Company employees have a key role to play in facilitating office sustainability drives.
That’s according to Rodolphe d’Arjuzon, global head of research for Verdantix, an analyst firm specialising in energy, the environment and sustainability challenges.
Writing for guardian.co.uk‘s Professional Network, Mr d’Arjuzon says that while sustainability measures might still be a talking point at executive level, putting them into practise requires careful planning and the support of the entire workforce.
“Employees are on the front line of any business. Getting them to do something as simple as putting paper in a recycling bin all adds up when carbon emissions, waste, water consumption or energy use are concerned,” he explained.
While Mr d’Arjuzon readily accepts that not all workplaces are the same, he said that breaking down sustainability projects into four distinct categories can help guide companies – with the help of their employees.
Strategy comes first, he says, and this involves figuring out who in the workforce is genuinely interested in creating positive changes. Part of this process could be to convince the eco-cynics why using office recycling bins, or turning off monitors, is good for their own sense of social responsibility as well as the company and environment.
Next is communicating the business strategy; perhaps electing members of the workforce to be the green team of the office: “Green teams are a regular feature in businesses’ sustainability strategies,” Mr d’Arjuzon explains. “Volunteers take the lead, keeping tabs on office recycling or energy use, for example.”
The popularity of so-called green representatives is gaining ground in UK businesses if evidence by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is anything to go by. Over 1,300 reps replied to a survey of green initiatives in the workplace in 2009, says tuc.org.uk; a number which will well have increased by today.
Making the processes for change easy is another key objective, the expert continued. Sharing a car to work is just one green idea, easily implemented. Finally, motivating employees to encourage one another and monitor their process, is the final step.
Mr d’Arjuzon says: “Tapping into what motivates employees can help push sustainability strategies forward – as long as you find the right approach. Social media and game culture are two ways of encouraging employees to share progress and communication on sustainability.”