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Promoting Sustainable Working Practices

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 21 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
Promoting Sustainable Working Practices

For a successful green office policy it needs to receive the backing of both management and staff and be actively promoted as the way forward.

Just like any major new business initiative, a sustainable office policy requires management backing, adequate funding and the acceptance of employees for it to take flight.

The Importance of the Environment Policy

The first stage of any green office initiative, and the foundation stone for the whole project, is the environment policy. This project standard bearer promotes to staff, suppliers, customers and the regular consumer the environment ideals the company is now committed to upholding.

It is therefore important that the policy is approved whole heartedly by the company chief executive, or other equivalent member of senior management. They must not only commit to the new ideals in mind but also in action, by providing real support and provision of staff resources. Without this active patronage of the project from on high, it will be difficult ignite and maintain employee enthusiasm and commitment to greening the workplace.

Staff Commitment

Perhaps more than most other business initiatives, the success of a green office policy is dependent on its adoption by staff. In fact the aim should be not only to get employees to accept the new motions but actively embrace them and champion the ideals they promote.

It is said that most staff would willingly adopt sustainable working practices as long as management are the ones to first take the initiative and adopt a strategic approach to cultivating a greener office environment. The next step in winning the favour of employees and building up enthusiasm is to promote the new initiatives by raising awareness about their importance to the environment and the ease with which they can make a difference.

Many companies that have successfully implemented sustainability initiatives have won over their staff by staging talks by local members of Friends of the Earth, screening environmental films such as Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and holding departmental discussions about their opinions on green issues – all within working hours of course!

Good communication is key to getting everyone on board, and maintaining it is key to them staying on board. The implementation should therefore also involve explaining to staff why, how and what is to happen and when. And also it should include training days and workshops to teach staff how to adopt the new measures effectively.

Enthusiasm Sustainability

It’s all well and good getting a sustainability project off to a flying start in a flurry of films, talks and incentives but if it’s brushed aside once the initial excitement wears thin then it will fail in its aims. It is an ongoing programme that needs to maintain consumer enthusiasm and commitment.

One crucial way of doing this is to not let employees forget about the new initiatives by providing visible reminders in the form of a poster campaign. The Carbon Trust has created a series of eye-catching and catchy posters and stickers that encourage staff to adopt simple energy efficient actions in the office.

Environment Targets and Rewards

Another key tactic is to monitor the effects the new methods are having on the environment and regularly publish the results around the office in the form of notices and charts.

This demonstrates to staff the effect that their seemingly minor measures are having and will encourage them to keep on with their efforts, and even boost them. Setting specific targets – such as a certain bi-annually reduction in carbon emissions – with rewards for succeeding is also a great way to keep staff motivated.

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