Small Steps to Becoming a Greener Business
Benefits for all: Employee Perks and Gaining Green Credentials
Businesses have always had the opportunity to present themselves as being “green”. For a while it was a nice, not necessarily always financially wise way to build a company up, but today with consistent new rulings and regulations, this “green-thinking” is an absolute necessity for modern, growing businesses.
Not only are businesses becoming increasingly wary in terms of measuring outgoing CO2, whether that be from the company fleet or elsewhere, but business owners and managers are beginning to prepare for a more sustainable future in their sectors that will in time save them money as well as boost their credentials.
Plan and Prepare
There are many ways that employers can now create a more environmentally friendly ethos, some are more traditional whilst others involve a little bit more of an open-minded approach to how small changes can make a huge difference and can keep a company ahead of the curve.
The first step that many people take is to dive right in and start changing things, but this approach can often lead to short-lived changes that can cost more than they need to. Creating a long-term plan that involves specific goals will help to move towards a more significant improvement in the business.
A simple strategy to ensure that there are company-wide changes is to include passionate individuals from different teams in the planning and execution stages of the project to move forward. You will often find that with this approach, more employees feel invested in the journey that the business is making and will encourage those around them to do the same. This makes the move to a “green” company feel more like a project than a chore and as we will discuss, there are many opportunities for employees to benefit from this change as well as employers.
A Plausible Paperless Office?
A simple but effective first step is to reduce paper usage in the office and offsite. This could include emailing digital copies of meeting agendas and using whiteboards around the office for notes and planning. Not only will this reduce day-to-day waste, it will ensure that data kept by the company is secure and GDPR compliant with the availability of encryption for digitally stored files. This method of moving to digital recording could even be used for offsite workers, using tablets and electronic forms rather than a pen and paper each time. Not only is it better for keeping track of your data, it’s a great first step towards reducing money spent on stationery and reducing office waste.
Obviously for a lot of businesses, going 100% paperless is not always possible, in this case consider setting up paper (and general) recycling points around the office that are regularly emptied when paper use is unavoidable. It also encourages employees to actively consider what they’re throwing away and whether there are other things that they use that they could recycle.
‘R’ for ‘Reuse’?
Many offices are regularly looking for ways to make employees more efficient and productive, recent trends suggest that offices frequently put in coffee and refreshment machines to appeal to employees but it’s not ideal for a sustainable office. Every time an employee gets a coffee, for example, there is wastage of the paper cup, packaging within the machine and the power used to keep these machines running constantly. Consider replacing machines that give plastic or cardboard cups with reusable mugs, glasses and cutlery rather than using plastic versions that are thrown away. These machines are expensive and often inconvenient, a kettle that will make multiple cups at once will work just as well and reduce waste there too.
What other areas have potential for reusable resources? A big one is printers, there are companies out there that supply refillable ink cartridges that are becoming a lot more common in offices. You send away your empty cartridges and they’re refilled and sent back, it’s easy. You’re also saving on metal and plastic wastage.
See Green, Be Green
Placing plants around the office is estimated to reduce CO2 by up to a quarter. This doesn’t mean turning the office into a jungle, but putting just a few plants around can definitely help with air quality. Not only does it make the office look nicer but being around and seeing greenery will boost creativity and help employees feel more relaxed at work. You’ll find a raised level of productivity if you package this affordable idea in with some bigger benefits.
You’ve got the Power
It’s estimated that around 30% of a company’s utility spend goes on lighting and with new technology, it’s no longer necessary. A short-term investment into a new lighting structure can save a company money over a longer period of time. In an office environment, a lot of screens can create an artificial light that is not only bad for employees’ eyesight but poor for productivity long term, making an investment in the environment beneficial. Where possible try to use sources of natural light, it’s proven to aid alertness and general productivity. If this is not possible, utilise LED lighting, they last longer and contain fewer harmful materials.
Install sensors that will automatically turn lights on and off as rooms are used. This will stop the lights in infrequently used areas costing big money, think conference rooms, toilets and even kitchens as well as the main office areas.
A Casual Office Saving?
A recent study suggested that there are measures that will reduce CO2 linked with the company through external channels. An example given was allowing employees to wear ‘smart casual’ clothing in the office. The study suggested that it would result in employees wearing fewer outfits because they wouldn’t change when outside of work hours, and consequently would be using washing machines and dry-cleaning services less frequently, resulting in a ‘greener lifestyle’ for employees.
Being Green has its Benefits
Straying not too far from offering employees casual dress, employers can leverage the company benefits package in other ways to make this process of boosting green credentials feel like a reward rather than a chore for staff.
Many employers offer cycle to work schemes which are often a good option for staff who live close to the office but what about those who live further afield? Is there a practical way to give them benefits that not only help the business with increased productivity but are green?
There are options to use employee car schemes in a very green and simple way. Low CO2 cars offer great savings, sometimes up to 45% compared to retail – even with Benefit in Kind Tax imposed on Salary Sacrifice. They offer employees a ‘just add fuel’ solution that can help them get into new, affordable cars. A stat released earlier in the year suggested that you could travel over 32,000 miles in a fully electric car for just over £345 of electric charge, so you’re not just reducing the amount of CO2 you are producing, whether driving personally or for business, but you’re saving money too.
A common worry with this (often) cost-free benefit is the infrastructure required for charging electric cars – companies can offer free electric charging points where suitable with orders of electric cars, to help jump start this transition to fully electric or hybrid models. Choosing a company with a low emission focus is crucial when trying to successfully implement this benefit company-wide.
These schemes can also be a good option for employees who do fewer business miles but still need personal insurance. Companies can offer an excellent benefit with affordable cars that also cover employees for business journeys, are proven to help with recruitment and reduce employee stress. They’re a win-win.
Green Fleets go Further
The options for taking steps to become green aren’t exclusive to hassle-free employee car schemes. There is potential to implement this ‘green-motoring’ mentality into vans or specially adapted vehicles too. Whether this be driving in a more environmentally friendly fashion or switching to lower CO2 vehicles, it can be massively beneficial to the company. Not only is there opportunity to save on fuel, but your “green badge” will allow you to drive into cities implementing congestion zone charges, which if done regularly could save a considerable amount of money. We always recommend using a specialist green fleet advisory service for this, as implementing the changes in-house can be overwhelming, particularly if you do not have a specialist fleet manager working on site.
Stay in the Loop
Stay on track to achieve company goals by staying up to date with the latest news. Local green networking events and following online campaigns such as Go Ultra Low (for cars) will provide a valuable insight into new issues and solutions. They’ll also offer opportunities to help other local businesses looking to move to green alternatives and could open avenues for partnerships with like-minded businesses.
Learn more about how salary sacrifice car schemes work and how you can leverage these no cost schemes to aid employee efforts to lower CO2. Download the guide below or register for a free webinar here.
Tags : Green Business, Green Motoring, sustainable office