5 Tips on Workplace Sustainability
Employees throughout a number of organizations have begun to return to the office, whether full time or in a hybrid schedule. Recently-released data shows that the number of people who continued to work from home because of the pandemic dropped to 7.7 percent in April, a sharp plunge from the 35.4 percent of workers who performed their duties remotely in May 2020. Another study found that more than one-third of professionals throughout the U.S., Japan, Australia, France, Germany, and the U.K. have resumed working in the office full-time.
Although the return to a new routine is upon us, changes remain afoot for forward-thinking organizations seeking more environmentally responsible working environments for their employees.
Here are some tips on how to create a more sustainable workplace.
1. Smart temperature regulation
A workplace oddity we’ve likely all experienced involves the ways in which buildings overcompensate for the weather outside. It can feel like you’re walking into a meat freezer during a summer heat wave, or like you’ve been teleported to a sauna during the winter. Being overzealous with the AC or cranking up the thermostat can cause unnecessary workplace discomfort and an avoidable strain on the grid.
Instead, consider keeping cool naturally by keeping blinds and windows closed during the day, opening windows at night, and planting trees around your building to create natural shade. You can also install a cool roof, which deflects sunlight and prevents it from warming the building. Another popular hack involves switching out heat-generating incandescent bulbs with LED lights.
2. A kitchen with a conscience
Most workplaces include a kitchenette equipped with a microwave, coffee machine and fridge–and if you open up that door, you’ll find an opportunity to be a better friend to the Earth. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that Americans waste an average of one pound of food a day, representing up to 290 pounds of waste per person each year. Rather than letting spoiled and unwanted office foods go to waste, consider launching a composting program at work to lessen the amount of waste doomed to landfill. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, look to the City of San Francisco, which has diverted 80% of its discarded waste from dumpsters since initiating a composting program in 2012.
Additional environmental efforts within your organization’s kitchen space might include switching out disposable cutlery, plates, and coffee cops for their reusable equivalent. Encourage employees to bring their own mugs, and research sustainable coffee beans to ensure your daily fix is carrying a light footprint. Leaf Score, which ranks products to help consumers make greener choices, offers its take on the most sustainable coffee brands here.
3. Bathroom efficiencies
Water preservation is a must during a time when about 40% of the Lower 48 states are in a drought. According to the National Integrated Drought Information system, 91 million Americans were experiencing drought in June 2022. Your organization can help alleviate the strain of water shortages by upgrading office restrooms with water-efficient sinks, toilets, and urinals. Low flow toilets require 1.28 gallons per flush, 20% less than standard pots and a far cry from the 6 gallons older, inefficient toilets swallow per flush. It’s also important to ensure your bathroom infrastructure is in good condition; a leaky toilet can consume upward of 200 gallons of water per day.
Bathroom sinks can be another area of improvement, with efficient faucets using 30% less water per minute than standard faucets. Meantime, installing a single waterless urinal in the workplace can reduce water usage by up to 45,000 gallons a year, research shows.
Your organization can also consider swapping out your paper towels for cotton or high-efficiency electric dryers. Paper towels can’t be recycled and end up in landfills.
4. Smart computing
Rethinking the way your organization uses, and treats, its computers and other electronic devices can be an easy win for the Earth. Whether you’re encouraging employees to switch laptops to low-battery mode, or put them to sleep when not in use, there’s a number of ways to reduce a device’s environmental strain. You could also equip employees with solar battery charges to keep your computer cache off the grid entirely.
And while it’s always tempting to trade your aging computer systems in for the latest-and-greatest model, it’s better for the environment–and probably your conscience–to show a little commitment. Carnegie Mellon University research shows that between 70-and-80 percent of a device’s carbon footprint is made during its production, underscoring the importance of keeping or repairing a device rather than replacing it.
5. Eliminate unnecessary paper
Another easy way to become more sustainable while working from home is by eliminating the amount of paper you use. DocuSign can help with its e-signature solution, the world’s No. 1 way to sign electronically. By replacing paper with electronic documents, DocuSign customers have created a more eco-friendly environment by reducing the consumption of approximately 55 billion sheets of paper, the equivalent of nearly 6 million trees.
DocuSign eSignature has significantly reduced businesses reliance on traditional, antiquated methods of communication by revolutionizing the way documents are shared, signed and stored. eSignature eliminates the need to print, fax, scan, mail and store paper documents by providing a fast, easy-to-use electronic document signing process.
If you’re looking for other ways to help the environment, read more about the ways in which you can eliminate unnecessary paperwork, and use paper more responsibly when hardcopy documents are needed.
To take your sustainability goals to the next level, register now for a free trial.