For many small businesses, the concept of introducing sustainable office ideas to the business model is often perceived as an expensive, out-of-reach practice reserved only for larger, flashier corporations with hefty turnovers and deep pockets.
However, in a bid to find some balance between our consumerist existence and our environment, sustainable office practices have become a much bigger topic, and as a result, much more commonplace for small businesses alike.
A small business can capitalise on adopting green office practices at varied ends of the spectrum; from as little as changing some internal processes, to as big as redefining how business is done.
It’s also been awarded as a key driver for innovation because its implementation often encourages critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. It sparks the need to question antiquated systems, procedures and products - and through this, new ways of doing things are often stumbled upon. And for small business, innovation can be the cornerstone to much bigger success.
If you’re just finding your feet in this area, here’s how to affordably implement effective sustainability by integrating it into the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet.
Make the most of technology
When it comes to people and the planet; technologies and globalisation have paved the way for more flexible working arrangements such as working from home. This alone has profound effects on reducing the carbon footprint for those who want to achieve a more sustainable office.
How is working from home good for the environment? Working from home means less travel time, which also means less fuel and emissions, and less wear and tear on roads and other publicly funded infrastructure. It also cuts down on energy through the use of virtual meetings and digitally based procedures. Less staff in an office means a much smaller office space and therefore less energy needed to run that space.
Working from home can also have quite an understated effect on staff who often experience more freedom and flexibility, which in turn can have a positive effect on company culture.
This can also assist small businesses by positioning themselves as employers of choice who therefore attract more highly skilled people. The implementation of a work-from-home programme in small business can also reduce overheads (such as energy and wastage) and drive profit.
Use sustainable equipment
Implementing easy, affordable green office practices can be as simple as assessing what equipment you currently have in the workplace.
Make sure your appliances and office equipment have appropriate star ratings and are set to sleep mode or unplugged when not in use to reduce energy consumption. Consider replacing old hardware to more innovative equipment with energy-saving features.
For example, KYOCERA’s eco-friendly toner uses 70% less energy in printers and multifunction devices, and our ECOSYS technology uses long-lasting materials so that the lifecycle of a device is 25x longer than the average device.
In some cases, an office audit can reveal inefficiencies in workflow systems and printing or paper wastage. Ensure staff are encouraged to recycle and supply recycle bins in convenient locations around the office so that toner cartridges and paper recycling is top of mind.
Each time you need to decommission a device, make sure it is recycled properly. For example, at KYOCERA we have a Machine Take Back program which offers to pick up decommissioned copiers, printers and multifunction devices, by all manufacturers, from offices in metropolitan areas. We ensure those devices are fully recycled.
Create green spaces
Achieving a sustainable office design can be as easy or complex as you like, but even the implementation of a few small things can get any small business on track for a more green workspace.
If you’re in fit-out mode you can implement more strategic design elements to reduce overall energy usage in the space. Think about airflow, temperature and natural light - is your office space facing the right way to capitalise on these elements? Strategic window placements also allow for more light and airflow, which results in less lighting and less energy consumption used through heating and cooling.
If your office space is already fitted-out, ensure (where appropriate): windows can be opened for ventilation to reduce air-conditioning demands; all incandescent lighting is replaced to more energy-efficient globes; fans are placed in the right locations to maximise airflow and above all, ensure all staff are on-board and educated with the business’s new sustainable office protocol.
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.