For small businesses, implementing a full sustainability strategy across the organisation can be a bit of an overwhelming thought; but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple ways SMEs can embrace sustainability, and there are some really innovative and exciting developments that will make sustainability more seamless in the future, too.
Implementing sustainable business ideas can certainly drive innovation and improve your bottom line. However, taking steps towards being more sustainable in the workplace can also have far-reaching social and economical impacts on both the organisation and its staff.
Some sustainable business ideas for small businesses
Set a standard across all internal procedures to drive home a strong recycling policy in the office.
Ensure printers have a default setting to print double-sided, only choose to buy recycled paper and make sure there’s a recycling tray at every print station - plus recycling waste bins.
Appointing a staff member to oversee all recycling efforts is a great way to make sure the smaller things are accounted for too, like stapling office scribble pads together from recycling paper and distributing to all staff members.
It’s easy to get complacent with office equipment, but new technologies have resulted in a much more sophisticated and eco-friendly range of modern equipment that can reduce the amount of power and consumables needed to run them (such as toner cartridges).
Using energy-saving equipment in the office is also a surefire way to decrease running costs such as electricity, and decrease your carbon footprint at the same time.
Reducing the amount of printing across the organisation can impact on electricity costs, and paper and consumables expenses.
Also, implementing shared digital files can be a great way to replace hard copy documentation and can create more flexibility and integration across staff and departments.
If you’re not sure of your organisation’s print output, it could be time to get an office audit to uncover inefficiencies and cut costs.
Flexibility in the workplace
Sustainability can also positively impact on staff too. The integration of digital file sharing and video conferencing technologies can make working from home or remote locations viable. This means less travelling to and from work and less carbon output, less drain on company electricity and resources, and it generally promotes staff morale at the same time. Depending on the nature of the business, this flexibility can also allow for better responsiveness in the market and better productivity, too.
What does the future hold for sustainable business practices?
Small business sustainability can be reached through a piecemeal approach for those who want to take their time in implementing it.
But for those who are already well on their way, there are a number of exciting developments on the horizon that will make sustainability quite a game-changer in the future for those who pay attention to it:
The Internet of Things (IOT)
This is certainly starting to change the way machines, equipment and appliances interact with humans. It is also pegged to be a real game changer in the world of sustainability, especially in the industries of manufacturing and logistics.
For example in warehouse and distribution, connected devices are making it easier to track products from the warehouse to the consumer, which ensures more streamlined logistics and routing to save on the amount of kilometres travelled during delivery. With 50 billion connected devices estimated by 2020, IOT is creating a lot of opportunities for organisations across a range of industries and is a very practical sustainable business idea.
With the world of technology comes big data and the ability to be able to analyse that data for the greater good, like sustainability. With so much growing information at our fingertips, the ability to better understand customers, buying behaviours, attitudes, trends and more will make way for more customised solutions and innovations that can help reduce wastage across energy and resources.
Sustainability will be an important measure of success for workplaces of the future. Download our Green Office Guide to learn how to improve your environmental impact, while also reducing business costs and boosting efficiency.