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How can I make a greener workplace?

How can I make a greener workplace?

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If you discovered there was a foolproof way to save your organisation money and in the process, boost it's popularity, you'd do it, right?

Welcome to the world of green business.

More and more consumers and customers are now looking for companies with green policies to buy from, work for and invest in.

By publicly demonstrating your commitment to going green and reducing your organisation's carbon footprint, you enhance your brand image, attract new clients, enjoy higher profits through lower operating costs, whilst benefiting from improved productivity, staff morale and retention.

There's even more good news for the green-thinking. You will, of course, be protected to a great extent from energy price hikes. As it becomes more and more of a legislative issue, you will also be shielded from increased insurance rates, and shareholder or community concerns.

There are thousands of changes you can make of your organisation, some requiring very little effort at all.

You could put a carbon footprint calculator on your intranet so your employees can see and manage the carbon costs they incur at work and at home. You could donate a percentage of your profits or revenue to an environmental cause. You could change your light bulbs to low energy and ask staff not to leave their computers on stand-by at night.

Perhaps the most important starting point to going greener, though, is to change your thinking.

Start to define the value of what you make or do as more than purely financial. Start to analyse the benefit not only to your customers, but also to society and the environment.

Of course, there are other more practical measures you can take:

  • Recycle – Contribute as little as possible to landfill. Find ways to reduce and reuse office equipment wherever possible.
  • Review – Unless you know what you're paying now, you won't know how much change you create. Look at your lighting and heating. Can you make low energy substitutions from light bulbs to solar panels?
  • Revise – Transport has a huge impact on the bottom line for many businesses. If you use company cars, have you considered switching to hybrids? Look to introduce a public transport policy for less time-critical missions.
  • Research – Look into more environmental cleaning products and introducing more plants into the work environment. Are there more environmentally friendly suppliers to source from?

More efficient practices naturally lead to savings in time, energy, labour and materials, and this is especially true if increased sales and productivity are factored into the equation. So make sure your staff, your clients and customers know what you're up to. Shout it from the rooftops!

As green issues becomes ever more a consideration for consumers in where and how we shop, eat, travel and stay, companies recognise not going green has the potential not only to damage their brand, but also to lose vital sales.

Socially responsible, greener businesses can be more profitable ones, and more attractive ones to work for.

Discuss this issue on The Employer Forum.