Isn’t it ironic?
No, the irony isn’t “a traffic jam when you’re already late,” “a ‘No Smoking’ sign on your cigarette break” or “ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.” Although these unforgettable lyrics from Alanis Morissette were on the right track, they’re not what I’m referring to. I’m referring to the irony of so many of us who drive hybrid cars, compost and recycle, avoid fast fashion, use solar panels and reduce our carbon footprint however possible, and then head to work where we do the exact opposite.
We understand how important sustainability is, so why do we forget to apply the same environmental practices in the workplace?
We have come a long way since Alanis reminded us how ironic life was in the mid-90s. Luckily for our health and the health of our planet, cigarette breaks and traffic jams have (mostly) become a thing of the past, but there are still many eco-friendly changes we can implement, at home and at work.
As a leader, fostering environmental sustainability in the workplace is your responsibility. By creating sustainable workplace practices that are easy for employees to follow, you will be well on your way toward creating a sustainable work environment.
In addition to learning why environmental sustainability is important in the workplace, bringing in an environmental speaker to help implement sustainable workplace practices that your employees can easily adhere to is vital.
Why Sustainable Workplaces are Essential for Success
By now, we understand the “why” behind sustainability. We recognize that we need to take care of our planet and create a better future. But oftentimes, we only apply that philosophy to our personal lives, without considering the incredible impact we could have if we also incorporated environmental practices in the workplace.
As the leader, it’s crucial that you find ways to be environmentally friendly in your workplace and that you clearly communicate to your team the reasons why they’re so important. Before you can share those reasons with your organization, however, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what they are, and why they matter, both to the planet and to the success of your business.
Good for the Environment
This one seems obvious, yet not every business has stepped up and started operating sustainably. Those businesses are not only missing out on making a difference for our environment by reducing their emissions but also on potential cost savings. Creating an environmental workplace can lead to greatly reduced energy costs, which, especially for large businesses, will positively affect the bottom line.
Sustainability doesn’t only impact today’s environment, it will also create a better world for future generations. A sustainable work environment helps protect the planet and ensure a brighter tomorrow.
Leads to Greater Productivity
An exciting side effect of creating a sustainable work environment is that the feeling of doing good is contagious. When employees know that their work is contributing to both the organization’s mission and the well-being of our world, they will feel inspired and motivated, which will lead to increased productivity.
Making a positive difference feels positively amazing.
Positivity sparks energy, enthusiasm and engagement, which results in greater growth and success for your business. When you show employees you care by creating a sustainable working environment, it creates a sense of community and lets them know their work is meaningful. Your team will recognize that their contributions are valued and that they have a voice in the organization.
Energy expenses are not the only costs that can be decreased by implementing environmental practices in the workplace. While reduced utility bills can have the largest impact on your bottom line, lowering energy consumption can also reduce your reliance on fossil fuels.
Directly contributing to creating a better future is priceless.
Lowered costs are just a bonus to the incredible feeling of knowing you are guiding your organization into a sustainable future.
How to Create a Better Future by Implementing Environmental Practices in Your Workplace
Recognizing why it’s important to create a sustainable workplace is just the first step. Next, you need to create a clearly defined strategy to get there and execute it perfectly.
In order for that strategy to be successful, your employees must understand and buy into your vision. A great way to ensure that happens is to follow the tips outlined below.
1. Introduce Sustainability to Your Employees and Customers
No matter what industry you are in, as the leader, you need to be the sustainability “guru” for your employees and customers. Most people want to implement sustainability measures at work and at home, but they just don’t know where or how to start.
Helping your employees and customers take the first step may inspire them to go even further on their journey toward sustainability. This could be as simple as offering information and ideas for how to make sustainable choices at work and in their personal lives or creating a collaborative space for brainstorming ways to be environmentally friendly.
2. Create Better Electronics Management
Energy conservation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce operating costs. And it’s surprisingly simple, even for leaders with limited time.
You can install motion sensors or automatic timers on office lights and equipment that are often unattended. This will ensure that energy is being consumed only when needed. For machines or lights that aren’t automatic, placing a sticker or sign near the switch reminding employees to turn it off when not in use is a great alternative. Finally, replacing high-energy consumption computers with laptops can also lower costs and your organization’s emission footprint.
These simple and small changes can make a major impact on your energy consumption and your bottom line.
3. Host Virtual Meetings
A wonderful resource that arose out of the pandemic was the virtual meeting space. While it originated out of necessity, it is now a go-to option for many companies whose employees are not in the same location and need to reduce the amount of travel needed to conduct business.
Virtual meetings not only save time and travel expenses, they also reduce travel emissions. With all the advances in technology, hosting meetings and events online is often preferable to being in person in terms of convenience and environmental impact.
In many cases, virtual meetings are an eco-friendly and efficient alternative to gathering in person.
4. Take the “Bike Bus” Concept to Work
A unique idea to add to your environmental workplace strategy is the “bike bus” concept. While the mode of transportation your employees choose to get to and from work may not directly affect your organization’s sustainability, it does lead to greater well-being for your employees.
What is a “bike bus” concept?
The “bike bus” idea began as an Earth Day initiative but quickly became a favorite way for students to get to school. Now, every Wednesday morning, people in Portland gather to smile and wave as they watch a group of about 170 kids roll by on their bikes.
Not only is the bike bus concept a great way to add exercise to your day, it also inspires people to learn about making sustainable choices. It shows us that the solution to climate change doesn’t have to be depressing or unenjoyable, but rather that everything we do can make a difference, even something as fun as riding a “bike bus.”
The “bike bus” concept cultivates a sense of “we are all in this together” and can be adapted to the working culture as well. Inform employees that riding a bike to work whenever possible is an excellent way to incorporate physical activity into their day and reduce congestion and pollution. Starting and ending the workday with fresh air and exercise is also an effective way to transition between work and home, leading to a better work-life balance.
5. Adopt a Hybrid Workplace
An incredibly effective way to create a sustainable workplace is to adopt a hybrid working environment. Not only will this reduce carbon emissions by eliminating the need for travel, it also organically creates a harmonious work-life balance.
Employees appreciate the flexibility that a hybrid work culture allows, which leads to positivity and increased productivity.
6. Adopt a Sustainable Dining Program at Work
Another effective, but less utilized, way to reduce your footprint is to adopt a sustainable dining program at work. Creating this takes work, dedication and consistency, but it’s worth it. It begins with conscientious employees willing to make small changes that collectively have a large impact.
As the leader, you can contribute by providing reusable dishware instead of styrofoam or plastic containers and stocking healthy snacks or meal options, rather than processed food or caffeinated drinks.
A sustainable dining program reduces your company’s footprint, supports local farmers and businesses and contributes to the overall health of your employees. It’s a win-win for all!
Support Environmental Sustainability in the Workplace with Guidance from an Environmental Speaker
Creating a sustainable workplace has numerous benefits for your employees, the environment and your organization.
Before beginning your journey, it is critical to engage an expert guide, such as a sustainability keynote speaker to keep you on course. The right sustainability keynote speaker will show you the way to building a sustainable workplace that contributes to growth for your business and a better future for our world.
Isn’t it ironic that the biggest impact comes from the smallest changes?