In this day and age, sustainability has rapidly become something we’re all more aware of, with many of us making small changes to our lifestyle in order to do our bit. However, if you’re a business owner, you may be wondering what changes you can make to your organisation.
Exactly how can a business be more sustainable?
Believe it or not, environmentally friendly business practices are a lot easier to implement that you might think, such as using technology to reduce the amount of paper that’s processed and help your employees work flexibly.
We’ve seen examples of how small changes to our general lifestyle can make a difference, and it’s the same principle when it comes to creating a sustainable business.
To help you, we’ve put together eight simple ways that you can action to make your business a more sustainable one.
1. Work from home
While it may not be an option for everyone, small changes such as working from home will help you do your bit towards creating a green business. Not only does working from home mean less time sat in traffic (therefore less pollution), it also means less time wasted in general.
Depending on the nature of your business, you could even offer your employees the option of flexible working or/and the chance to work from home one day a week too, which you can guarantee they’ll be grateful for.
2. Changing transport
If working from home isn’t an option, looking at and changing how you and your employees get to work is still one of the best environmentally friendly business practices.
While not everyone will be able to swap the car keys for the cycle helmet, opting to offer your staff employee benefits such as the Cycle to Work scheme is a great way to promote a more sustainable way of travelling to work.
3. Go paperless
A simple but effective way to create a more sustainable business is to go paperless (or reduce the amount of paper that is processed). More organisations are jumping on board the paperless wagon. Why?
It helps to reduce waste, saves time filing and organising documents, and will even save money too.
Going electronic with any documents is also a way to boost security, especially with the need to stay compliant with the GDPR, and will make transferring information much easier.
Try using payroll software for an effective way to ease you into the transition of going paperless, when it comes to managing your people processes.
You will be able to access those all important documents on any device without having to sift through stacks of paper, and your employees can securely receive their P60s and payslips online too.
4. Remove single use products
Do you have a water dispenser with plastic cups in your office? What about paper towels in the toilets or single serve coffee pods? Doing away with single use products such as these can make a huge difference in your organisation’s bid to go green.
In some cases it may not be possible to do away with these products completely, for example, if your water dispenser is accessible to customers or clients. In these cases, it’s always worth making an eco-friendly swap if you can, such as switching to paper cups instead of plastic.
5. Reuse and recycle
If going paperless and removing plastic cups among other things isn’t quite possible, you can still give your business a sustainability boost by ensuring you have good recycling facilities that are easily accessible.
Separate bins for plastics, glass and paper are good places to start, and there are a number of companies that will recycle things such as ink and toner cartridges.
Ensure both sides of pieces of paper are used when it comes to note taking and printing too, as this will also help to reduce the amount of paper your business uses.
6. Work with local suppliers
Another step towards a sustainable business is to work with local suppliers when you can. This not only will support your local community but also reduces mileage used when it comes to delivery, which will contribute towards reducing pollution.
It can be tempting to go for cheap and cheerful prices offered by big chain suppliers, but if you build up good relationships with other local businesses, it can work in your favour and there may even be a few discounts involved.
You never know, your business may even be able to offer them something in exchange.
Remember, even if you only switch to getting your office milk delivered rather than popping to the supermarket, you’re still supporting the local community. Small changes make a big difference.
7. Switch to eco-friendly products
Making changes to the smaller aspects of your business can extend even to cleaning and bathroom products when it comes towards going green.
It’s no secret that many cleaning products are packed with chemicals that can be harmful to the environment, but thankfully eco-friendly alternatives are becoming much more popular.
Opt for switching to green cleaning products in communal areas such as your staff break room, and look at replacing bathroom soaps with a cruelty free alternative.
A lot of these cleaners and soaps are still antibacterial too, so there’s no worry that you’ll be compromising the hygiene of your workplace either.
8. Give back to the local community
Sustainability doesn’t just come down to recycling and going paperless – it’s more than that.
We mentioned supporting the local community as a step towards becoming a more sustainable business, but why not go a step further and support a local charity?
Consider having a collection box for spare change in communal areas, and once it’s full you can donate it to a charity of your choice. You could even arrange a fundraising event or take part in any charity campaigns you’re passionate about.
By carrying out small actions such as giving back, working with local suppliers and recycling, this will get your business on the right track when it comes to being more sustainable.
In addition, the beauty of technology means that we now have even more measures available to us that will make this possible, along with presenting extra benefits too.
Not only do business software solutions allow organisations to reduce the amount of paper processed, but they also have the potential to bring with them additional convenience, flexibility and increased productivity for all involved.
It’s a win-win for both business owners and their employees, as well as taking steps towards creating a more sustainable business.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2020 and has been updated for relevance.
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