A recent survey of 1,000 office workers, commissioned by Avery Green Office Week, revealed that 55% of people say they work with colleagues who either disregard green working practices, or worse, are deliberately wasteful.
Forgetting to recycle, needlessly throwing away paper and leaving computers switched on overnight were just some of the top green issues identified. We’ve all seen these things 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 workplace more sustainable. It’s simply a question of knowing where to start.
This May saw the fifth annual Avery Green Office Week, with offices up and down the country embracing change and taking practical steps to improve their environmental efforts. With this in mind, now is a great time to kick start the green discussion in your office. Get together with colleagues and think about some small changes you can easily begin to implement.
Here are some top Green Office Week suggestions to get you started:
•See if you can find out what gets left on over the weekend in the office – it may just surprise you. Have a chat with the office or facilities manager and see if any changes can be made.
You could suggest investing in a seven-day timer switch to cut unnecessary energy use.
•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.
•Try turning your heating down by just one degree, you’ll be amazed at the saving and your boss will love the reduced heating bill.
•Investing in new equipment? Why not find out about recycling your old office furniture and equipment by offering it to local charities or schools?
•Consider switching to recycled stationery and office equipment when the time comes to replacing these items. From paper to labels and even desktop accessories, make a more sustainable choice by opting for recycled products.
•Have fun with your green efforts – why not invite a local artist or school group to get creative with your office junk? Alternatively organise some internal office upcycling and turn everyday objects you’d normally throw away into something new. You could even make it into a competition or team building exercise.
Take the lead
If you start implementing some of the above ideas you could be surprised by how many of your colleagues soon follow suit too. This year’s Green Office Week study found that leading by example really is essential. 44% of workers say that colleagues who promote green practices can have a tendency to make them feel guilty, with 40% of those saying that this tactic gets “annoying”.
Instead of making individuals feel guilty when they forget to recycle or turn off the lights, a far better way to encourage others to be green is to take the lead. 60% of respondents stated that actions definitely speak louder than words when it comes to being green. Other positive strategies identified include helping people to understand the cost benefits of reducing waste and making green behaviour part of everyone’s job descriptions.
Green Office Week 2013 research shows that attitudes are changing. Despite global economic uncertainty, only 12% of office workers feel that the environment is now less of a priority for their business, with 42% stating the financial crisis has actually increased the need for their workplace to be greener and more resource-efficient. 66% of office workers also say they are more likely to purchase a product if it is environmentally friendly, with 61% saying they would actually feel happier if their workplace was seen to be green.
So getting colleagues to embrace change might not be as hard as you think – but what about senior management? A good way to get through to bosses and managers is to help them realise the financial implications of wasteful behaviour in the office. For instance, 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. Make it clear to staff at the top that the day to day actions of staff really do have a direct impact on business finances, particularly when it comes to utility bills, print and waste costs.
However you decide to champion change in your office – whether it’s a few small steps, or setting up a green team – make sure you try to engage your colleagues and senior management in fun but thought-provoking initiatives like Green Office Week. This approach is absolutely essential if you really want to encourage long-lasting green habits and combat wastefulness in the office.
Find out More
Green Office Week took place on 13-17 May 2013. For more ideas and inspiration visit www.greenofficeweek.eu. You can also follow @greenofficeweek on Twitter. “