Eco Friendly, Money Saving Solutions: Offices
Eco-friendly policies are a must-have for businesses worldwide. This is due to consumers becoming increasingly wary about working with companies that have a high environmental impact. With climate change targets being set in legal stone; businesses must now strive to be more environmentally friendly, lest they suffer the consequences.
This is the second of a series of industry-focused guides about measures you can take to be a lean, green business and hopefully save some cash!
Why Should My Office Be Green?
An increased interest in green office life can have an astounding impact on your company’s progress, the environment and could even save you money. Being green can actually increase workforce productivity, as well as obviously attracting more of the ever-growing mass of eco-friendly customers!
What Environmentally Friendly Measures Can I Take To Save Money?
Tip 1: Get Green Fingers
Fact: Having a plant in your office or on your desk has been proven to improve productivity and focus.
Having plants around your office improves air quality by removing volatile organic compounds, which are harmful organic chemicals that have high pressure at room temperature. These chemicals can cause the following among your workforce after just a minimal amount of exposure:
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Nausea / Vomiting
- Worsening of asthma symptoms
Volatile organic compounds can be found on a variety of things that may reside in your office such as carpets, air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics, newspapers and photocopiers. Having plants around can absorb these chemicals. People are even said to have recovered from illness faster by having a plant in the room, proving that plants and clean air really can improve health.
Having plants around can also be beneficial for the reduction of stress. A Surrey University student named Helen Russell tested this theory by giving participants in an experiment a difficult test to do. She then monitored the scores achieved in a room full of plants and a room that had no plants. During the test, the blood pressure, skin conductivity and heart rate of each participant was measured to signify stress levels. From the measurements taken, skin conductivity gave the largest variation between the groups. Russell's findings show how plants ease stress by at least this metric, and that participants recover from stress more quickly in a plant-heavy environment.
Another study that proved plant presence to be beneficial to office workers was completed by getting participants to take a test in rooms with and without plants. Findings showed that productivity increased by 12% in the presence of plants, as well as this, 10% of participants who completed the test in the plant room said they felt more attentive.
Increased productivity of staff means you’re getting better value for the money that you’re spending on wages, which could directly increase profit. All for the sake of a few plants!
Tip 2: Digitalise
We are in the midst of the digital age so why not utilise that to help your business save money by going digital and being tech savvy?
Computers are a must-have as far as most offices are concerned, so there’s no avoiding the urgent need to use them. However, there are ways we can cut electricity costs by simply getting into a few good habits such as putting your computer in sleep mode. The Climate Savers Computing Initiative recommends you program your computers to automatically do the following (which could save you money on your business electricity bills):
- Program your monitor and display to go into sleep mode after 15 minutes or less of inactivity
- Set your PC to switch hard drives off after 15 minutes or less of inactivity
- Time your computer to go into standby or sleep mode after 30 minutes or less of inactivity
- Putting your computer into sleep mode saves 60-70% of the electricity that would have been used if it was on
Try This: Calculate how much it costs to run your businesses computers with the following equation:
Watts x Hours Used x Cost Per Kilo Watt Hour x Number of computers = Total Cost
1000 (This can be found on your bill)
Refraining from printing where possible, or changing your printing habits, can save you a stack of cash, as well as the environment. Try to use less paper, electricity and ink (which is actually a more expensive liquid than Champagne!)
- Double-sided printing could half the cost of paper
- There’s officially no excuse for using non-recycled paper! By completing a quick search on Google for a box of 2,500 sheets of paper (recycled and not recycled) we found that there was absolutely no cost difference whatsoever - they were both £0.99
- Ask customers and other staff members alike if they would prefer a digital or paper copy of any documents that you consider printing
Tip 3: Telecommuting
This is an increasingly popular option for office-based workers to save time and money for staff and the business that they work for. To allow staff to work from home where possible, you simply need to make resources accessible online. Here’s just a few of the benefits of this method of working:
It’s estimated that businesses could save in excess of £7,000 per employee they allow to telecommute per year. This is made up by a variety of office running costs. Telecommuting could also save your employees some cash on things like their commute, office clothing and lunches, resulting in a happier, and by extension, more productive workforce as well as saving you money on your electricity bill.
Telecommuting enables each employee that does it to be situated in a more comfortable environment that suits them, therefore they will get more work done. There is also the added factor of fewer distractions because, aside from the occasional bit of office banter, there is very little need for face-to-face engagement with co-workers when other communication channels are readily available. This isn’t to say that employees communicating in the vicinity of each other isn’t good for building strong relationships within your workforce, but putting aside chitter chatter, it doesn’t actually accomplish much for your company.
Research by the Consumer Electronics Association found that telecommuting currently saves enough energy to power 1,000,000 homes each year from the reduction of the energy it takes to power your office and employees not having to commute. This can reduce both yours and your employees’ Carbon Footprint creating a difference and making life easier for everyone!
Tip 4: Switch Your Energy The Smart Way:
Using a business like Love Energy Savings to find the best deal in the market can be extremely beneficial to your business by way of reducing overheads. Love Energy Savings has over 45,000 customers and therefore can command the best rates in the market from suppliers, using combined buyer power. This works out as being cheaper than going direct to the supplier or negotiating with your existing supplier yourself.
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Tip 5: Casual Dress
This tip is good for energy saving all year round. Employees that can wear pretty much what they want will dress to suit the weather - hot or cold. This means that they are more comfortable as they are dressed for the temperature that they want to be at whilst working and are therefore more productive. Also you could end up spending less on heating and air conditioning because your employees will already be prepared for the temperature.
Tip 6: Transport
Car travel is responsible for nearly one-quarter of climate change emissions and general air pollution. The daily commute is a massive contributor to the amount of pollutants caused by cars; therefore businesses need to do what they can to help reduce the indirect environmental impact of their operations.
This could be done by implementing a cycle-to-work or travel buddy scheme within your office. Car sharing could halve the cost of petrol from commuting for your employees and could also half the emissions employees emit on their commute. This could result in them having more disposable income, being happier and therefore possibly more productive!
The cycle-to-work scheme is a tax-free government loan scheme that promotes a healthier workforce. Exercise before work has been found to improve mood and reduce stress, so employees can be more level headed and focused when they get to the office.
If you want to know more about the cycle-to-work scheme, follow the link: http://bit.ly/cycle2workscheme
Note: Be sure that you have appropriate cleansing facilities for staff before encouraging cycling to work. A smelly office is a demotivated office - being the employee causing a whiff doesn’t exactly inspire building relationships or comfort and therefore could have an adverse effect on your workforce.
Tip 7: Become An Energy Star
This is just one example of the type of equipment and trademarks that you should look for when purchasing in order to achieve the lowest running cost possible for your business. The energy star trademark can be found on a range of equipment that could be situated in an office such as: computers, printers, servers and kitchen appliances - even the building that you work in!
Energy Star is representative of the international standard for environmentally-friendly products that generally use 20 – 30% less energy than their less carbon-efficient counterparts. Equipment that uses less energy can help with the reduction of your electricity spend and in turn save you money.
Tip 8: Natural Light
Light is a necessary component of vision and is responsible for 80 to 85% of our perception of the world around us. Both dim and bright lighting can be just as detrimental as each other regarding productivity, as they can negatively affect the mood, motivation, productivity and overall job satisfaction of your employees, resulting in less getting done and even the possibility of a higher staff turnover.
Natural light is proven to make employees more comfortable in the workplace
Natural light sources release endorphins and serotonin (happy hormones). This makes employees more alert, happier and aids their rest once their hard day is over and done with – all factors that could improve productivity.
The benefits of natural light are illustrated by a study conducted on a dementia sufferer, the result of which showed that being exposed to enough sunlight actually improved their mental abilities by 10%. Professor Russell Foster, who conducted the study, believes that in modern life most of us are light deprived and are therefore not working to our maximum capacity:
‘When you are exposed to 1,000 lux, you are getting enough light for full alertness. But in many ways we are light deprived, with the average office lighting only producing 300 lux, which is less than we need.’
Note: Purchasing blinds to direct sunlight upwards prevents rooms from overheating and minimises glare on computer screens.
Tip 9: The Clichés:
Recycling - This could reduce the amount that you spend on waste disposal as well as your environmental impact.
Eco-friendly bulbs - Number of bulbs x 3 = £ Total amount you could save per year.
Switch it off - Fact: Leaving equipment on standby can cost you a lot of money!
Leaving equipment on standby is accountable for around 1/100th of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, as well as being the cause of about 15% of domestic energy use.
There has been government legislation introduced to try and combat this. It regulates equipment so that new devices only have a standby mode use of 1 watt of electricity per hour. If the device complies with this new law it will use 1KWH for every 1,000 hours that it’s running on standby. That means per year it will use up to 8.76KWH. That’s approximately £1.20 per device per year being wasted by equipment doing absolutely nothing. It may not seem like a lot but if you add it up over a couple of years, the amount of wasted money could be phenomenal.
If your equipment is older than this legislation then it’s highly likely that the cost is a lot higher. This is money that could be invested in something else going straight down the drain.
Implement just a few of these measures and it could really make a difference in the reduction of your business energy bills and operation costs. This could also be a step towards an eco-friendly accreditation that could give you the edge over your competition and, accompanied by the money that could be saved from just a few improvements, it could be the difference between you getting your business to where it wants to be or gathering the finance for that new project you’ve wanted to embark upon.
Start saving money for your business now!
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