Efficiency Through Office Sustainability:
Every office leader strives for optimum efficiency. If you can boost productivity and your bottom line through office sustainability, you must be doing something right. Although there is debate surrounding the meaning of productivity at work, it’s undeniable that it is based on a tangible outcome. Productivity involves how much work your employees put in for a measurable amount of time.
However, more work doesn’t always equal efficiency. Efficiency is the optimization of your business’s resources to achieve a goal. Often, that resource is time and the goal is monetary but other outcomes factor into the overarching health of your business. Improving workplace efficiency can look like solid time management, interdepartmental collaboration, and even a comfortable office environment. It can, and should, also include office sustainability.
Workplace efficiency and sustainability can have a mutually beneficial relationship. Eco-friendly business upgrades have the potential to streamline processes if implemented correctly. The appeal of a greener business extends beyond benefitting the environment. After making these changes, you can reasonably expect to see:
- Improved company culture;
- Greater employee retention;
- Enhanced recruitment;
- Easier regulation compliance;
- Better brand perception;
- Competitive advantages;
- Tax benefits;
- Lower costs;
- Greater innovation and creative output;
- Increased productivity.
These enhanced business aspects are ripple effects of implementing green practices. Consider the following tactics to optimize your business sustainably.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) provide detailed guidelines for routine business operations. To make your SOPs sustainable, you have three main goals:
- Financial viability;
- Environmental friendliness;
- Social responsibility.
If you already have SOPs in place, it’s encouraged to give them a refresh. While it’s tough to break tradition, sometimes all you need is a few tweaks here and there to make a big difference.
Office Sustainability and Initial Audit
First, take a look at how your current SOPs are performing and how they serve your business, its employees, and the environment. If you don’t have formal SOPs, you can still conduct an audit of operations. Do a walkthrough of daily operations at the office and any applicable facilities. Talk to employees about what’s working and where they could see improvement. Take a look at what other businesses in your industry are doing.
Most importantly, keep a record of what you find, noting key factors that influence sustainability like:
- Amount of waste produced;
- Processes that use the most resources;
- Calculated carbon footprint.
Once you have a conclusive list of areas for improvement, then you can start drafting updated SOPs. The following are prime ways to update your SOPs to be environmentally conscious while optimizing business outcomes.
Office Sustainability and Digitize Workflow
One of the best places to start is by going paperless. Even if you have a tried and true system with physical copies, modern and efficient record keeping almost always involves digitization. Keeping information on cloud-based servers is one of the best ways to save paper and energy because a trusted third party can host your data on remote, secure servers. This gets rid of your contribution to paper industry emissions and lowers the amount of energy your local servers use.
Plus, a digital workflow allows all important information to be centralized. Everyone who needs access to info can access it instantaneously. Many digital platforms also provide automated reports on productivity, giving you enhanced insights into workflow. Here are some actionable ways to start digitizing:
- Scan existing physical documents;
- Implement e-signing;
- Find a suitable software provider;
- Implement digital platforms one at a time.
Make sure when you make the transition to digital that you are keeping employees in mind. Of course, the end goal is to streamline productivity and make everything easier to access. However, tech implementation can be daunting, so slowly roll out new programs and keep tabs on employee feedback along the way.
During your initial audit, you identified areas where the most energy was used. The way that you decrease this use will vary depending on your industry and specific activities. However, there are some general ways, beyond digitization, to cut down on resource use and maximize output. These include:
- Enhanced communication for less redundancy in tasks;
- Reduced multitasking to focus on one task at a time;
- Automation of applicable processes.
Of course, automation isn’t possible or feasible in every case. However, manual tasks can be reduced by automating them in some cases. This opens up valuable time for employees to work on more important, productive tasks.
When making workflow adjustments, employees will need to feel supported and encouraged. Implementing incentives will help them feel valued and give them cause to participate in any initiatives you set up. For example, you could promote paper recycling by setting up teams within your organization to compete. The team that recycles the most paper at the end of the quarter will receive bonuses or some form of reward.
Paper recycling, in particular, is greatly reducing the negative impact businesses have on the environment. In 2020, the U.S. reduced paper production emissions by 24.1% compared to emissions in 2005. Keep with this trend and you can show your team how their office is making a tangible impact on the environment.
Future-Proofing Your Business Sustainability
Whichever route you choose to sustainable business optimization, you’re working toward a better future for your business. With increased consumer expectations of environmental responsibility, companies are stepping up to the plate. To stay competitive, you must adapt. The sooner you adapt, the easier it will be for your business to stay afloat during inevitable changes. Optimize business processes with sustainability in mind now to protect your company for the long haul.
Author Bio: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, business, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.