In my opinion, running a business shouldn’t just be about making money as a result of services provided to customers / clients, it should be about having a greater goal. For me as a founder and business owner, I want to ensure that we do business for the greater good. I challenge you to find a reason why shouldn’t apply at least half of these tips in your organisation!
Here are my top 20 tips to be a more sustainable business in 2020:
- Use reusable Water Bottles and provide these to your employees / clients.
- Adopt a work from home / remote working policy.
- Use E-signature documents rather than printed contracts.
- Use Tablets / Ipads / folding laptops for presentations rather than printing.
- Use Videoconference for meetings / interviews.
- Use Cloud Servers / virtual machines rather than paying for expensive on-site machines.
- Review, rate and critique your suppliers/partners.
- Incentivise your employees outside of work, using ideas such as:
- Premade lunches
- Changing uniform / attire requirements.
- Cycle-to-work schemes
- Car-share schemes.
- Selling items on ebay, etsy, gumtree or other.
- Buy locally-sourced products.
- (For larger businesses) use electric fleet or on-foot delivery.
- Avoid returns of purchases by ensuring that the product is fit for purpose.
- Arrange collection of waste for both items from your business along with items from your employees, including any items from home.
- Ensure that all machines are turned off daily (not left on standby).
- Provide reeusable shopping bags for home and work use.
- (For larger businesses) install solar panels, wind turbines or ground-source heat pumps.
- Turn your office lights off when out of the room and when you leave for the day.
- Arrange a collection for old clothes and other items to be collected by a charity and open this up to all employees.
- Pay for lunch for your employees once per week, this reduces the need to buy prepackaged food.
- Educate your team as to the benefits of being environmentally friendly.
- Agree to plant a tree (or similar) for every new client or customer.
Surely this isn’t profitable?
Often businesses / business-owners / key decision-makers think of being environmentally friendly and profitable as two polar opposites. This simply is not true. Don’t get me wrong, as with anything, this can be taken to the extremes and be implemented in a non-profitable way, but in fact, being sustainable can lead to more profitability.
Each of these points has additional benefits outside of the obvious environmental benefit which I shall explain below. This isn’t simply restricted to being profitable, there are many more benefits, as I shall explain below.
Shutting down computers
By shutting down computers this prompts updates to happen outside of hours. Updates can improve computer speed, security and prevent issues. It also means that updates happen outside of hours rather on company time.
Premade lunches can assist with healthier eating which in turn can improve productivity and reduce absence.
Recycling of clothes and equipment
By agreeing to help with recycling items for your employees you are reducing the stress and load on them having to find time to do so.
Remote working / work-from-home
With remote working you are reducing unnecessary travel and helping reduce carbon emissions, this is also the case when using electric vehicles and cycle-to-work schemes. The other benefit with remote working is the removal of wasted time in the day to travel to and from the office, which causes stress.
If working from home / remote-working is prevented by a lack of trust of your employees to be able to be as productive when out of the office, then this is perhaps indicative of a greater issue.
Along with benefits to carbon footprint, the exercise as a result of cycling to work benefits the mood and mental ability, meaning that you get a happier and more productive workforce.
By using cloud computing you are preventing the unnecessary purchase and later the disposal of unnecessary computer equipment. Using virtual machines means that you are able to use your older machines for longer as the computer processing happens on the server rather than on the machine itself. Additionally, it means that there is an additional layer of security and file / folder protection if an employee leaves the company.
Shopping bags and water bottles
By providing shopping bags and water bottles to each of your employees (and clients) this is an easy and relatively cost-effective way of sharing your branding efforts with your team. By encouraging the use of these items you are not only fostering an attitude of being proud to represent your company but before you know it you’ll start seeing your branded merchandise in your local supermarket checkouts and gyms, as a result of your brand ambassadors.
Educate, educate, educate…
It doesn’t stop with simply taking a few steps in your company (that’s the easy part), you need to be educating and incentivising your employees and those outside of your company to partake in eco-activities. This in turn encourages them to spread the word to their friends and family. The consequence might be that your company is associated with being a great company to be a part of as a result of being motivated to benefit the greater good.
Suppliers and clients
Make your suppliers and clients accountable and create an ecosystem that revolves around your business. In turn, they will see that there is a lot more to your business than initially meets the eye.