Sustainability doesn’t have to be boring and troublesome, it can also be easy and enjoyable. We are going to show you how with these 17 monthly green challenges for the office. You might wonder why you would create workplace sustainability initiatives within your organization? If you hope to become a modern and successful business, sustainability should be a core pillar of your strategy.
For both partners and employees, collaborating with companies that take action for people and the planet is crucial. The best method to achieve your goal of becoming a green office is to do it step by step. Propose vegetarian lunch options, organize a waste walk, implement a reusable items only policy, etc. The actions you can do for a more sustainable environment are endless. The future of work is employee-centric, flexible and green. Let’s see how you can meet these goals with the following ideas!
Monthly green challenges for the office to do as a team
1. Set up a car sharing system
An easy way to minimize our impact on the planet within our professional environment is to review our transportation choices. If your employees need to come to the office by car, try to propose the idea of finding four or five colleagues that live near each other and carpool to work. A different person can drive everybody each day and they can reduce their carbon emission by the number of people as well as their costs.
2. Organize green competition events with your team
A fun way to get your team members involved in more sustainable activities is to make it entertaining. To do so, why not run green competition events? It is a great opportunity for team building, fostering a positive workplace culture, and helping the planet at the same time! Over the course of a month, your workers can participate in the contests they enjoy and the winners can receive some nice prizes (eco-friendly ones, of course!).
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3. Plan a waste walk around your office building
We have unfortunately gotten so used to seeing trash in the street that we no longer notice it. And if we do, we often get very frustrated and wish we could do something about it. By organizing a waste walk with your team, you give them the opportunity to combat this environmental issue. Decide which day to do the waste walk, get some equipment (reusable gloves, a bunch of trash bags), and have a stroll near your office and collect anything you find on the floor. Don’t forget to recycle by dedicating one bag for each type of waste (glass, plastic, cigarette butts, etc.).
4. Encourage your workforce to schedule their week hybrid
Over the last few years, hybrid work models have attracted many businesses. Organizations and employees love it for various reasons including a better work-life balance and less commuting. Work flexibility helps fulfil your employees’ expectations and reduces their carbon footprint by allowing them to work from home more often. If you haven’t adopted this type of work yet, make it part of the monthly green challenges for the office. There is a good chance you will continue working this way when you realize the benefits it has to offer.
Monthly workplace sustainability initiatives for employers to implement
5. Offer vegetarian lunch choices for a month
Switching to a vegetarian diet is one of the biggest actions you can take for the environment. According to the paper “Diet and the distribution of environmental impact” written by Thomas White, livestock production is responsible for 70% of deforestation in the Amazon region. A 2006 report from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) declares that “raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined”. Therefore, offering vegetarian choices to your workforce is a great initiative to help the planet.
6. Install a green initiative ideas box
To make it a common mission and gather new ideas, you can install a box in your office and create a virtual one for remote workers. This enables your workforce to drop their suggestions about how to make their professional environment more sustainable. At the end of the month or once a week, check what is inside and what you can implement. This also helps to foster workplace connection and progress toward your ecological values.
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7. Collaborate with local restaurants and producers
Eating organically and locally is a great step to becoming a more sustainable organization. If you have a cafeteria in your building, try to work with local producers. If not and your employees usually eat out for lunch, promote local restaurants around the office. You can even create partnerships with these places and get a discount for your team members. It not only creates a sense of community but it also helps the planet. It’s a win-win!
8. Bring some green inside
Adding some green in your workspace is not only good for your employees’ wellbeing, it is also useful for improving sustainability. Vegetation creates oxygen and absorbs CO2 making the air cleaner. You can buy some plants and place them around your office, but you can suggest your workers bring their own as well. We are sure some of them have a green thumb and would love to share their passion with their colleagues!
9. Make one sustainable change in each area of your office
Taking baby steps instead of drastic changes is the best way to achieve your environmental goals. Rather than incorporating big shifts that may overwhelm some of your staff, focus on making one little transformation in each area of your workplace. For example, introduce sustainable coffee pods in the common kitchen, opt for eco-friendly cleaning products for the bathroom, install lighting sensors in the different working spaces and so on.
10. Choose repairing over replacing
Buying a new item when an old one breaks is often our initial reaction. Unfortunately, this practice increases pollution and requires the extraction of more raw materials, both of which harm the environment. For this reason, before throwing a broken product away, try to see if you can repair it. If not, buying second-hand is a great option for replacing anything from office furniture to electronic devices.
11. Implement a common recycling waste system instead of individuals trash bins
Placing one single trash bin at every desk in your office is very convenient but not really environmentally friendly. Replacing them with a common recycling waste system that you encourage employees to use is one of the challenges you can set for your company during your green month. It is also an initiative you can keep on the long run. Not only will you see an increase in your recycling rate but you will also notice a drop in the amount of garbage.
Green challenges ideas for employees
12. Go plastic free
Organizing a green campaign in your office without tackling the plastic issue is not an option. Do you still see plastic bottles on your employees’ desks? Why not give them branded reusable bottles? Whether you have a cafeteria or if your workers take their lunch away from the office, they probably eat on-site from time to time. Provide them with real cutlery and a microwave so they can bring their food and reduce their plastic waste.
13. Opt for a less polluting means of transport at least once a week
To foster more eco-friendly practices at work, encourage your workforce to use a less polluting means of transport at least once a week (for a start). For example, if they usually take the car, promote public transport. For those who are used to already commuting by train, metro or buses, suggest taking a bike if possible. If the car is their only option, try to support carpooling as we mentioned earlier.
14. Clean up and update your mailbox
Digital pollution is hard to sense as we can’t see it but it also represents a large amount of our carbon emissions. For businesses, promoting sustainable initiatives that help decrease digital carbon footprint is a must. The good news is, even though this type of pollution is difficult to notice, there are many easy practices we can implement to reduce it, starting with the management of our mailboxes. Regularly deleting irrelevant emails, avoiding answering unnecessary messages and unsubscribing to needless newsletters are very simple actions with a big impact.
Good to know: one email with attachment (around 1 MB) represents 3.5 g of CO2 (source: Mailjet).
15. Reduce monitor brightness
To minimize energy usage, you can also ask your team members to lower the brightness of their screens. According to Eric Potkin, energy manager at Harvard Law School, switching the monitor brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of energy. This is a great green tip to decrease energy consumption, reduce cost, make your equipment last longer and fight climate change!
16. Change your printing habits and become a paperless office
Even though we all know deforestation is a huge issue, printing is still a common habit in many workplaces. The best solution to overcome this matter is digitalization. If your employees struggle to switch to a 100% digital office, changing your printing practices can also help reduce your impact. Using recycled or FSC paper and the double-sided printing option is a first step. As part of your monthly green challenges for the office, give each of your team members the same amount of paper. At the end of the month, check who has the most paper sheets left.
17. Make unplugging a habit for all
Last but not least, we often forget to unplug our devices at the end of the day or leave the extension cord plugged without any equipment connected to it. This is neither good for your energy cost nor for the planet. Ask every collaborator to unplug their tools and switch off extension cords before leaving the office. To encourage your workers to participate, reward them with an employee-centric gift with the money you will have saved during this green challenge. It can be a resource that supports them in their job or a corporate event to enhance employees’ happiness!
From individual to team sustainability initiatives, you now have 17 ideas to introduce monthly green challenges in your office! As you can see, you can act for the planet in many simple ways. Look at every aspect of your organization and define where you can implement small changes at a time.
If you choose to give flexible work a try to reduce the impact of commuting, request a demo of the deskbird app to discover how to manage your hybrid workspace!
Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.