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Sustainability Starts from Home...And at Work

7 months ago by Andrea Amato
Image 2021 06 15 T11 27 45

​Curating a workplace culture that prioritises sustainability and environmental awareness.

As research continues to fight for climate change, organisations are turning to their own green credentials in curating a company culture that supports environmental affairs. Be it through charitable donation or similar philanthropic efforts, the workplace is an important area to adopt sustainable practices. The average employee spends a sizeable amount of their time doing their jobs—approximately one third of their life—making the work environment a sustainable priority.

A number of initiatives and international holidays surround climate efforts to combat already existing environmental degradation, alongside suggestive policy amendments that aim to protect future generations. Perhaps the most intrusive evidence of climate change is global temperature rises, where Earth’s surface temperature rose 1.18 degrees Celsius (2.12 degrees Fahrenheit) higher since the 19th century.

In making a case for increasing sustainable values for jobs in Malta and beyond, evidence serves as the starter toward supporting greener initiatives. The scientific evidence supporting climate change is unequivocal, with many organisations sporting their philanthropy in solidarity. A number of initiatives can be introduced in either small or large organisations, find these suggestions below.

1. Make sustainability a workplace priority

Integrating small changes to the office to support environmental affairs can go a long way. Purchasing a few plants to decorate the space is already an investment towards sustainability, because plants release oxygen and improves air quality. Raanaas et al. (2011) found that employees who worked in an environment that included plants were more productive than workers who did not. In this way, plants are not only an environmental bonus, but also supports employee health and productivity.

If you are unsure of a clear starting point, inspiration for greener offices is vast. Taking a look at Google’s skylights and Microsoft’s treehouse office spaces, these organisations are leaping toward promoting sustainable practices. Albeit these are more costly efforts, it helps inspire and influence other organisations to follow suit. Such changes can be integrated in a number of jobs, ranging from accounting to IT positions.

2. Support flexible working arrangements

One of the most prevalent contributors to global warming are greenhouse gas emissions released from transport. In Europe, the transport industry represents a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions wherein the US this sector represents the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. To place in a familiar context, commute time to and from workplace offices can span for hours depending on location. Supporting flexible work arrangements where employees can work from home is a great start in reducing the companies carbon footprint related to transportation.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the working society shifted to home offices. One of the greatest advantages that came from this is eliminating commuting time altogether. As regulations begin to soften and employees prepare to return to their office environments, many companies are already implementing long-term plans to support a more hybrid model of remote work. This would mean employees share working days between home and the office.

Remote work is a positive initiative for the environment that does not hinder the productivity of employees. In fact, one longitudinal study found that employees reported stable if not increased productivity when working from home. There also seems to be a general want for a hybrid model of work, where a recent study conducted by PwC found that 72% of employees hoped for a mixture between remote and in-office work.

With research leaning support for remote work environments, organisations adopting such practices not only follow current working trends but promote sustainability across a variety of industries. Although not all organisations are capable of offering flexible working hours, other initiatives that involve carpooling, use of public transport, and one-off days when employees can work from home is already a positive sustainable effort.

3. Turn to greener organisations for company supplies

Depending on what’s available to you, a number of options exist when it comes to turning to environmentally committed suppliers. For example, organisations can opt for electricity providers that rely on renewable energy sources. Larger equipment like printers or other electrical appliances can be bought second-hand. For smaller office supplies such as stationary, you can turn to companies that support greener initiatives and source their items responsibly.

Additionally, you want to ensure any equipment purchased is repairable and will last long-term. If your organisation offers food services, such as a cafeteria, packaging can be made compostable and remove the need for excess plastic waste. Other food related initiatives can be promoted—such as Meat Free Monday—a global initiative to help slow climate change by reducing meat consumption.

4. Share your environmental values

Environmental practices should be reiterated in all remote and in-office jobs, and the above portrays a number of examples of how this could be done. That being said, it is important to extend your sustainable values to a wider audience. Social media posts and other employer branding initiatives are a start, however relaying your values to suppliers and other relationships within your corporate network can go a long way.

In holding conversations with suppliers, you can explain your environmental goals and current sustainable practices, involving them in your organisational values. This helps develop long-term relationships with common priorities that can help better your office environment. For new relationships, you can evaluate whether a supplier is right for you and supports similar initiatives before solidifying collaboration.

All in all, climate change remains an important global phenomenon that must be tackled from all fronts. There is a lot more to be done to support our planet and environment, where the workplace can be a frontier in developing sustainable practices, employees can take home. In lending a green hand, we can all do our part in preserving the planet.