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Sustainable corporate culture: Tips on taking responsibility for employees and the environment from Vilmate

Igor Bagayev

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"How to act sustainably in 2021?" Buy a few organic apples at the market or just leave your car behind in summer and cycle to work? Of course, this is good for the environment, but companies should develop a more comprehensive strategy that optimizes internal processes and makes them environmentally friendly. This shows actions towards the environment and society both internally and externally. As a head of the HR department, I gathered a full guide on how Vilmate promotes green software development initiatives and keeps offices environmentally friendly. 

What does sustainable action bring for the company?

Sustainable action is an inevitable part of the future of modern companies. But what advantages do environmentally conscious strategies and actions that are pro-society bring to the employer? Because restructuring always costs money, but it can secure sources of income for a long time.

More and more consumers are buying products with questions like "Is it organic?" or "Was the t-shirt made under controlled conditions?" Regional products are also increasingly finding their way into shopping bags and consumers are often willing to spend one or two more dollars to support local suppliers. Companies usually don't have much to lose and make what can be read here interesting for employees - and potential employees - by acting responsibly towards the environment and society.

In addition, sustainable action strengthens the general status in society, creates trust, and can represent a competitive advantage in crises.

Corporate advantages of sustainable and socially responsible actions:

  • Attractiveness for potential employees increases ((it is easier to keep a skilled worker)
  • Corporations with stakeholders are strengthened (large corporations today often demand sustainable CSR management from their suppliers).
  • Increasing public presence and visibility. Through cooperation with sustainability-friendly companies, the use of green electricity, or the manufacture of products under climate-neutral / environmentally conscious conditions.
  • A positive foothold is created in the public (as well as in the regional economic environment), which benefits the company's own public relations work.

The environmentally conscious office equipment - not only the plants are "green"

"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 that are limited to the office and certainly ensure greater well-being among employees. 

Sustainable information and device 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, as this is what makes most work processes possible in the first place - from the computer to the copier. But how can the technical devices be operated or used in a more environmentally conscious way?

The concept of so-called Green IT specifies various measures that can ensure a greener use of office technology.

Green IT encompasses all measures that employees and companies initiate to ensure more environmentally conscious use of existing information and communication technology.

To make frequently used technology more efficient and to make its handling more sustainable, I find the following points helpful:

The PC as the technical center of the office - it’s potential for savings:

  • Laptops usually even use up to 70 percent less electricity than computer systems (laptops with a similar performance as desktop PC often use three times less electricity).
  • I usually set the dimming functions and the "Switch off monitor" function. The monitor switches to standby mode after a few minutes of inactivity.
  • Presence sensors ensure that the screen is only active when someone is sitting in front of the computer - otherwise, it is in standby mode.
  • Power management is software that the IT department plays on the computers. It puts the PCs in the lowest energy-saving mode.

Energy-saving thin client solutions

All technical applications in the office are controlled centrally via a powerful, modern server and not individually via each workstation. Thin clients consume up to 50 percent less electricity than PCs. A detailed overview and practical examples of the use of sustainable / energy-efficient device options can be found at the following point.

The printer as an integral part of everyday office life - but please use it in resource-saving mode:

  • In order to save electricity, multifunctional devices are often used that combine printing, faxing, and copying functions.
  • Compared to laser printers, inkjet printers usually have a lower power consumption.
  • It is 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 combination 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 give them to a place where the sales can be donated for charitable purposes. 

Sustainable design: "green" upholstered and wooden furniture as well as 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, but 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:

  • Recommended room temperature offices: up to 22 and a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius. In summer outside temperatures a maximum of 26 degrees Celsius.
  • No uncomfortable drafts: the airspeed 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 percent.

Sustainable employee welfare: measures for social and individual well-being

"I feel so uncomfortable today." To make sure that employees do not even relate these statements to the working atmosphere and the activities and are/remain productive, employers must have various areas of action open to them. For example, active ​​team building and health management could help you to keep your internal processes emotionally and psychologically sustainable and prevent burnout among your employees.

Social sustainability: a means of increasing employee well-being

Health management: yoga, nutritional advice, or cardiovascular training

Part of the above-mentioned sustainable concept is health care for employees - so to speak, social responsibility internally. The in-house strengthening of health and well-being increases performance - which in turn is positive for the company's work processes. Measures within the framework of company health management such as cardiovascular training, yoga are meant to show your colleagues and employees that you care about their emotional and physical well-being. 

Tips for ergonomic, 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.

The ergonomic alignment counteracts constrained postures that arise primarily 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 four 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. That is why in Vilmate we have a variety of office equipment for the comfort and good posture of our team members. 

"Green action" on company kitchen countertops and sanitary facilities

Further measures that not only benefit the employees but also the environment are ideas and procedures that can take place in the communal lounge.

Sustainable waste management

It is known that rubbish, in particular, can pollute the environment. Of course, it depends on its type and disposal ways. In order to avoid unnecessary mountains of rubbish in our company, the following are implemented:

Disposal options:

  • Devices for the disposal of special and separable waste such as metal, bio waste, batteries, defective electrical devices, or lamps are available.
  • We have several containers for paper waste.
  • Furniture or old appliances that are still usable do not necessarily have to be disposed of directly but can be used for charitable purposes.

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 such as thermostatic fittings, water-saving buttons, sensory devices on the tap, or pearl jets that add air to the water and reduce the flow rate. The environmentally harmful contamination of the water is eliminated by environmentally friendly cleaning agents and alternatives such as citric acid or collecting sieves. Use concentrates instead of toilet fragrance stones.

Final thoughts: Effects and methods of entrepreneurial action for social and environmental climate

Areas of activity that are considered or can be adapted for sustainable corporate management:

  • 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

The beforementioned sustainable and environmentally friendly adjustments will show a signal of a responsible approach to certain entrepreneurial fields of activity signal a responsible approach to social and environmental interests. )Today this is an important pillar of the economic and social success of modern companies.

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