Let’s be blunt. The climate crisis is not going to be solved by a few changes to your business practices alone. It will take a collective, global effort to tackle the climate crisis. But individual, company-wide changes will play a crucial role in this.
Thankfully, the past 18 months have proven that we can institute mass social change when necessary, and businesses were at the forefront of this. Covid-19 led to the biggest change in working practices since the industrial revolution. Using the momentum of this massive change, businesses are well-placed to implement new green policies.
“But wait,” I hear you cry, “businesses are more vulnerable than ever. The pandemic has left many companies hanging on by a thread. They can’t afford to start implementing eco-policies now.” Actually, embracing green business practices doesn’t have to hit your bottom line.
In fact, with government subsidies and tax relief schemes – plus the cost-savings of various eco-initiatives – there’s never been a better time to institute green business practices.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 green business practices you could implement in your organisation today.
1. Go paperless
Trees are the lungs of our planet. They capture carbon from the air and provide life to millions of species. Yet we continue to cut them down; to make way for grazing land for livestock, for lumber and, of course, for paper.
It sounds like such a small thing, but the average office worker uses around 50 kg of paper a year – equivalent to some 10,000 sheets of A4 paper. Switching to digital for the majority of internal communications, however, could save up to 18m acres of forest each year.
Thankfully, paper is increasingly obsolete in the digital workspace. With more of our daily processes moving online, paper is now typically limited to historic files and legal documents.
Even if you can’t make the switch to fully digital (for whatever reason), it’s important your office recycles the paper it uses and buys its paper from a reputable, sustainable source.
2. Create an eco-friendly workspace
The office is often the main source of carbon emissions for service-based businesses. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t own their office space but rent it from a commercial letting agent. That prevents businesses from making substantial changes to the infrastructure, like adding green rooves, rainwater capture and solar panels.
So how do you optimise your office space without making fundamental changes to the structure?
You can change what’s inside relatively easily. Adding energy-efficient heating and lighting appliances is a simple and effective first step. You can also adjust the layout of the office to encourage natural ventilation and improve access to natural light, reducing the dependency on artificial lighting.
If your employees have to commute from a distance, offer incentives for environmentally friendly means of travel. Many companies now offer bikes to employees to reduce the number travelling by car. Likewise, partnerships with local transport authorities can prompt more employees to take public transport.
And if some of your team have to drive, institute a carpool scheme with rewards for those who take part.
3. Assign an eco-liaison officer
To ensure a policy is implemented effectively across your organisation, assign the overall responsibility to a trusted member of your team. These “eco-liaison officers” can help manage the rollout of new policies, explain changes to your team and extoll the virtues of your new policy.
If your team works from Anywhere, ask your eco-liaison officer to compile a resource pack of best practices for making their home office more sustainable. It’s important to remember that not every employee will have the personal space or means to implement every energy-saving measure you suggest.
If you’re going to supply employees with eco-friendly hardware as a company expense (ie energy-saving lightbulbs, smart power strips, etc.), ask your officer to manage the distribution in a way that minimises damage to the environment (ie through the carbon footprint of delivery, packaging, etc.).
Most importantly, your eco-officer can provide you with regular feedback on the efficacy of your green business programs. That’s important because embracing green business practices isn’t an overnight project – it’s an ongoing process that needs regular refinement.
4. Partner with environmental NGOs
Not every business – especially those that work Anywhere – can easily institute changes to their workplaces. Thankfully, there are thousands of reputable charities that, with your support, will help build a brighter, greener future.
AnswerConnect, for instance, works with Trees for the Future under the 1 Tree 1 Planet initiative. The initiative sees TFTF plant a new tree for every AnswerConnect employee and customer, every month.
Your support doesn’t have to take the form of financial payments. Encourage employees (through incentives) to contribute to environmental initiatives. These initiatives can take many forms, including:
- Set aside one workday every month where your team can take part in a recognised environment project.
- Offer incentives for employees to spend a weekend participating in local community events .
- Launch your own initiative! It can be anything, from a litter picking day to a local rewilding program.
Whichever NGO you choose to partner with, try to ensure you can offer a sustainable weekly, monthly or annual contribution. Partnerships require time and investment to set up; it’s better for both parties if you can maintain contributions for as long as possible.
5. Start working Anywhere
Covid-19 forced office-based businesses to shift to working from home. But as the world begins to open up, many organisations are pushing employees to return to the office. That’s not just a problem for workers, it’s a problem for the whole world.
Because just as office-based work exacerbated the covid-19 pandemic, fixed-location working is contributing to a much larger crisis; that of private transport commuting. We’re rapidly approaching the tipping point for CO2 levels. The reality is, business as usual just isn’t an option. Thankfully, if every organisation that could switch to an Anywhere working model did, they would:
- Decrease greenhouse emissions by 54 million tons.
- Reduce oil consumption by 640 million barrels.
- Reduce overall local transport CO2 levels by between 17 and 60%.
Even local air quality is badly impacted by commuting. A TfL study attributed 40,000 early deaths each year to air pollution. Motor vehicle traffic hit a record high in 2019, with over 25% of travel for commuting or business purposes. And while 2020 saw a significant drop as a result of the pandemic (car traffic decreased by 24.7% from 2019 levels), we’re rapidly returning to pre-lockdown levels.
By shifting to an Anywhere working model, you can cut the commute and cut collective carbon emissions. It may be just a small part of a larger movement to tackle the climate crisis, but it’s no less essential.
Want to implement green business initiatives and take your team Anywhere? Get in touch with AnswerConnect here and start building a brighter future through your business today.