The covid pandemic changed the way we work forever. But how do we design sustainable and green offices for the future?
As most of us are aware, the world is facing some serious ecological pressure from toxic pollution in our air, plastic waste consuming our oceans and an unsustainable and inefficient agricultural system, just to name a few. In response to these issues, there has been a growing movement in the most recent years with people making more and more of an effort to move towards a more conscious and sustainable living.
In the corporate world we have also observed a shift in mentality with more initiatives supporting green offices and more natural exposure. From April 18th to 22nd we now celebrate the Green Office Week in many areas around the world, an event designed to highlight the issues we face in our office spaces when it comes to sustainability, and urge employees to take further action and adopt practical ways of sustaining the environment.
This initiative urges businesses to introduce new policies, begin recycling and reducing their waste, or implement more eco-friendly products and practices. Although this may only bring a small change to your office design, these small actions are part of a larger solution that will lead to a more profound long-term change.
How to design Green Offices?
Greener, more natural offices are the new trend for the corporate world, regardless of whether you work from your home office, a small businesses or a major company.
The main idea behind the development of green offices is to limit their carbon footprint while nurturing a healthier and happier environment for the people in the workspace. This not only has been shown to improve the ergonomic design of the office, but also to add numerous side benefits to the business as a whole.
Sustainable green offices aim to equip their employees with tools and resources that will help them live greener little by little. As a simple example, installing energy efficient lightbulbs which produce more light for less energy, emit less heat and last longer than the standard light bulb can have a quite profound impact, despite being a relatively small change to introduce to your office space.
Going paperless is another practical strategy easy to implement if you want to develop a greener office. While most companies have gone – or are going – digital, some documents are still preferred on paper in many workplaces. However, there are many simple steps you can take to use even less paper, such as scanning important forms and documents and keeping them secure as digital forms, emailing forms to clients and using e-sign software, or even asking vendors and suppliers to offer e-statement invoices rather than the regular paper statements. A paperless strategy is something all companies should be employing in today's digital world.
Having said this, making these eco-friendly adjustments in your home office or a workplace may initially result in higher costs, nevertheless, with energy-efficiency and sustainability being a major priority for the world right now, the true cost and environmental savings will be fully realized over time.
What are the benefit of Green Offices?
Transforming a traditional workplace into a greener and more sustainable space following ergonomic office design principles is shown to have positive effects on the business as a whole, such as:
A 2014 research by the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that productivity amongst workers could be improved by as much as 15% if healthy potted plants were placed in office spaces. This study revealed that the increased productivity was a consequence of lower stress and anxiety levels thanks to the exposure to nature. With employee satisfaction being such a huge driver in a company's long-term success, adding plants and greenery to the workspace seem like a clear and simple adjustment to create a greener office design.
While the positive impacts of exposure to nature on productivity is clear, many important physical effects are still quite unknown to many. Plants have the ability to filter the air from dangerous pollutants that can be the root cause of allergic reactions, lung damage, breathing issues, and many other health related to indoor air pollution.
Enhancing customer and employees experience
With the digital world being the main channel between businesses and customers these days, customers have come to expect easy and simplified digitization practices from their trusted brands. By employing paperless strategies, you will likely be making the shift to using digital forms which will unintentionally help your business in keeping up with the growing demands of a new generation of eco-conscious consumers.
Adding plants and greenery to your workspace will also create a much more welcoming environment. Studies have actually shown that shops with abundant plant-life are more likely to be frequented more often by customers, which will typically result in higher sales as well. Whether it be potential business clients or end consumers, the positive benefits of transforming your office space to be more green through the use of biophilic design are sure to not go unnoticed.
Improved company image
While it is crucial for business to understand the tastes and preferences of their customers, they should also be paying close attention to their employee's needs and desires. An eco-conscious brand in today's world is sought after by the types of intellectual and purpose-driven individuals that are crucial to a company's success in the long run, no matter what industry you work in.
How Covid-19 impacted the environment
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused major issues for many businesses, the shift from large commercial offices to work-from-home spaces turned out to have quite positive effects on the environment. This challenge forced us to be more resourceful, which led to the rapid digitalization of workplace practices, reducing the amount of people commuting to work everyday, and eliminating the costs and energy waste of huge office spaces.
As we shift to work-from-home spaces and home office environments even more, the importance of ergonomic office design gains increasing importance by the day. Beyond the standing desk or lumbar supportive chair, we should be making an effort to equip our home offices with environmentally conscious solutions such as optimized lighting, and invest in more sustainably made products. Through these simple techniques, you can easily transform your space into a green office and be a part of a global community making an effort to change.
A conclusive note
Working from home became the norm for many people. While there are many challenges that come with remote work, a well-designed green office will make your life better. You’ll get a place where you can focus and be productive, without having to leave the comfort of your home.
As we rethink our spaces and lives after the pandemic, we must learn from our past mistakes and improve the way we connect with the environment around us.