. It could be a very popular decision too: two thirds of workers would jump at the chance of working from home while 36 per cent of employees would shun a pay rise in favour of telecommuting.
Allowing staff to telecommute means they do not need to travel to work. This means there are fewer vehicles on the road. Telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by more than 51 million metric tons a year - the equivalent of taking all New York's commuters off the road.
Recently, businesses have been embracing telecommuting as a way of reducing the need for permanent office space. Embracing a culture of flexible office space and short-term lets for when you need them can help a business to avoid skyrocketing office costs.
Go paperless and turn to technology
In the digital age, working in the cloud has become far more efficient for modern businesses. Paper can be eliminated from the office as documents can be exchanged and collaborated on electronically, via a third-party provider such as Google Drive or Microsoft's OneDrive.
This reduces the impact on the environment and simultaneously allows a business to cut costs on storage, printing cartridges and office space. Additionally, centralisation to the cloud gives you access to free email accounts, word processing and other services - meaning you can cut costs by abandoning standard office computer software.
Making your business paperless for your front of house, in the office or when dealing with clients should go hand in hand with your behind-the-scenes interactions. For example, with your accountants. Contractor accountant 3 Wise Bears has already taken its services online, with cloud-based accountancy software. This provides a simple, separate space for all your accounting invoices and interactions.
However, you will need to make sure your digital and physical data stays safe. In an article by Top Web, the office clearance company Clearance Solutions was mentioned as saying that even huge companies sometimes forget to use data destruction services when going digital. If you're dealing with personal information, neglecting to dispose of confidential information correctly can throw your business into disrepute.
Green workspaces increase productivity
Greener workplaces are much healthier environments for employees to work in. Absenteeism costs UK businesses an estimated £36bn each year and poor air quality is one of the leading causes of office illness.
A simple way of improving air quality is to introduce plants to the office. Plants absorb toxins from the air and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. A NASA study found that certain plant species not only take in carbon dioxide but also absorb toxic compounds such as benzene and formaldehyde commonly found in offices. This benefits both the environment and the productivity of your employees.
A study also found that employees are 15 per cent more productive when offices are filled with houseplants. Employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests was improved substantially when one plant per square metre was introduced to the workplace.