What are the benefits of a paperless office?
Where to begin? As we look for more ways to practice sustainability, one of the first places to start is evaluating current business operations, and really questioning whether they’re efficient. It’s thought that the average office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper each year, which is not only a major pocket burner, it’s also devastating for the environment. Not to mention, a workplace that relies heavily on their printer may start to become cluttered and unorganised. So, if you’re looking to work towards an eco-friendly office by gradually introducing the notion of paperless practices, having a read of this article is a good place to start.
The first step to going paperless in your office is to scrap in-hand documents that require an ink signature, instead choosing to go digital. Opting for e-signatures is one way to reduce clutter and paper expenditure, plus you can send signed documents across immediately without having to wait for snail mail to deliver. This method could be used for anything from contractual agreements to invoices, being a straightforward alternative that reduces the risk of human error.
By using applications such as Dropbox or OneDrive, you’re able to store any office documents in the Cloud, rather than keeping them in paper form. This is a more organised file storing method, making sharing files between colleagues effortless, and it’ll enhance your workplace’s security by allowing you to backup and restore data. Gone are the days of rummaging around your filing cabinet in a desperate attempt to find that one important bit of paper, panicking that it may have accidentally found its way into the shredder.
Virtual note taking
When it comes to meeting productivity, ditch the notebook and pen and immerse yourself in the conversation. It’s easy to become distracted by feeling as though you have to scribble everything down in record time, which can lead to certain points being left unregistered. If you do feel as though you need to make a couple of helpful notes, use a laptop instead to save on office paper. There are various apps you can download too, such as Evernote, that you can also add audio, scans, PDFs and more to, to make sure that you’re totally clued up on the task at hand. Plus, all of your notes will be saved in one protected place, to prevent any critical bits of information from getting lost.
Virtual communicative methods
Communicating via email, or by using any other online messaging platform (take Slack and Zoom as examples), is another way to contribute to your office going paperless. By sending an instant message, you avoid any time lost spent sending a letter, and you can be sure that the recipient will definitely receive it. There are now also ways to see whether people have opened your email too, so there really is nowhere to hide anymore.
Not only this, encouraging people to jump on a video call, rather than trying to write out a letter, makes the whole process more personalised, creating a reason for company and client (or your colleagues) to get to know one another.
In order to uphold an eco-conscious office culture, it’s important to firstly acknowledge and communicate any current business operations that are causing a build-up of waste. Rather than simply enforcing a rule that your office should go paperless, make sure that your employees understand the importance of sustainability and why they are making the change. Going paperless may be a gradual process, but it’s one step towards acting more eco-consciously.
If you’ve been inspired by this blog post and are aiming to make your office both as efficient and sustainable as possible, have a chat with our team of experts today. Our office furniture is both sustainably sourced and designed to last, ensuring that you can achieve your desired workspace aesthetic, without causing harm to the environment.
What is meant by ‘biophilic design’?
Have you ever wondered why people are so fond of decorating their houses with various plants and succulents? Or why, for many people, their garden is their pride and joy? There’s a reason why humans crave the outdoors, and the answer is “biophilia” – the term used to describe an instinctive urge to be closer to other living things. In a world that’s fallen victim to urbanisation, people often feel disconnected from the natural world, especially when heading into a cold, impersonal office with no windows and artificial lighting.
Opting for a biophilic office design is a brilliant way to bring the outside in to fulfill these innate tendencies, and your staff will feel much better for it.
What are the benefits?
Designing an office space in a way that embraces the great outdoors carries several benefits, with one particular study revealing that employees were 15% more productive than those who were in a workplace without any greenery. But that’s not all! Further research has shown that office plants are great stress-busters, relieving symptoms of anxiety whilst boosting cognitive performance. Happy workers are hard workers, so placing your staff’s best interests at heart really is key to a successful business.
As well as improving your staff’s wellbeing, a biophilic office design also shows visitors that your business has a great company culture going on. This is their first impression of your brand and what you have to offer, and they too will feel a sense of calm radiating from the room upon entry.
With a few simple steps, you too can design a workplace that’s centred around the wonders of nature, whether this be through exploring new office furniture options, by changing up your colour scheme or through increasing the natural light that enters through the windows.
It’s predicted that humans spend up to 90% of their life indoors, which naturally has a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health. There are numerous studies that highlight the importance of bringing light into your office space, with evidence demonstrating that darker offices can result in decreased productivity and more staff sickness days.
To inject some energy into your working environment, increasing the number of windows or positioning desks next to them is the easiest solution. However, if your space is still feeling a little dim, opt for subtle, warm office lighting rather than fluorescent to avoid feeling like a rabbit in headlights.
Why does working outside in your garden feel so much more relaxing than being indoors? It’s because you’ve got your leafy green friends to keep you company, of course! When surrounding yourself with flowers and foliage is known to enhance creativity, basing your office design on a countryside getaway could be the way forward.
Replace tacky desk ornaments with succulents, or you could use a crate planter for elevated potted plant storage. There are plenty of other ways to breathe life into your office; utilise the floor and reminisce back to your last peaceful picnic with astroturf or grass mats, or create the illusion of added space with hanging plant pots. Living walls are also becoming increasingly popular, and it’s a great way to bring much needed colour and vibrancy into your office.
Take a look at an office fit out we did for Ascentis, who wanted to create a fun, lively space by incorporating features of biophilic design into their working environment.
Choosing your office colour scheme
Earthy tones are perfect for an office design that’s inspired by natural landscapes, so why not give your walls a fresh lick of paint? This natural palette is thought to evoke feelings of tranquility and calm, and can create the illusion of being closer to the outside world.
If you prefer minimalistic tones, try fresh shades of green in your workspace through cushions and throws that’ll really add to your office furniture.
Speaking of office furniture, biophilic interior design is all about embracing natural shapes and forms (think curved desks and dome chairs), using raw materials such as wood and stone where possible. You could also select fabrics that fit in with the natural colour scheme to add to the full effect.
Creating a working environment that supports social integration is also a key element of biophilia, as humans have an innate instinct to survive in groups. Place team spirit at heart and be sure to include plenty of shared workspaces and collaborative zones.
If you’ve been inspired by biophilic design and need help with choosing the office furniture to match, our team of experts are just a call away.
The typical office isn’t always the most eco-friendly of environments. Fluctuating temperatures as people fight over the thermostat, computers being left on standby all night, and blazing fluorescent lights between the hours of 8am and 5pm. But, it doesn’t have to be that way; there are plenty of green office ideas to be inspired by so you can bring a touch of green to your desk.
So, if you’re an eco warrior at heart, here are a few ways you can set your sights on making a difference in your workplace.
Eco-friendly office tips that you can implement today
- Place recycling containers throughout the office – When you’re working all day it’s easy to get complacent. By having recycling containers placed at strategic locations – a paper box near the printer and a plastic and cans box in the kitchen – you’ll help make it easier to recycle. Also make sure you make an effort to recycle your used batteries as these shouldn’t be thrown in the standard waste bin
- BYOM (bring your own mug) – Rather than getting takeout coffees and teas, which can’t be recycled and have to be sent to landfill, encourage your staff to use real mugs, glasses, cutlery and dishes
- Bring plants into your office – Not only do they look great and help to brighten up the place, plants are responsible for the oxygen we breathe; incredibly useful! They’ve also been linked to increasing productivity by 15% a UK study found; win-win!
- Green cleaning – Whether you clean your office yourself or employ a company, make sure you use green cleaning products that aren’t doing any damage to the environment
- Go paperless – Wherever possible, communicate electronically. Only print documents if you absolutely have to
- Use tech where you can – If you have client meetings, use projectors and laptops to show your work rather than printing off agendas and presentations. Your clients will appreciate this as they won’t have to carry bundles of paper back too
- Switch off – This should go without saying but switching off your laptops, computers and lights at the end of the day can make a huge difference. It may not feel like much, but if everyone in the office does it, it all adds up
Green office ideas for the long run
1. Start a sustainability team
Chances are there’s more than one person in your office who’s passionate about green living, so harness that enthusiasm and give them a place to go wild. A team that is totally dedicated to sustainability in your office can both raise awareness and accomplish more. Some projects they could get started with include expanding your recycling program and helping to inform purchasing decisions. Weekly or monthly inspections can help make sure your efforts are continuing.
2. Look at your suppliers
Whether you’re a business owner or work from home as a freelancer, it’s always a good time to look at who is supplying your power. Green sources of energy such as wind and solar energy are more accessible than ever before, and now it’s possible to switch to a supplier who guarantees their energy is coming from renewable sources. And don’t worry about price either; green plans are actually very competitively priced even compared to more traditional sources.
3. Think about your lighting
The only light that isn’t going to have some kind of impact on the environment – and cost you nothing – is natural light. So wherever possible try and have large windows and natural light streaming in to illuminate your office.
If all natural isn’t possible, there are other options for you. Make sure all the bulbs in the office are LEDs. You could install smart power strips at each desk, and considering adding sensors and timers onto your main lights so they work automatically.
4. Start cycling
Commuting to and from work isn’t the most sustainable of practices. And in reality a fair few of your employees will live close enough to get into the office by cycling, but more often than not it’s the cost of a bike that can put people off making the effort. Thankfully, as their employer, there are a few things you can do to help.
Start by signing up to Cyclescheme; a government-subsidised scheme that helps people buy their new bike tax-free. Another big help is to buy the bike for them and allow them to pay it off over time by taking small regular payments out of their monthly salary.
5. Green machines
Did you know that computers and other related pieces of tech account for 3 – 4% of the world’s carbon emissions? What’s even more shocking is that’s more than the aviation industry which often gets a lot of negative attention. So if you’re looking to reduce your business’ carbon footprint, changing the computers you use can really make a world of difference.
Before you buy, make sure you head to Gooshing UK. It’s a website run by the Ethical Company Organisation and it shows you the ethical and environmental record of various computer manufacturers. The Greenpeace website will also be able to help you find out which manufacturers use the least amount of toxic chemicals during the hardware manufacturing process.
If you’re a large company, then chances are you’re going to be using a data centre which houses your servers. Unfortunately, this is likely to be one of the worst environmental offenders due to the huge racks of machines that need to be powered and cooled simultaneously.
Now this isn’t something you’re going to be able to give up, but you can ask some questions to your data centre to find out whether they use some kind of eco-cooling system or an energy efficient hardware. If they don’t, you could always shop around for a new place or suggest they make some changes.
6. Do a ‘Go Green’ month
Why not plan in the calendar a ‘Go Green’ month to get the whole team motivated. This could work across departments. For instance, you could have content linked to your business talking about how to go greener – whatever your business is. Maybe you’re a business broker that helps buy and sell businesses, and your sales team could be motivated by focusing on business targets linked to healthy food, recycling and the environment etc. You could run a competition across the company to see who gets the most steps during the month. This can be shared across social platforms for more engagement.
7. Use recycled materials
Just by simply reviewing your stationery and basic office supplies, you can make a big difference to your carbon footprint. For instance, you can opt for recycled and biodegradable pens. And, considering we go through a lot of pens during the years racked up in the office, switching to eco-friendly alternatives will significantly reduce our plastic waste.
These days, we really don’t need to use as much paper with all the digital notepads and software at our disposal. We can easily open up documents to type notes down. Not only does typing up notes help with reducing paper waste, but it’s more efficient to have all notes quickly typed up and stored to be shared. However, if you do need to write down some notes, there are eco-friendly notebooks out there made entirely from recycled materials.
8. Monitor brightness
Not only is reducing the brightness on a monitor good for the eyes, but even reducing your computer monitor’s brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% in energy, according to Harvard University. Make sure to enable the energy-saving mode for monitors also to reduce energy consumption. Every little brightness change forms part of a greener office plan.
9. Ethically sourced
Do you have an office full of coffee drinkers? Chances are you do. Coffee is a multibillion-pound global industry, but with that comes a significant environmental impact: deforestation, erosion, and water pollution. Try a more sustainable coffee source, like shade-grown coffee, as this requires less water, fertiliser and pesticides, and doesn’t degrade ecosystems.
10. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Of course, we shouldn’t forget the eco-friendly mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’! Don’t be too quick to throw things away when you may be able to repair and reuse things from a quick fix. Not only is this better for the environment to reduce needless waste, but you’ll be saving money as a business. Think to yourself, does something really need replacing? If it is working efficiently for the business, do you really need to get rid, or are you just excited about having shiny new tech? You just need to weigh up factors. Wherever you can, recycle, and make sure there are clear signs so that staff know exactly what needs to be recycled and where.
Whatever the industry you work in, whatever your brand, your office can go greener from today. The small steps add up, and before you know it, you’ll be giving presentations on green office ideas!
If you’re looking for high-quality, ethically sourced and built-to-last office furniture, then speak to us, as we know a thing or two. We have years of experience in supplying office furniture and accessories.