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Establish Green Communication With Staff

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 27 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Staff Green Office Supplies Office

The key to the success of a green office policy is the active involvement of all members of staff, and this can be achieved by establishing good communication from the beginning.

A Team Effort

Unquestionably, for a comprehensive green office policy to work effectively it must involve all members of the company working together.

Office environmental policy is special because it needs everyone from the top of the organisation down to the junior office clerks at the bottom of the ladder to play their part.

Whereas senior office management are responsible for making the project happen – in endorsing the environmental policy, supplying the necessary resources and financial aid – the general staff are responsible making it work.

Unlike many workplaces, such as factories, the day-to-day actions of office staff make a significant contribution to the company’s environmental impact.

As a result such simple energy-saving measures as turning off computers before going home and switching off lights can noticeably reduce company wastage. And with small and medium-sized companies wasting £1 billion - or 12 million tonnes of carbon - of the £6 billion they spend each year, their cooperation in any environmentally friendly policy is vital.

It is therefore crucial to the success of a green office policy to maintain good communication between all levels of employee, and at all stages of the process. If employees are to embrace the green initiative, they need to be worked with rather than dictated to.

A Policy Of Transparency

Businesses that have implemented sustainable workplace initiatives and encouraged their staff to get involved have been pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and willingness to support the programme.

Throughout the course regular meetings or briefs should be held and newsletters or email updates sent out, informing everyone what changes are going on, why, when and how they can contribute.

The ideal should be to maintain a policy of transparency throughout. For instance, when the environmental policy is finalised and each action plan drawn up they could be made available to all staff, such as on the company intranet, notice board or newsletter. Employees can only contribute informed suggestions if they are aware of everything that is going on around them.

The relatively recent phenomenon of companies encouraging staff to speak out and tell them what they think is a positive development, but too often employees literally cannot because they work within their own little bubble unaware, and uninterested in anything going on in the rest of the workplace that doesn’t directly affect them. Establishing a green network of communication will help give staff a power and interest beyond their desk.

When To Establish Communication With Staff

The best time to establish a ‘green’ communication with staff members is as early as possible, so that they can gain a better understanding of the whole process and feel a part of it from the beginning. It is a good idea to hold talks or workshops as soon as the initial environmental policy is being drawn up.

As well as establishing a policy of openness rather than secrecy, this will provide an opportunity for staff to contribute invaluable ideas that could be used as part of the action plan. The staff is, after all, better placed than management to understand what’s going on down on the office floor.

Advertising Progress And Achievements

It is important to encourage staff by showing that their efforts are making a difference. Charts and tables documenting the progress in reducing electricity costs and carbon emissions, recycling office supplies, saving water and money, should displayed around the office, and in the reception for clients to see.

If the office has kept its employees at arm’s length and failed to engage with them on the issue of tackling climate change in the workplace beyond dictating new work practices, then such progress reports will spark only a modicum of interest – the employees will have only been passive contributors. However, if a communicative relationship had been established between management and staff then such reports will fill employees with pride and sense of achievement and encourage them to go a step further.

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