Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Let Earth Day be the trigger for workplace sustainability

By Celia Donne, Global Operations Director, Regus

More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  This year, Earth Day falls on April 22nd, a date that will be marked in a variety of ways by individuals, schools and businesses across the globe. 
Certainly, sustainability is a topic that continues to influence the corporate agenda.  The issue is a cause that matters for a lot of employees, especially younger workers. Indeed, past surveys have made a distinct correlation between engagement and socially and environmentally responsible organizations.
Businesses are approaching us with issues of sustainability in mind, recognizing that flexible working arrangements can eliminate the unnecessary carbon emissions, wasted time and loss of productivity associated with a lengthy car journey to the office.  According to research by car insurance provider Elephant, the average UK motorist spends 47 minutes every day commuting to and from work.  This adds up to more than 100 hours a year behind the wheel – not to mention the related impact on the environment.
Staff that work flexibly, using local drop-in and part-time workspace have a far lower carbon footprint than those commuting to a large, permanent office. More and more firms find the old office set-up of one desk per person entirely incompatible with modern work styles. They end up with an expensive office lying empty half the week. Empty desks are bad for business, and bad for the environment.
Those businesses inspired by Earth Day can easily make good intentions a reality, taking advantage of flexible working options to drive sustainability and also to contribute to improved employee well-being and productivity.
Regus has a few tips for employers considering offering flexible work options to their employees:
  • Engage with your staff: Learn more about their individual requirements, understanding that there will likely be a broad range of requests. This will help create and shape the office flexible work policy.
  • Consider alternate work location options: Long commutes increase stress while decreasing employee productivity and happiness. Allowing an employee to work from home or drop in to a nearby business centre will improve work-life balance and lower commuting expenses. It also promotes a greener corporate culture.
  • Measure performance by output: Managing remote employees definitely requires an adjustment but the process is made easier when clear goals and benchmarks are established. These goals allow managers to focus on the quality of the work being delivered and less on micro-managing.
  • Change your communication style: Make sure employees are given the right tools for success while working from alternate locations. Invest in technology options like web-based project management programs and video conferencing to help them stay up-to-date on projects and office happenings.

Sometimes, an event like Earth Day provides the necessary trigger for businesses to put long-held plans around sustainability into action. The resulting benefits can be more far-reaching than expected.

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