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Eco-friendly working

The greenest way to do business

Running a sustainable, green business is now more important than it has ever been before. But you don't need to be a giant corporation to make a big difference.

Running a sustainable, green business is now more important than it has ever been before. You may not realise it but office life can have a significant impact on the environment.

Think about the pollution caused by your commute to work, the energy used when there, the waste produced during the average workday. The figures are astonishing; in the US alone, businesses will use 21 million tonnes of paper each year, with general waste on average costing the equivalent of 4% of overall turnover.

As awareness surrounding this issue grows, more and more businesses are looking at how they can reduce their carbon footprint and operate in the greenest way possible.

Notable businesses that have endeavoured to implement environmentally friendly policies include:

Amazon

With a strong focus on renewable energy, a significant number of Amazon fulfilment warehouses now use solar panels, utilising the power of solar energy in these large spaces rather than finite resources.

Unilever

For nearly a decade, Unilever has followed its ‘Sustainable Living Plan’, which sets targets and guidelines to ensure they are continually operating with environmental policies at the forefront, with a strong focus on saving energy, reducing paper waste and wasting less water.

Lego

As a huge producer of plastic goods, the spotlight has been on Lego for many years. The business has recently launched its very first plant-based blocks, with a commitment to making all products from sustainable materials by 2030.

Of course, these are large international businesses that will have significant budgets to contribute towards environmental policies. So, what can smaller businesses do to ensure a greener future at an affordable cost?

Reducing the environmental impact of your business

For the majority of businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and operate on a more environmentally friendly basis, many companies look to the obvious solutions, such as reducing energy consumption and waste. Tactics surrounding these policies may include:

  • Ensuring employees power down computers overnight
  • Turning off unnecessary lighting
  • Implementing a recycling initiative
  • Supplying reusable water bottles
  • Utilising cloud software
  • Encouraging staff to bring their own lunch to work
  • Taking part in conference or video calls rather than travelling to meetings
  • Introducing a cycle-to-work scheme
  • Reducing paper through increased digitalisation
  • Utilising eco-friendly cleaning products

However, in recent years, countless companies have adopted new ways of working that not only benefit the business itself but have a significant impact on its green credentials. These include flexible working (allowing employees to choose their own working hours) and remote working (giving staff the opportunity to work from home if they choose). But one of the most ground-breaking working methods that has emerged is operating a business without a physical headquarters or presence at all.

Office-less working

Developments in technologies have made the concept of office-less working highly viable for businesses of all sizes. Currently, the UK has 4.3 million workers that work from home, but experts have predicted that this figure could double by 2025.

To put the impact that this would have on the environment in perspective, 8.66 million home workers would mean 374,931 fewer cars on the roads in Greater London alone. In terms of emissions, this would mean 420kg less CO2 per person per year in London.

Not only will office-less working result in less air pollution, but it will also mean less energy consumption and less waste. For the business itself, this will also result in drastically reduced overheads, a more productive workforce, access to a much wider pool of talent (as you don’t necessarily need to hire locally) and higher employee retention.

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