Championing Change: A Green Office Week Guide to Better Business

This May marks the fifth ever Avery Green Office Week, encouraging workers across the country to implement simple, practical, step-by-step changes that will help to make workplaces large and small more environmentally-friendly.

Launched by office-experts Avery, Green Office Week has found that despite many of us prioritising the environment at home, currently fifty-five percent of people say they work with colleagues who either disregard green working practices or are deliberately wasteful.  Forgetting to recycle, needlessly throwing away paper and leaving computers switched on overnight are just some of the top environmental issues identified.

These kind of practises are not only bad for the environment, but incredibly bad for a company’s bottom line too. For example, Green Office Week research previously found that UK office workers waste over £160 million each year just by leaving the lights on at work! That’s a staggering amount of money lost simply through poor environmental practices in the workplace. It’s clear that the day to day actions of staff really do have a direct bearing on an organisation’s environmental impact and its finances, particularly when it comes to utility bills, print and waste costs. But what can be done to help change attitudes in the workplace? We’ve all seen small things that affect the environment happen in the office and probably even been guilty of them ourselves at one time or another too, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make your business greener. It’s all about knowing how and where to start.

This year’s Green Office Week findings highlight the importance of tackling such issues by collectively working together to champion greener ways of working. Using initiatives such as Green Office Week as a spring board to kick start green  discussions is a great way to unite colleagues and inspire them to take small and simple steps to help make the workplace more sustainable.

Start Talking

Make time to talk about the green issues in your office and see if you can get everyone involved in making some practical changes. With staff motivated, here are some top Green Office Week ideas to consider implementing:

  • Reduce unnecessary travel to meetings with Skype and conference call facilities. If you have to travel draw up a travel policy which specifies public transport wherever possible.
  • Consider allowing employees to work from home one day a week. The technology and software to do this is out there so why not use it?
  • Encourage a lift share scheme, not only does it mean fewer cars on the roads but it can also be a more fun and sociable way to start and end the day.
  • Try turning your heating down by just one degree, you’ll be amazed at the saving!
  • Consider switching to energy saving light bulbs, or at the very least make sure lights aren’t continually left on in staff toilets, hallways, corridors and other rooms not in constant use.
  • Investing in new equipment? Why not recycle and offer your old office furniture and equipment to local charities, hostels or schools.
  • Consider switching to recycled stationery and office equipment when the time comes to replace these items. From paper, to labels and even desktop accessories, make a more sustainable choice by opting for recycled products.
  • Reuse old envelopes and parcel packaging; just place an Avery BlockOut™ label over the old address text. 
  • Find out what exactly gets left on over the weekend in the office – it may just surprise you how much energy is being wasted. Think about what could be turned off over the weekend or consider investing in a seven day timer switch to cut unnecessary energy use completely.

Take the Lead

What’s the best way to make sure your staff start implementing some of these ideas? According to this year’s Green Office Week research, the answer is to start practising them yourself and lead by example. The study found that 60% of workers say that, rather than making others feel guilty when they forget to recycle or turn off the lights, a far better way to encourage green behaviour is to lead by example, stating that actions speak louder than words. So start doing what you can around the office and you might just be surprised by how many people soon follow suit.  Other positive strategies identified in this year’s research include helping people to understand the cost benefits of reducing waste and making green behaviour part of everyone’s
job description.

Don’t forget about the fun factor in all of this either. Some of the best ways to raise awareness of environmental issues are to create activities that interest and engage colleagues. Why not invite a local artist to get creative with your office junk, or organise an ‘upcycling’ challenge internally? You could even tell the local press what you’re up to for Green Office Week, or make it part of your company’s social media communications. These sorts of activities can really get employees thinking about green issues in a way that doesn’t have to be all about environmental policies or reminding staff to switch the lights off.

However you decide to champion change in your business - whether it’s a few simple steps, or even setting up a dedicated green team - make sure you try to engage staff at all levels in fun but thought-provoking initiatives like Green Office Week.  This approach is absolutely essential if you really want to encourage more sustainable behaviour in your business and combat wastefulness long-term.

Find out More

Green Office Week takes place 13 – 17 May 2013.  For more ideas and inspiration visit www.greenofficeweek.eu. You can also follow @greenofficeweek on Twitter.