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Winning over employees: the importance of a green workspace

When it comes to generation X, millennials and the upcoming iGen — which cumulatively refers to the overwhelming majority of today’s workforce — the subject of sustainability and the environment is a topic close to the hearts of many. According to a study on Millennial employee engagement, around three-quarters of Millennials consider a company’s commitment to environmental and social concerns when they are deciding on where they want to work. That number rises to a massive 88 percent when answering the question of whether being given a chance to make a positive impact in this way makes a job more fulfilling. These trends do not look set to change with the next generation entering the workforce either. A workplace which promotes environmental responsibility and is focused on sustainability is therefore one that is going to appeal to many potential employees. 

The good news: not only will adapting to this do good for the environment and score you major points with potential employees, but it may also prove to be a money saver.

The greening of the workplace

If you think that a “green” office space simply means having a recycling bin next to the water cooler, think again. There’s no shortage of ways you can make your workplace a more sustainable one. 

One clear way to do this is to be careful with how you use electricity. There’s no need for computers, printers and the like to be running continuously day and night. Utilizing energy efficient settings, such as computer monitors which turn off if they’re not use for 10 minutes, is an easy change to make. A more noticeable change would be to design your office space to take advantage of natural sunlight over artificial lights. If you’ve got the luxury of working with an architect to develop your workspace, you may wish to implement design features such as large windows, skylights, and translucent wall panels. 

If you’ve moved your company into an existing space, alterations such as arranging desks around the best sources of natural light can achieve a similar result. When you do need to use artificial lighting, it’s best to favor long-lasting, efficient, environmentally friendly solutions such as LED lighting over the likes of incandescent bulbs. Lights can also be set to timers or, better still, motion sensors can be utilized to ensure that they are only switched on when there is someone present.

Similar sustainability-first approaches can be applied elsewhere. Solar panels can be used for harnessing energy for heating buildings, while green roofs (literally a roof covered partially or completely with vegetation) are both visually striking and capable of providing natural insulation, as well as lessening the burden on drainage systems by absorbing water. Another way to reduce water usage is to incorporate features such as low water flow toilets and low-flow aerators into your sinks, thereby restricting water flow, but without losing any efficiency. Some of this infrastructure may be more expensive to set up, but it has been proven to save money over time.

Catering, meanwhile, is a great way to send a message about the eco-friendly values that you want to promote. Cut down on using meat in the cafeteria, and ditch disposable plastic and paper cups, plates and flatware in favor of reusable ones of the kind you have at home. (While you’re at it, try and ditch paper use elsewhere by using digital documents or, if it’s absolutely necessary to print, utilize recycled paper.)  

Finally, make it easy for employees to lower their carbon footprint when travelling to work. Options like remote working are an extreme example of this, but you can also do you part by helping to organize carpooling and bike to work schemes. Making it easy for employees to do this — for instance, by offering showering and bike storage for people who cycle — will help establish this as behavior that you’re keen to promote.

Sort your seating plan with this mind

There are no shortages of ways for you to rethink your workspace to promote sustainability. While it will certainly take initiative on your part, fortunately the tools are out there to help you reinvent the office environment in this manner.

POC’s Seating Allocation System is an intuitive, efficient, and cost-effective way to manage and rethink your office space. You can experiment with different seating arrangements, while highlighting empty rooms and underutilized space where you might be wasting money (and, as a result, the planet’s natural resources) on unnecessary heating and lighting. The software’s dynamic visualization tools treat the workplace as a “living space” that you can edit and rearrange to your heart’s content. You can even run simulations to see how your changes are likely to play out. 

Having a better understanding of employee seating arrangements and occupancy will help you plan better for everything from supplies to kitchen amenities. We’ll stop short of saying that the Seating Allocation System will help save planet Earth — but it could help move you in the right direction to do your bit, and pull in top talent in the process. 

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