Business Owners Share Advice on Making Offices More Eco-Friendly

(Photo : Business Owners Share Advice on Making Offices More Eco-Friendly)

The eco-friendly movement goes beyond social media posts and pledges to do better. Your business needs to follow up with genuine action that makes a difference.

What are some real and immediate things you can do to make your business footprint more eco-friendly? Here's what business founders are saying about going green and sustainable.

Learn to Unplug

Even a small office can take up a lot of energy between workstations, TVs, appliances, and other electronics. At the very least, make sure these machines are turned off at the end of the day so that you aren't wasting too much.

"Boost your office's eco-friendliness by turning off and unplugging electronics at the end of every day," said John Levisay, CEO of The Pro's Closet. "Have your employees take the extra minute to turn off and unplug their computers and any other electronic devices they use. This can save massive amounts of electricity and it saves your business money on your electricity bill. It's a win-win for your business." 

When you see those savings on your bill at the end of each month, you might be more eager to seek other eco-friendly solutions.

The Hybrid Office

While many employees are eager to return to the office after an extended hiatus, working from home happens to be the more eco-friendly approach. It looks like the hybrid office will be the prevailing model moving forward.

"Working remotely is one of the best ways to make a workplace more eco-friendly," said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. "Commute times are cut down, people have more time to go outside and explore in nature, or even pick an outdoor spot to get work done, and less waste is used since remote work tends to be paperless. If you need to meet with your team, you can have days where you all get creative and find different spots to meet, such as a local coffee shop or outdoor area." 

If your business is ready to get back in action, consider keeping remote work as an eco-friendly option and for added flexibility.

Consolidate Tech

Most offices have an excess of technology that can be either consolidated or removed completely. Consider scaling back the amount of machinery in your office to save some cash and energy.

"If you really want to be more eco-friendly in the workplace, consider removing printers from every office," said Jared Zabaldo, Founder of USAMM. "Have each team member send their printouts to one central printer that everyone can access. This way, everyone will think twice before printing out unnecessary documents." 

Quick fixes like this can make a big difference over the course of months and years, so don't delay.

Manage E-Waste

Electronic waste is kind of a big deal, and you should take it seriously when moving offices or making upgrades. Don't just throw every piece of equipment in the dumpster - there's a right and wrong way to do it.

"To make your office more eco-friendly, always be sure to properly recycle e-waste," said Omid Semino, CEO of Diamond Mansion. "Most businesses upgrade their electronics at some point in time, so be sure to properly recycle the old electronics. Although it seems easier just to throw them in the dumpster, this is horrible for the environment and can lead to dangerous chemicals in our drinking water. Jump online to search for your nearest e-steward and give your old electronics to them to have them recycled in a safe and ethical way." 

The more people get on board with recycling best practices, the closer we get to the environmental goals we set for ourselves.

Stick to Values

Making an eco-friendly commitment means establishing clear policies in the workplace, but also making connections with other brands and influencers that hold the same values.

"In the health and fitness industry, your audience is also very likely to be environmentally conscious as well, and will want to associate with brands who align with their values," said Eric Wu, Co-Founder and COO of Gainful. "At Gainful, we consistently strive to make efforts to keep our office environmentally friendly, and promote a sustainable lifestyle with all our employees. Promoting being active and getting out in nature and incorporating what we did with remote work into our office culture has also helped us be more sustainable as an office culture." 

Remember, customers will associate your brand with certain messages and movements, so be highly aware of the image you're conveying.

Celebrate Achievements

The push for eco-friendly action is constant, but we should also celebrate the progress we've made and acknowledge our efforts to make improvements in this area, however small.

"This mandate that I seek is about continuity and sustainability against disruption and stagnation, about moving forward versus regressing," said Najib Raznak, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia. "We have to safeguard what we have already achieved. We cannot put at risk what we have; we cannot gamble away our future."

Stay focused on the objectives, but enjoy life and work along the way.

Shine a Light

If you've got big windows and plenty of natural light, use it! This adds a nice atmosphere to the office and saves you a lot of energy each month.

"Create as much natural light as possible in your office to increase your office's eco-friendliness," said Alex Czarnecki, CEO of Cottage. "Not only is natural light wanted by employees, but it will also help you save on electricity. Natural light allows your office to turn off overhead lights during office hours. You can increase natural light by moving any large furniture that blocks windows, using energy-efficient glass walls instead of drywall, and having an open floor plan." 

Only use those overhead lights when absolutely necessary, and if possible, make them less blinding than usual.

Team Effort

When everyone is on the same page for eco-friendly initiatives, the whole thing becomes way easier. Plus, this builds a better sense of community and can have a positive impact on culture.

"To be more eco-friendly at the office, encourage your team to do some of the little things that can really add up! If possible, use public transportation or carpool for your commute," said Jordan Dwayne, CEO and Founder of 6 Ice. "Even bringing in a plant can do wonders! In fact, a nice succulent can be a great gift for birthdays or other events."

When you can make your office more environmentally and personally friendly, that's a major win-win.

Smart Supplies

Some offices absolutely tear through supplies and end up wasting a lot of material in the process. It's time that owners start managing this inventory more effectively and maybe change up their approach.

"Opt for eco-friendly office supplies for your business," said Jim Beard, COO of Box Genie. "These days every office supply you could need has an eco-friendly version. Take advantage of this and switch from using unsustainable supplies to sustainable ones." 

Most vendors will offer these options nowadays, and they're worth spending a bit extra if you manage stock more carefully.

Cut Out Machines

Are there vestiges of yesteryear still lingering in your office? Old appliances and things like vending machines take up a lot of energy, and it might be time to say goodbye.

"To be more eco-friendly, ditch those vending and soda machines at the office," said Rachel Jones, Head of PR at Hope Health. "Not only do they contain unhealthy snacks, but the waste that comes from a candy bar and a soda aren't exactly doing your carbon footprint any favors. Instead, keep a basket of fresh fruit, and use the honor system." 

The new office space will look cleaner and be greener with this old equipment out of the way.

Fresh Air and Sun

If your office is in a location with nice weather, make the most of what nature has to offer. Your employees will be way happier, get more done, and you can save on energy usage in the meantime.

"There are a ton of ways that offices can become more eco-friendly," said Meghan Maupin, Co-Founder and CEO of Atolla. "Utilizing outdoor space and sunlight is a great way to reduce electricity and allow employees to get some fresh air while they work. If the weather permits, having airflow with open windows can also reduce energy output and energy bills down the road. Encouraging the use of nature around you to your advantage can make your company more socially conscious and a more relaxing place to work."

Everything's better with natural sunlight and fresh air, so this one is a no-brainer.

Set Incentives

Let's face it - not every person in your company is going to be 100% on board with your eco-goals moving forward. Make it fun and engaging to get everybody involved.

"Get your employees engaged and interested in creating an eco-friendly office by creating monthly green challenges," said Ajay Mehta, CEO of Birthdate Candles. "This can be a fun way to do some team building and go green. A challenge could be giving a reward to the employee who goes a month without using plastic utensils." 

A bit of friendly competition is always fun, and everyone wins when you make your office more environmentally sound.

Embrace Sustainability

Hopefully, the lessons that employees learn in the workplace will take root and be applied to other areas of their lives. This is how movements gain momentum and change the world.

"As a culture or a civilization, we are a bit juvenile; it's like 'Oh, I have all this power, whoa, this is so cool, I can transform the earth and I can produce all this wealth," said British Artist Tino Sehgal. "But we're blinded by our success in a naive way. There's more to life, actually, and I think the sustainability issue is also helpful in reminding us about that."

Don't get too caught up in the metrics and numbers - just make real changes that add up over time and make a difference.

Part of the Culture

We talk a lot about company culture and the values of a business, and eco-friendly policies are now part of this conversation. Is your company committed in practice, or only in theory?

"Environmental impact is an important consideration with everything we do, from product development to office culture," said Veronica Becchetti, Co-Founder and Head of Production at Wild One. "Every employee is given a set of reusable (and portable) drinkware on their first day on the job. We have coffee and sodas on tap and a fully stocked kitchen to reduce morning coffee runs and lunch takeout. We also host a competition, where the company is split into teams, and the team that uses their reusable drinkware and containers the most and orders takeout the least wins fun prizes. Gamifying really brings out the competitiveness in all of us and always works to motivate behaviors."

Once your company culture has fully embodied all these values, it becomes an automatic part of life that nobody has to think twice about.

Actually Go Green

Does your office need some sprucing up? Rather than doubling down on fluorescent lights and flatscreen TVs, add some healthy green plants to the mix and improve the atmosphere from the inside out.

"A great way to become an eco-friendly office is to bring plants in," said Tri Nguyen, CEO of Network Capital. "Plants help to create an oxygen-neutral environment and they improve the air quality. Plants will also help improve the well-being and productivity of your employees. The air quality benefits of plants mean that your business will not have to run its expensive air filtration system." 

Science shows that plants boost mood and help the planet, so why not bring in a bunch?

Encourage Remote Work

Everyone got a good sense of the remote work lifestyle this past year, and many professionals are still working from home several days a week. Decide how you want to move forward with remote work policies and make sure this doesn't cause rifts within your ranks.

"Hands down, one of the best ways to make your office more eco-friendly is to allow employees to work remotely whenever possible," said Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort. "There'll be no commute, less energy used at the office and fewer supplies to be reordered. However, if you do require in-office team members, consider a hybrid schedule, with days working remotely and others in the office. Every little bit helps!"

To achieve our eco-friendly mission, there is still so much to accomplish. Start with these simple and applicable tips to move things in the right direction, and take control of your immediate environment before saving the world.