Sustainability in Offices
Practise Good Sustainability
We know that offices are generally unkind to the environment, no matter how much you are trying to cut your carbon footprint. From employees driving into work, not switching computers off once they have finished work and completing “small and frequent” stationery orders, it’s not a good place to be environment wise. However, there are a few things you can do to help your office space cut its carbon footprint.
- Install “cold only” taps in your bathroom facilities to save around £45 per employee per year. It is estimated that the average person will wash their hands around 7 times a day, but at far higher temperatures than is necessary to kill germs. Cold only taps are a great solution because they will save you money, they are more energy-efficient and will still kill germs!
- Choose multi-functional devices when purchasing printers, scanners and photocopiers for your business. These multi-functional devices are great because they consume much less energy than individual machines and have been proven to reduce over-usage.
- Reduce the numbers of small deliveries you make to your offices. Rather than ordering one single item for delivery, wait until you need to make a larger delivery to ensure fewer vans are being used. Order your items in bulk wherever possible. Of course, sometimes this will not be possible, but it is a great way to ensure the carbon footprint of your business is lower than it could be.
There are a wide array of small but meaningful things you can do to help your office save energy:
- Get the brews in! Boiling the kettle once to pour 8 cups of tea will save a lot more energy than boiling the kettle 8 times. So, you are saving energy as well as being polite to your colleagues. I can speak from experience, if you make teas and coffees for your colleagues, they will love you forever.
- LED lighting is a great way to save energy. LEDs have been around for some time now, but still, there are a lot of offices that are using the older style filament bulbs to light their offices. Not only are these less energy efficient than their LED equivalents, but they also last a lot less time (so have to be replaced more), and with the payback time for LED lighting now so short, there really isn’t a reason you can give to justify not switching to LED bulbs.
- Switch everything off at night. This seems so simple and links to one of the points made in the section above, but ensuring you switch off all lights, the air conditioning and all computers when leaving the office is a great way to save energy. Even if it is creating a simple rule stating that the last person to leave the office is responsible for switching everything off (we have this rule here at ACI).
Inclusive Office Design
Inclusive design is something that is overlooked massively in the office design space. Having an accessible and inclusive space is a must for each and every company to conform to an ethical standard. Without something like this, you’re not offering a safe environment for people to work in. Similarly, if that space isn’t accessible either, you aren’t able to offer an equal opportunity for all.
This might mean that you need to install a lift for wheelchair access, you might need to keep gender-neutral toilets or keep in mind that you should be sensitive to neurodiversity. All people are different and need different, some may need more support than others and some may need a certain type of equipment to make sure that they’re able to do their job. And if it means that they’re producing better work then it’s most definitely worth it.
With more and more people breaking the stigma of disabled people in the workplace, more disabled people are able to come back to work. With this, however, comes the need for disabled entrances. Now, you might not even have a disabled person working in your office, but it is crucial to ensure access is possible for everyone in case one of your clients is wheelchair-bound.
There are a wide array of ways you can ensure your office is suitable for disabled people, with one of the main ways being installing a lift in your space. Now, we know this is expensive and simply won’t be feasible for smaller businesses, but stairlifts are also a great option and ramps where possible.
The end goal here is to make your office accessible to everyone. Sometimes, this simply isn’t possible, we know. However, there are small things every company can do to ensure they are as accessible as possible.
It can be tricky to make sure that you’re respectful of everyone but an easy way to help this is to have a gender-neutral toilet for people to use. Not everyone conforms to being a male or female and so this is something that we think you’ll see a lot more of in 2020 offices.
By incorporating this into the office you’ll be able to create a welcoming space for everyone on the company regardless of who they are.
A desk is one of the most important parts of an office, without one you wouldn’t be able to get on with your work. Having a desk that offers an accessible element with an inclusive design is ideal for every office.
With an increasing number of employees taking time off work due to pain caused by sitting down for the majority of their workday, it is more important than ever for companies to ensure the desk (and the setup of each desk) is suited to each employee that is using them. Standing desks are great for this, and the benefits of taking “standing breaks” during a workday have been well documented. However, for smaller businesses it is not possible to offer all employees a standing desk, so ensuring they have the correct equipment they need (such as laptop stands and screen arms) is vital.
We asked our furniture expert; Andy Ashall what he thinks is the best way to keep an office inclusive and here is what he had to say…
“Everything that we do is designed to suit our client’s needs. While the company is our client, so are their employees. This is because we’re making a space for them to work effectively in which mean that we might need to tailer specific items to a specific person.
We’ve found that for people with back pain, a standing desk works really well and offers them the opportunity to stretch out and maybe alleviate their pain for a little while. Similarly, pairing this with a great chair means that we’re able to mitigate the pain presenting in their back because there are a number of chairs designed to help this.”
Having an Outdoor Focus
Having an outdoor space attached to your office can actually be quite the luxury, especially if your office is situated in the heart of a busy city like London, Leeds or even Nottingham. Many offices aren’t offered an outside space even if they are on the ground floor and so if you do have one you should feel lucky!
We’re lucky enough to have our own yard and a gorgeous seating area next to the canal so on a sunny day, we can sit out there and have lunch. It’s a lovely space that has had a big impact on the way that we work. Being able to take the time to sit out in the fresh air and clear your mind is ideal for people that need to slow down every now and then.
If you work in an office space where outdoor space is just not an option, then make an effort to leave the office during your lunch break to get some fresh air. Even if this involves just going for a walk around the business park. Not only is this great for clearing your head, but it also allows you to take a break from sitting down, giving your body a chance to move properly and lower the chances of developing problems later down the line.
Flexible Office Design
After years and years of having the standard office set in a static design that offered nothing for flexible working, a lot of designers found that moving towards a dynamic environment had massive benefits for both employees and the company itself!
Whether this means that you include glass office partitions or even utilise the idea that simple environmental partitions could work wonders in your space, having something that isn’t permanent is one of the best ways forward, utilising folding moving walls for example. Flexible office design may also mean that you bring a different style of furniture to the office with the aim of keeping things fluid and dynamic.
Essentially, the goal here is to ensure your office space is “as open as it is private”. We have found over our 10 years of being in business that mixing open office areas with closed-off meeting spaces is the best way to achieve the ‘flexible office design‘ criteria. That way, your staff can mix when they need to, for example when working on a project, and still have the space to hold private meetings, take personal phone calls and work quietly when they need to get things done.
Office Colour Schemes
You may not have realised this, but the decoration (and more specifically, the colour scheme) of your office plays a huge role in the mentality of your staff and will have a huge effect on how they work. Let’s break down some examples of the most widely used colours in the office and what they mean for your staff:
- White – This represents purity and cleanliness, but can sometimes be perceived as boring and uninspiring. White is best used to colour kitchens and wide-open spaces that require a glossy finish.
- Green – The colour green commonly represents balance and growth, and of course, has the resemblance of being natural. The best way to add green to your office space is the addition of potted plants. However, be careful and ensure these are watered regularly. A dead plant is no good to anyone.
- Blue – Blue is often associated with depth and stability, boosts relaxation and intellectual thought. One of the best places to ensure the colour blue is in place is where employees tend to be working quietly, such as a web design department, your IT support staff or even just a quiet area where staff can go to quietly get on with some work.
- Yellow – Said to be the best colour for areas of teamwork. Where would yellow naturally fit into this pattern? That’s right, your sales office. Sales staff tend to be very loud (whether they are on the phone or working with marketing teams, as well as working with each other) so the colour yellow is going to be very useful here.