Sustainability has become crucial in today’s world — and for good reason. Waste generation is estimated to reach 3.88 billion tons in 2050. And unsustainable business practices, like mandating in-office work for employees in remote-capable roles, are a big part of the problem.

Not only do unsustainable business practices worsen the environmental challenges facing our planet, like climate change and resource depletion, but they have significant economic and social consequences as well.

Fortunately, more and more businesses are realizing that sustainable practices are good for more than just the environment — they can also help companies improve their bottom line and outperform their competitors.

This article will take you through everything you need to know about the benefits of sustainable business practices, why they’re important for your business’s operations, and how to go about creating a more sustainable workplace.

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Quick Summary

  • A sustainable workplace encourages socially, environmentally, and economically responsible behavior.
  • In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, introducing sustainability practices in the workplace can help companies save money, attract new customers, and improve employee morale.
  • Understanding the seven key areas of sustainability and embracing hybrid work are essential for today’s businesses.

What is Workplace Sustainability?

Workplace sustainability refers to business practices and policies that promote resource conservation and encourage more socially, environmentally, and economically responsible behavior.

It’s important to understand the different components of workplace sustainability and how they can help businesses operate in a more responsible and thoughtful way.

The seven key areas of sustainability in the workplace are as follows:

  1. Social responsibility
  2. Resource conservation
  3. Employee involvement
  4. Transparency and reporting
  5. Hybrid and remote work models
  6. Collaboration and partnerships
  7. Leadership commitment

We all know that sustainability is essential for the environment, but why is it important in the workplace?

workplace environment

3 Types of Sustainability

Many people make the mistake of believing that corporate sustainability only refers to the environment.

However, the concept of sustainability is based on three interconnected pillars. A comprehensive sustainability program considers how a company’s processes and actions impact the environment, society, and the economy.

We’ll discuss each of them below.

Environment

Environmental issues can have a direct impact on a business’s everyday functions. Environmental sustainability involves addressing aspects of your workplace that negatively affect the planet and finding “greener” alternatives.

Environmental sustainability can include the following:

  • Reducing water consumption
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Cutting down on paper and plastic use
  • Introducing a recycling system

Environmental sustainability can also involve converting your workplace from a traditional practice, like in-office work, to a hybrid model, thus making it a more intelligent workplace.

Society

Social sustainability involves identifying and managing essential aspects of your business to enhance employee experience and ensure that your company is having a positive impact on the world.

Social sustainability can include the following:

  • Ensuring employees along supply chains are treated fairly
  • Providing healthcare and workplace safety
  • Performing vendor and supplier background checks
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion

The data continues to show that consumers want to support ethical companies that are committed to sustainability.

Social sustainability is based on the understanding that people are the foundation of any successful business and, therefore, should be prioritized for long-term success.

Economy

Economic sustainability is the final pillar in creating a sustainable workplace. It’s crucial to ensure that your business practices are helping to promote economic conditions that will make life livable for more people.

People all around the globe are still picking up the pieces left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent study found that only 5% of the world’s population lives in a country where GDP has caught up to pre-pandemic levels.

Initiatives that prioritize economic sustainability help achieve long-term financial stability and growth while also promoting social and environmental responsibility.

For example:

  • Ensuring employees are paid fair wages
  • Not working with suppliers or vendors that violate labor laws
  • Opting for low-impact economic development
  • Upholding basic working rights and safety standards for all workers

a visual graph

What Is the Impact of a Sustainable Workplace?

As mentioned, making sustainability initiatives part of your company culture and daily business operations can have far-reaching effects.

Some business impacts include the following:

  • Reduce waste: Conscious practices like recycling, using digital devices, and printing on double-sided paper can lead to a healthy environment and cost savings.
  • Preserve brand reputation: Employees and customers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. They expect companies to prioritize sustainable workplace practices, too. Choosing not to implement sustainable workplace practices can seriously impact your reputation among employees and customers.
  • Increase productivity: Using energy-efficient lighting and temperature control systems in your physical office space creates a more comfortable work setting that can naturally improve employee productivity.
  • Boost employee morale: Showing your commitment to eco-friendly practices can create a stronger sense of community among your team, boosting employee morale and job satisfaction rates. In return, employees feel more engaged, which leads to more integrity in the workplace.
  • Improved financial performance: Companies that show their commitment to sustainability by adopting environmentally, economically, and socially responsible business practices can increase shareholder value.

an illustration of three people putting money in a pig

How to Make Your Workplace Sustainable

With growing concerns about economic instability, climate change, and resource depletion, there’s never been a better time to reassess your approach to resource management and create a new workplace strategy centered around sustainability.

Here are 12 simple ways you can make your workplace more sustainable:

  1. Reduce paper usage by going 100% digital
  2. Cut out single-use plastics
  3. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
  4. Embrace hot desking, virtual offices, and other flexible workspaces
  5. Use sustainable cleaning products
  6. Offer meatless food options
  7. Incorporate renewable energy
  8. Introduce a recycling system
  9. Limit unnecessary business travel
  10. Opt for video conferences over in-person meetings
  11. Use eco-friendly transportation
  12. Create a sustainable supply chain

12 ways to make a sustainable workplace

What Is a Real-World Example of Workplace Sustainability?

At LEGO®, sustainability initiatives are on a whole other level. Many elements in their products are made with renewable, durable plastic that’s derived from Brazilian sugarcane.

LEGO® Stores around the world started phasing out single-use shopping bags in 2020. As part of the company’s commitment to using more sustainable materials, their products are packaged with cardboard that’s made from 75% recycled materials.

Google is another company that prioritizes sustainable work practices. Operating under a hybrid work model, Google believes people don’t need to be in the office every day to be productive.

Adopting sustainability practices into your business like Google and Lego can help you promote a healthier workplace and cut down on the costs of operations.

How Can You Maintain a Healthy and Sustainable Workplace?

Setting up sustainable workplace practices is only half the battle — now you have to make it work in the long term.

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy and sustainable workplace long term:

  1. Regularly assess and evaluate the sustainability of workplace policies and practices.
  2. Conduct supplier and vendor site audits to ensure you’re part of a sustainable supply chain.
  3. Encourage employee feedback and suggestions.
  4. Create sustainability workshops for employees.
  5. Continuously seek out fun and innovative ways to be sustainable.
  6. Partner with other sustainable organizations.

How Hybrid Work Leads to a More Sustainable Workplace

If you haven’t already, letting go of the traditional 9–5 in-office work day in favor of hybrid work arrangements is a great way to transition to a more sustainable workplace.

In a recent survey that asked more than 3,000 C-suite and senior executives spread throughout North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, 70% of respondents said remote work technologies were most effective in their sustainability efforts.

The right hybrid work software can help you enable and manage a thriving workplace that’s not only productive and collaborative but also more sustainable.

Think of how much money you spent on transportation costs this week alone. Now multiply that by the number of employees in your office.

Introducing the hybrid work model in your office can help you:

  • Lower your utilities and facilities costs
  • Reduce your environmental impact by cutting down employee commutes.
  • Improve your employees’ work-life balance

Common Mistakes Workplaces Make When It Comes to Sustainability (and How to Avoid Them)

Knowing the right way to go about implementing sustainable workplace strategies can be difficult.

That’s why, although some companies are trying to achieve a greener workplace, they’re running into a whole range of issues.

Determining the best sustainability plan for your office is a matter of trial and error. However, we’ve made a list of the most common mistakes companies make when rolling out a sustainability plan so you can avoid them.

These include the following:

Failing to measure or track their progress

Without clear metrics and reporting mechanisms, it’s difficult to track the impact of sustainability initiatives.

This can lead to companies spending time and money implementing sustainability practices that don’t match the needs of their office, which can result in poor work ethic.

Utilizing space usage analytics and other powerful tools can help hybrid teams make the most of their office space, identify areas for improvement, and succeed in their sustainability efforts.

Neglecting their social and economic impact

While environmental sustainability is important, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Due to the association sustainability has with the environment, companies tend to confine their efforts to environmental changes — ultimately neglecting economic and social sustainability.

To avoid this, consider sustainability from a holistic viewpoint at the very beginning stages of planning.

Not making sustainability a part of company culture

For sustainability initiatives to stand the test of time, they need to be ingrained into the company’s culture and business model, not as standalone initiatives. Companies that fail to make sustainability a fundamental part of their day-to-day business operations are unlikely to see any lasting impact.

To avoid this, spend time considering the social, environmental, and economic impact of different aspects of your business.

Ensuring that your business model, company culture, and strategic vision reflect your organization’s commitment to sustainable business practices will make them more likely to succeed.

Rejecting remote and hybrid work arrangements

With the recent rise in gas and electricity rates, working in the office every day can be incredibly costly.

Forcing employees to work this way can increase energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as reduce employee satisfaction and production.

With the right collaboration and communication tools, a hybrid work model can help businesses operate in a more effective and environmentally conscious way.

4 common workplace sustainability mistakes

Ready to Make Your Workplace Sustainable?

Committing to a more sustainable workplace can improve your company’s bottom line and impact future generations.

If you’re looking for a quick and simple sustainability solution, a hybrid work model is a great place to start.

At OfficeRnD, our team of experts can guide you through the process of setting up hybrid work софтваре that can support your company’s sustainability efforts.

Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid, no credit card required, no strings attached.

FAQ

What Are 3 Examples of Sustainability Practices?

In today’s world, there’s no shortage of sustainability tips or environmentally friendly alternatives available for businesses.

However, the key to building a sustainability plan that works for your office in the long run is implementing practices that are consistent with, and blended into, your company’s culture and values.

Three examples of sustainability practices include:

  1. Switching to energy-efficient lighting
  2. Ensuring all employees receive a fair wage and have access to a comprehensive benefits package
  3. Implementing a recycling system or “no plastics” policy

What Are 2 Advantages of Sustainable Practices in the Workplace?

Some advantages of introducing sustainable workplace practices might surprise you.

Sustainability goes beyond just reducing waste and energy consumption and increasing social responsibility — it can also directly impact your business’s performance.

Two advantages of sustainable practices in the workplace are as follows:

  1. Competitive advantage: By prioritizing sustainability practices, businesses can gain a competitive edge, especially in the eyes of customers. Publicly promoting your sustainability plan can increase brand loyalty and interest from potential business partners and investors.
  2. Market value: Sustainable practices can increase a business’s market value, as investors are increasingly on the hunt for companies that prioritize sustainability and positively impact the environment and society as a whole.

How can we Make the Workplace More Sustainable?

To make the workplace more sustainable, organizations can adopt energy-efficient practices, use eco-friendly materials, and promote a culture of recycling and waste reduction. Additionally, implementing hybrid work schedules can reduce commuting emissions and resource consumption. Employee education on sustainability can further enhance these efforts.

What are the 7 Key Areas of Sustainability?

The seven key areas of sustainability are:

  1. Economic stability, ensuring financial viability and growth
  2. Social equity, promoting fairness and inclusivity
  3. Energy, focusing on renewable sources and efficiency
  4. Water, managing and conserving resources
  5. Biodiversity, protecting ecosystems and species
  6. Materials, using and disposing responsibly
  7. Local and global impact, considering the broader implications of actions.
Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".