Green Office Guide V: The Economic and Social Aspects of your Brand

Throughout the previous weeks, we have been working diligently to bring our readers a comprehensive guide on greening the office work environment and accepting a sustainable lifestyle. In our 5-Part Green Office Guide series, we’ve covered hot topics such as ways on reducing the carbon footprint at workgreening the office product line, listing ways to improve the environmental impact on business operations, and finally, educating brands about a sustainable business development. Today, we present our fifth and final installment of our Green Office Guide. Part V of our guide will focus on on the economic and social aspects of your brand when it comes to going green.

Check out our ideas for addressing the other two aspects of sustainability’s Triple Bottom Line. It is not expected that an organization should undertake all these practices but rather to prioritize among them, selecting those that will have the greatest impact and add the most value, and then over time, perhaps begin to address others.

(1) Economic Success: The Wise Use of Financial Resources

(a) Organization’s Economic Prosperity

  • Business Improvement: Develop and implement strategies and tactics to strengthen the business over the short and long terms.

(b) Community’s Economic Prosperity

  • Donations: Donate money and/or time to charitable or economic development activities that strengthen the community.
  • Voluntary Deductions: Create the opportunity for, but do not coerce, voluntary automatic deductions from employee compensation for donations to social and environmental causes of the employee’s choice.
  • Local Contractors: Use local contractors, if available, for needed services.
  • Fairtrade Items: Buy fairtrade coffee and/or other “fairtrade” products for use by the organization.
(2) Social Responsibility: Respect for people

(a) Respect for Employees

  • Employee Feedback: Conduct regular employee meetings and/or use other techniques (surveys, focus groups, etc.) by which employees can provide constructive feedback to management; communicate management’s response.
  • Training & Development: Encourage and support ongoing skills development and training for employees.
  • Performance Reviews: Provide all employees regular performance reviews and personal development plans.
  • Mentoring: Establish a program under which experienced employees mentor new employees and interns.
  • Manager Training: Provide training for new managers on how to supervise and coach other employees
  • Compensation: Provide employees with competitive compensation and benefits
  • Ergonomics & Safety Training: Assure employees have ergonomically appropriate equipment, furniture, and workstations (including lighting), and the training to do their jobs safely.
  • Electrical Safety: Periodically assess the office for compliance with good electrical safety practices, and correct any problems noted.
  • Travel Safety: Provide training on safety related to travel, as relevant (e.g., responding to hotel fires, avoiding street crime, safety in airplanes, food safety, obtaining medical care).
  • Back Safety: Provide back-safety training for employees who often lift boxes of records or other heavy items.
  • Exits: Periodically check exits to assure they are not blocked or locked so as to prevent emergency egress, and are properly marked if visitors may be confused about their location.
  • Emergencies: Establish emergency response procedures that cover fires, explosions, workplace violence and other hazards, and that include evacuation procedures and contacting emergency response authorities. Have the entire staff conduct a drill annually and evaluate the results.
  • Harmful Substances: Have the offices evaluated for the presence of the following, and, if present in potentially harmful quantities, manage them appropriately to prevent harmful exposures:

– Friable asbestos
– Harmful mold
– Radon
– Lead paint (for older properties)

  • Indoor Air Pollution: Assure that office air is otherwise safe and comfortable.
  • Employee Records: Establish procedures for maintaining the privacy of employee records.
  • Work-Life: Adopt measures to help assure the proper work-life balance of employees, including as appropriate, the following:
  • Child care benefits
  • Early or late work hours to avoid traffic congestion
  • Telecommuting, where practicable
  • Sabbatical program
  • Retention of temporary help during times of heavy workloads
  • Maternity and paternity leave policy
  • Opportunities for part-time work and job-sharing
  • Clear communication of work priorities and deadlines to subordinates
  • Competitive (and mandatory) vacation policy
  • Policy on overtime for hourly workers

(b) Diversity, Fair Hiring Practices

  • Diversity: Include diversity as important criteria in the hiring of employees, as well as suppliers, consultants, and other retained firms.

(c) Responsible Governance

  • Ethics Training: Provide initial and regular refresher training to employees on the relevant ethics and disciplinary rules, and establish a policy making adherence to legal and ethical standards a condition of employment.

(d) Dealing With Customers

  • Customer Privacy: Assure employees are aware of the rules on customer privacy and confidentiality of information.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Institute periodic surveys or other regular measures to collect feedback on customer satisfaction with products and services; respond as appropriate.
  • Business Promotion & Green Claims: Assure that the advertising and promotional practices of the organization conform to the Better Business Bureau’s Code of Advertising and Code of Online Business Practices. See http://us.bbb.org/ . Assure that any green promotional communications are clear, transparent and balanced, and that green claims about products or services are specific, accurate, and verifiable.

(e) Awareness and Advice

  • Sustainability Awareness: Use training sessions or other techniques to raise awareness of employees about the sustainability policy and the sustainability issues in your business.

And there you have it, the final installment of our guide! There are so many practices and adaptions in your journey to introducing a green lifestyle in the workplace. Our 5-Part guide is only the beginning of many great green initiatives. The road ahead is not easy, but it should be taken step-by-step. If you missed any of our series, you can catch them all here:

Part I – Reduce your Carbon Footprint in the Office

Part II – Greening the Office Product Line

Part III – Improve Environmental Impact in Business Operations

Part IV – Green Office Guide IV: Sustainable Development for your Business

Good luck, from all of us here at Shoplet!