Green offices are becoming more and more common. Once a rarity, they were expensive to run and therefore only favoured by very wealthy companies, or those with a specific environmental angle. They are now affordable – in fact they may be even more cost effective to run than a traditional office. What’s more, employees are beginning to demand them. By benefiting worker health and wellbeing, they boost productivity and employee happiness. And as we face a climate emergency, with melting ice caps and global warming, everyone needs to do their bit for Mother Earth. Green offices are clearly the way forward, and ever more popular, so let’s see what the appeal is for many businesses.
What constitutes a green office?
A green office means imposing a structure on your workspace which encourages environmental responsibility and resource efficient practices, often incorporating recycled materials and waste reduction methods. Its aim is to create a healthy working environment, conserve energy and reduce pollution. There are a number of methods that can be employed to achieve ‘greenness’ such as positioning of windows and office layout to make the most of natural light, encouraging paperless or paper reduced office practices, improving air quality with specialised ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems, as well as designing the building to reduce energy expenditure. In terms of employee happiness and wellbeing, management of aspects such as colour temperature and even decor can constitute components of a green office.
The obvious plus point of a green office is a lessened negative impact on the environment. Offices use a lot of electricity and need to be temperature controlled, and effective management of this creates an energy efficient workspace with a smaller carbon footprint. Alternative energy is now more affordable than ever, with specialised valves on the market to help reduce carbon emissions – this leads to cleaner air and water. With modern technology available and less costly, the need to use reams and reams of paper is diminished, and many offices operate a paperless policy, preferring to view documents on tablets or smartphones. Faxing and photocopying are becoming obsolete technologies, and with powerful servers replacing filing cabinets, the need for print outs is greatly reduced. Where paper is required, green offices opt for recycled materials.
Happiness = productivity
Multiple studies have made clear the link between employee wellbeing and increased productivity. Happier workers are better workers, and tend to have greater energy levels throughout the day. Regulating temperature, improving air quality, introducing green spaces and the maximising of natural light all has a knock-on effect on how productive a workforce is, and how valued they feel as employees. Most green offices have a balanced layout, with relaxation and break areas with variable colour temperature (usually yellow light) and dedicated workspaces with whiter light or natural light. Cycle to work schemes are common to enable workers to purchase high quality bicycles, turning their commute into an emission free, endorphin boosting event, rather than a monotonous energy sapping slog in the car or on public transport. Studies also show that having a view of nature boosts employee satisfaction, and well designed acoustics make a workspace a much more pleasant place to be.
It used to be that green offices were expensive to set up and maintain. And while its true that there are some upfront costs to take into account if you’re converting an office into a green workspace, there are government incentives and grants designed to help you do so. If you’re building an office from the ground up, it isn’t difficult or costly to adapt your plans to go green. With the lack of overheads for paper and other wasteful materials, and the fact that alternative energy is becoming a cost-effective alternative, green offices pay dividends. And add to that the increase in employee productivity, and employee retention, you’re looking at massive savings in the long run.
Read More: Better Lighting For Green Buildings
Your brand image can only benefit from operating a green office. It’s the respected choice in modern business, and while it may seem shallow or missing the point to say so, going green is trending.
Green offices are becoming more widespread. And as the set up costs diminish, and productivity rates soar, don’t be surprised to see them fully usurp less efficient, traditional workspaces.