Over the past decade, sustainability has become a hot topic in society and at work. But, sustainability is more complex than it might seem. At work, organizations have increased their focus on being “green”. Many do this through recycling, reducing energy consumption, or trying to use less water. However, people are also a sustainable resource. When your employees are happy and healthy, your company has a higher net positive social impact in the world. People, planet, and profits can go hand in hand. But, you have to be deliberate about your actions. Below we provide tips for enhancing your sustainability at work!
Enhance Sustainability by Reducing Your Footprint
First, you can conserve resources by using less energy. You can reduce the number of lights you leave on, or unplug electronics when they aren’t in use. If you’re in a shared office space, you can leave reminders for employees about ways they can save energy. Or you can use motion sensors for lights to ensure that energy isn’t wasted when no one is in the room. Try to create a paperless workplace as well! By role modeling sharing agendas for meetings electronically, instead of printing them, for example, you can show others how to waste less.
If you are remote working, you can still have a positive impact on the planet. Encourage employees to consider how they might reduce their own energy usage at home. Have challenges to see who can come up with the most creative ways to promote sustainability from home. While you may not be paying their energy bills, the culture of sustainability might permeate other things you do. For example, when you do have to meet in person from time to time, folks might carpool or taking public transportation, instead of driving individually to meetings. Overall, it is a good thing for everyone to be more sustainable, so promoting these behaviors is useful even if you’re not working in an office setting!
Sustainability through Health and Well-Being for Employees
Second, you need to think about your employees as a sustainable resource. Are your employees tired and depleted all the time? Or are they energized and vital? If it’s the former, you are not driving sustainability in your workforce. There are some ways to provide an energizing work environment for employees. Putting lots of plants in the office can help to drive more healthy mindsets and better moods. Providing nutritious snacks can also help to ensure that your employees have the energy to perform well. Also, encouraging employees to get outside and move around every now and again is also key. If you don’t allow employees to replenish their energy in a healthy way throughout the day, their work will suffer.
If employees are remote, this doesn’t mean you can throw their sustainability out the window. Encourage employees to take breaks between meetings. Don’t book meetings back to back all day on their calendars! Role model blocking a lunch break. Make it normative for employees to take non-video walking meetings, when they don’t need access to their computers. We have talked about the importance of taking breaks before. If you’re not a manager, try your best to do these things for yourself. Get some plants for your desk! Keep snacks that make you feel energized on hand. Patricia and I just got treadmills for under our desks. So, we are trying to encourage each other to move more throughout the day! Whatever make you feel happy and healthy, prioritize it.
Be a Little Better Each Day!
It can seem overwhelming to flip the switch on sustainability if you haven’t tried these tips before. But, it’s not about being perfect. It’s just about getting a little better each day. Start with something small. Try to make sure you turn off the light in your workspace every time you leave the room. Or try to add a fifteen minute break to your calendar each day. You don’t need to do everything at once!
Once you get used to your new habit, add another one. You can slowly become more sustainable. If you’re a manager, you can do the same. Start with something small that everyone can get on board with. Once the new habit “sticks”, move on to something else! Being sustainable is about having a long-lasting journey. You can get to where you want to be little by little!