You’re probably aware that our planet is experiencing huge changes. Small businesses often seem even smaller when facing the enormous impact humans have on the environment, but we have opportunities to make our businesses greener. The extra bonus is that greening practices often save us time and money in addition to saving our planet. This article is one of several that focuses on greener business practices particularly suited to small businesses.
Greener Gas Practices
Friendly Systems has been working from home for 15 years. In that time, we’ve saved our employees a ton of commute time. We also saved a portion of the planet for the same reason. Since we only rarely physically commute for work, employees are using less fossil fuel to get around daily. If you are able to keep some or all of your employees at home, you’re decreasing fossil fuel usage and probably decreasing their stress, too. (How often does a traffic jam set the mood for a bad day at work? How much more productive can you be if you get two or more hours a day with your loved ones or at the gym instead of sitting in a car or on a bus?) Incentivizing public transportation access or carpooling, such as subsidizing bus/parking passes or locating close to a subway station, encourages employees to save gas and save cash.
More Productivity, Less Wasted Time
A Stanford study published in 2014 demonstrated that working from home, rather than making employees less productive since they’re out of sight of management and coworkers, actually makes employees more productive! There are lots of reasons for this, but the greenest reason? The more productive workers are, the less energy and space is used for work. Instead of running the lights for ten hours while employees work at a slower pace, you can run fewer lights for less time and use less fossil fuels.
Having few or no in-person meetings also tends to streamline the most time-consuming parts of businesses. Staff meetings can become conference calls where employees brainstorm solutions via a shared, web-based document. (Google Drive is one such easily-accessible space.)
Greener Office Spaces
One benefit we at Friendly Systems have found to working from home is the lack of expensive office space. It’s one less bill a month, and for businesses looking to save some cash, a smaller or even no space would make big waves in the budget. You might also take advantage of shared office spaces for weekly or monthly meetings that require sharing a physical space. Most cities have offices for rent for a few hours or days at a time at a much lower price than having a full office seven days a week. Doing this yourself and encouraging other businesses to do so can result in benefits for the whole environment. Cities where more employees work from home need fewer large office buildings, which means room for more green space. (Imagine if even a quarter of large office buildings in New York City were parks instead!)
Many businesses already have some or all employees working remotely for some or all of their work week. Agreeing to even a few days at home allows employees to travel less, prioritize more, and collaborate fully when present. Ask businesses that do similar work or are the same size how they organize working from home. This is a great way to start planning to spend fewer days at the office and more days at home.