Sustainability in the workplace

It wasn’t too many years ago that environmentalists were dismissed as scaremongers or perhaps just hippies embracing trees. Unfortunately, the scaremongers turned out to be realists. We are all now fully aware of the dangers we pose to our own planet and how we must all take steps to limit and reverse the damage.

Making your workplace sustainable may seem like a drop in the proverbial ocean, but as more companies make the move that drop can quickly expand to make a significant difference.

Identifying sustainability at work

So, how do you make your workplace greener? Many of us already use bags-for-life whenever possible and have our reusable coffee cups. These may seem like insignificant achievements, but the sale of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets has fallen 95% since 2015*, and removing all one-use cups in our offices saved Aviva over 50m tonnes in plastic waste in 2019

Making changes like these, minimising the use of paper (working digitally as much as possible) and installing energy-efficient lighting and heating are all valuable ways of making your workplace sustainable. Working digitally instead of on paper can also increase productivity, saving time and money. Flexible working cuts down on overheads, with less office space required.

There is also scope to encourage staff members in proposing their own measures; from recycling bins and providing cutlery and crockery at work, to carpooling with colleagues – getting the whole team to contribute will make them feel far more involved in the process. Don’t underestimate the effect such actions can have on the wellbeing of staff.

The benefits for you

Aside from the cost-saving benefits mentioned above, becoming a sustainable company can attract new staff. Potential employees are increasingly concerned about the environmental responsibilities of their new employer. Putting sustainable measures in place could result in a far more invested workforce.

If this still seems small potatoes in terms of the world as a whole, take a look at the global market. The ability to make an environmental impact extends to the products you offer to clients and includes the funds you invest their money in. Suddenly, your actions create the ability to have a worldwide effect, and help put pressure on other companies to improve their position

Responsible investing is growing and becoming mainstream. Clients are becoming more concerned about the green credentials of their investment vehicles – by making sure you offer some of these you’re not only improving your clients’ sustainability, you’re also expanding the market for new clients who want to create a sustainable world too.

It's also worth remembering that from 2021 you will have to ask clients their ESG preferences when discussing their investment objectives. Why not get ahead of the game, adopt this now and be at the forefront of the ESG philosophy?

Starting small but making an impact

We all know the adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It’s a timely reminder that even the mightiest of achievements has to start somewhere. Using a water butt to collect rainwater; drying clothes on the washing line instead of in a tumble dryer; even switching off the shower a minute earlier each day – all these small actions can have an impact. A minute less for your shower may not seem to save much water, but if 50m people do the same think of how much we can save together.

Source: Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)