Widespread flooding across the UK and extreme weather in other parts of the world have been linked to climate change by scientists. Experts have long warned that we need to reduce our carbon footprint to prevent environmental damage and recent events have pushed the issue into the spotlight once more.
Businesses are being put under increasing pressure to do more to help the environment. Many companies are enforcing green initiatives to offset the carbon footprint of their enterprise. For instance, Clearance Solutions follow a reuse and recycling protocol and save far more CO2 than they produce, while the SAP recruitment agency Eursap have pledged to plant a tree in The National Forest for every consultant placed.
Green office design has gone from niche enterprise to major industry. The relationship between people and the building in which they are working is vital. A recent study found that having a sustainable workplace can boost employee health and productivity which in turn enhances financial performance.
From energy efficiency to lower levels of absenteeism, here are three reasons why having a green office boosts business performance:
Having an energy efficient office can cut bills by 20 per cent
Investing in new office equipment that has better energy efficiency can reduce energy consumption by 70 per cent. Alternatively, cheaper and simpler measures such as using energy-saving light bulbs, switching off office equipment and using the correct setting of room temperatures could cut office bills by up to 20 per cent.
It is important to utilise as much natural light as possible. Not only does this reduce an office’s reliance on artificial lighting, it can increase the productivity of employees. People who work in artificial light are more likely to feel fatigue while those who work in natural light are able to concentrate for longer.
Open Workspace Design have discussed the correlation between exposure to natural light during work hours and sleep, activity and quality of life. Workers exposed to natural light during work hours sleep for an average of 46 minutes more each night than those who are not.
Temperature can also have a profound effect on the environment, employee productivity and office costs. Reducing room temperatures by just 1°C can cut office fuel consumption by around 8 per cent and save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of A4 paper.
Telecommuting cuts office space costs and decreases carbon footprint
Since office-to-residential permitted development rights were made permanent, office space in major UK cities has become more expensive and harder to find. Vacant property security companies like Oaksure Property Protection can heavily reduce expensive business rates adding even more value to property.
In response, many businesses are tapping into the potential of the flexible workspace. By allowing employees to telecommute or hot desk, the need for permanent office space is reduced. Embracing flexible office space or renting short-term lets when required can help a business to avoid soaring office costs.
Employees need little encouragement to telecommute, 36 per cent of people would shun a pay rise in favour of being able to work from home. Allowing staff to telecommute instead of driving into work could also reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tons a year.
Digital technology has made telecommuting much simpler. Cloud-based services allow employees to exchange and collaborate on work electronically, allows a business to cut costs on storage while also helping the environment by going paperless. For instance contractor accountants 3 Wise Bears uses cloud-based accounting software that allows home businesses and freelancers to keep on top of finances without needing face-to-face meetings with their accountant.
Improving office air quality leads to lower levels of absenteeism
More than 130 million workdays are lost in the UK each year through sickness absence, costing businesses an estimated £32 billion. One of the main causes of illness outbreaks in the workplace is poor air quality.
Many modern office blocks have not been designed to effectively circulate air. Without adequate ventilation, airborne toxins and contaminants build-up in the atmosphere increasing the spread of germs. The air inside an office can often be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside.
Air conditioning can be used to regulate air quality but a more eco-friendly and energy-saving solution is to introduce plants to the office. Certain varieties absorb toxic compounds commonly found in offices such as benzene and formaldehyde. Studies have found employees are 15 per cent more productive when plants are present and have improved performance on a number of aspects such as memory retention.