How to act sustainably in 2021? Buy a few organic apples at the market or leave your car behind in summer and cycle to work? Of course, it’ll be good for the environment. But companies should develop a more comprehensive strategy. It should optimize internal processes and make them environmentally friendly.
As a head of HR with more than 8 years of experience in this domain, I believe that sustainability is a must for any company. That’s why I want to share our experience in promoting green software development initiatives. Also, in this article, I’ll tell you how Vilmate manages to keep our offices environmentally friendly.
What does sustainable action bring for the company?
Sustainable action is an inevitable part of the future of modern companies. It represents a huge part of Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR.
But what advantages do environmentally-conscious strategies and pro-society actions bring to the employer? Of course, restructuring always costs money, but it can secure sources of income for a long time.
Business studies state that CSR-driven companies financially outperform other companies. Also, sustainable action strengthens the general social status and creates trust. In addition, it represents a competitive advantage in crises.
Nowadays, more and more consumers are buying products with questions like "Is it organic?" or "Was the t-shirt made under controlled conditions?" in their minds. According to Forbes, 92% of American customers have a more positive image of CSR-driven companies.
So let’s summon how sustainability practices can benefit businesses.
Corporate advantages of sustainable and socially responsible actions
- Increased attractiveness for potential employees. It’s easier to keep a skilled worker, as 64% of U.S. millennials don’t want to work for a company without a strong CSR policy.
- Corporations with stakeholders get strengthened. According to Forbes, ethical companies have a 50% higher stock price growth than that of the S&P 500.
- Enhanced public presence and visibility. Cooperation with sustainability-friendly companies gives more credit to the business. As well as green electricity usage and environmentally-conscious manufacturing.
- Building a positive footprint in the public (as well as in the regional economic environment). It benefits the company’s own public relations.
So let's proceed to the sustainability tips for growing an environmentally-friendly business.
Tips on taking responsibility for employees and the environment from Vilmate
Tip 1. Not only the plants are "green": environmentally conscious office equipment
"Is the chair also made from certified wood?" and "Is the coffee in the kitchen from controlled cultivation?" These questions are usually not a part of everyday working life – in a lot of companies, but not in Vilmate. We found the answers – namely in the implementation of sustainability measures for the office. They certainly ensure greater well-being among employees.
Tip 2. Sustainable information and technologies: ways to save resources
The Green Office theme includes various processes and materials that are used in everyday office life. Of course, the technology or the technical equipment plays an important role here. This is what makes most work processes possible in the first place – from the computer to the copier.
The question arises: how can the technical devices be operated or used in a more environmentally conscious way? The concept of Green computing specifies various measures that ensure a greener use of office technology.
The concept appeared in 1992 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Energy Star program. It was designed to maximize the energy efficiency and recyclability of electronic equipment.
Green IT encompasses all measures for the more environmentally conscious use of technology. The goal here is to make frequently used technology more efficient and make its handling more sustainable. That’s why I recommend paying attention to the following points.
The PCs are the technical center of the office that has a great potential for savings:
- Laptops usually use up to 70% less electricity than computer systems. Laptops with a similar performance as desktop PCs often use 3 times less electricity. That’s why in the Vilmate office, we use only laptops.
- It’s better to set the dimming functions and the "Switch off monitor" function. Among the Vilmate team, setting the monitor to switch to standby mode after a few minutes of inactivity is a common practice.
- Presence sensors ensure that the screen is only active when someone is sitting in front of the computer - otherwise, it’s in standby mode.
- Power management software helps to put the PCs in the lowest energy-saving mode.
Tip 3. Energy-saving thin client solutions
For energy-saving purposes, all technical applications in the office can be controlled via a modern powerful server, not individually. Thin clients consume up to 50% less electricity than PCs.
Below, you can find practical examples of sustainable / energy-efficient device options we use at Vilmate.
The printer is an integral part of everyday office life – but please use it in resource-saving mode. Below, you can find practical examples of sustainable and energy-efficient printer options we use at Vilmate.
- To save electricity, it’s recommended to use multifunctional devices. They combine printing, faxing, and copying features.
- Compared to laser printers, inkjet printers usually have a lower power consumption.
- It’s best to disconnect printers from the electrical circuit when they are switched off, as they also use electricity when inactive. This can be done, for example, simply via a switchable connector strip.
- Use refillable ink cartridges or toner cartridges. Instead of using combined color cartridges, use individual cartridges so that each color is completely used up.
- If you use the printer very often or do large print jobs, you should order the prints from a printing center. This is more energy-efficient.
Note: Dispose of empty toner cartridges in an environmentally friendly manner. Or you can bring them to a place where the sales can be donated for charity.
Tip 4. Sustainable design: "green" upholstered and wooden furniture and office plants
In addition to adapting the technical inventory, there are other options for the sustainable design of the office. Because not only the paperless office or the energy-saving mode of the PC can ensure more sustainable use of resources. Also, the office equipment can definitely have a lasting effect.
What I look for when choosing "sustainable" inventory:
- Working with local suppliers. This ensures short delivery routes.
- Resource-saving production chain.
- Having a small part of harmful substances in devices or furniture. It makes disposal easier and makes furniture more environmentally friendly.
Further measures that ensure a pleasant room climate in the Vilmate office:
- Recommended room temperature in offices: 20-22°C. In summer, the indoor temperature should be a maximum of 26°C.
- No uncomfortable drafts. The wind speed can be measured using an anemometer. This should not exceed a value of 0.2 m/s (meters per second) in the room and should be around 0.15 m/s.
- Pleasant air humidity. The humidity in the room air can be measured with a hygrometer. This should be between 30 and 60%.
Tip 5. Sustainable employee welfare: measures for social and individual well-being
"I feel so uncomfortable today." Employers must have various areas of action open to them. Thus, they won’t even relate these statements to the working atmosphere and the activities and are/remain productive.
For example, active team building and health management can be of great help. It helps keep internal processes emotionally and psychologically sustainable. Also, it prevents burnout among your employees.
The next 2 tips will attribute to social sustainability by increasing employees’ well-being.
Tip 6. Health management: yoga, nutritional advice, or cardiovascular training
Health care for employees represents a great part of internal social responsibility. The in-house strengthening of health and well-being increases performance. This, in turn, benefits the company's work processes.
Health management shows employees that the company cares about their well-being. It can be cardiovascular training, yoga, or any other moderate physical activity.
For example, in the Vilmate office in Kharkiv, we have a large break room with gymnastic horizontal bars and barbells. And for those of our colleagues who live in Kyiv, we offer free gym membership.
Also, our CEO, Anton Reznikov is a passionate triathlete who loves to share his enthusiasm with others. That’s why he created a sports club where our mates can practice track running for free.
Tip 7. Ergonomic and health-conscious workplace design
The inventory and the room environment can be ergonomically aligned through certain measures. As a result, the workplace offers perfect working conditions to support the productivity of the employees.
Constrained posture arises mainly from long periods of sitting or standing. In the long run, this leads to tension in the back/neck muscles and pain in the arm or shoulder area. Within 4 seconds, a forced posture can cause the muscles to cramp. And the static and non-ergonomic sitting position gives the body no opportunity to relax. And the ergonomic alignment can be of great help.
That’s why in Vilmate we have a variety of office equipment for the comfort and good posture of our team members.
We’ve reached the last 2 measures. They not only benefit the employees but also the environment. These are ideas and procedures that can be implemented in the communal lounge. We call it "green action" on company kitchen countertops and sanitary facilities.
Tip 8. Sustainable waste management
It’s well known that rubbish, in particular, can pollute the environment. Of course, it depends on its type and ways of disposal. In order to avoid unnecessary mountains of rubbish in our company, we implemented the following rules.
- Devices for the disposal of special and separable waste. It concerns metal, bio waste, batteries, defective electrical devices, or lamps.
- We have several containers for paper waste.
- Furniture or old appliances that are still usable don’t necessarily have to be disposed of directly but can be used for charitable purposes.
Tip 9. Water-saving
What can companies do to prevent the water from flowing out of taps in abundance and to save resources for the sake of the environment?
I’m familiar with several options. These are thermostatic fittings, water-saving buttons, sensory devices on the tap, or pearl jets that add air to the water and reduce the flow rate.
Also, you can prevent water contamination by using eco-friendly cleaning agents and alternatives. For example, it can be citric acid or sieve systems. In addition, it’s better to use concentrates instead of toilet fragrance stones.
Final thoughts: Effects and methods of entrepreneurial action for social and environmental climate
To conclude, I suggest adapting for sustainable corporate management in the following areas.
- Office equipment (e.g. combination devices, power-saving regulation, or certified devices).
- Printing and materials (e.g. centralized / more sustainable mass printing or "eco" paper).
- Indoor climate (e.g. green plants).
- Waste management (e.g. consistent waste separation).
- Water savings.
In this article, I gave you insight into the best sustainable and environmentally friendly adjustments for a company. These measures are a sign of a responsible approach to social and environmental interests. Today, this is an important pillar of the economic and social success of modern businesses.
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