You don’t have to search too hard to find a company flexing its green credentials. There are startups like co-working company Upflex, which plants a tree for every booking it receives. Then there are the industry behemoths. Recently, massive asset-management firm BlackRock announced its plan to shift away from investing in companies that contribute to the climate crisis.
A January report from McKinsey urges companies large and small to take immediate action. “Much as thinking about information systems and cyber-risks has become integrated into corporate and public-sector decision making, climate change and its resulting risks will also need to feature as a major factor in decisions,” observed McKinsey Global Institute Director Jonathan Woetzel, in the report.
Sustainability is a business imperative, and a great place for employers to act on it is in their own workplaces. Creating more sustainable workspaces, i.e. greening the office itself, does carry some benefits beyond a positive climate impact. First of all, energy-efficient workspaces are typically cheaper to operate, so there’s a potential for savings on utilities and maintenance. They’re also more pleasant to work in, which can aid recruiting and retention efforts, especially among environmentally conscious young people. Lastly, greener offices prove a company’s commitment to sustainability, which can be a powerful branding and marketing tool.
No matter what prompts you to approach the issue, it’s evident that tomorrow’s offices can and should have a much smaller environmental impact than they do now. Fortunately, sustainability initiatives won’t force your employees to compromise on comfort or perks. Here are some ideas every company can adopt.
1. Arrange for green days
A company’s carbon footprint includes its employees’s emissions from commuting. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report found that the average U.S. commuter wastes 21 gallons of gas a year sitting in congested traffic. Indeed, the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to climate change, accounting for 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Business travelers are a big part of that. Of course, there are often lower-carbon options than commuting and traveling for business, as remote work and teleconferencing are on the rise.
Green days and similar initiatives aim to reduce the amount of time people spend traveling for work. Employees are allowed to work from home on green days, and the rest of the year, they’re encouraged (even incentivized) to use public transportation and set up interoffice meetings using videoconferencing. All told, there’s a clear business case for green days.