Earth Day might have been last month, but the Earth deserves to be celebrated all year long…after all, we live here. Reducing waste is a meaningful goal for all businesses, and that includes coworking spaces.
It’s a point of pride that coworking spaces are built with a little more intention than the average office for rent. Different spaces reflect the brand aesthetics, values, and core customer. This affords coworking spaces a unique opportunity to promote sustainable practices.
This article from The Guardian highlights the importance of sustainability in today’s professional society:
“Individuals expect their employers to have environmental and social policies with similar values to their own views and as the war for talent continues there is a significant competition to be recognized as an ‘Employer of Choice.'”
Coworking spaces don’t employ their members, but for all intents and purposes, this statement applies. In the search for the perfect shared office space, many potential members will take sustainability into account.
LEED green building practices (the gold standard for design sustainability) aren’t viable for every business. But even if that’s the case, beyond the initial buildout (using non-toxic building materials and practices) there are practices you can put into place as a coworking space to encourage less waste.
The most obvious action you can take is, of course, to recycle. The worst waste offender in most offices is paper; according to this report from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, the average American worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year.
Hopefully that number is shrinking. More and more businesses run digitally, especially the innovative startups and laptop-toting freelancers who populate coworking spaces. Hot desk coworkers and even ones who choose dedicated desks usually don’t want to be weighed down with binders and files.
One way to encourage less paper usage in your coworking space is to limit the number of printer copies allowed per person. Providing TVs for presentations could help, too: no more printing out Powerpoints for every company meeting!
On top of paper, think about all the coffee cups, plastic K-cups, and cardboard shipping boxes an office goes through. This is why supplying and encouraging recycling is key. Be sure to have large enough recycling bins, in convenient places, and work with your building or trash collectors to get them picked up often.
You can also encourage use of mugs instead of paper cups for coffee and tea. A fun way to do this would be to print your coworking space logo onto mugs and provide them as a new member gift- marketing and sustainability all in one!
Beyond treating the outside world well through recycling and encouraging sustainable office practices, bring a little of the outdoors in.
Greenery, a well-lit space with natural lighting and outdoor areas have numerous benefits for workers. Per Forbes:
“It emerged that when we work in green-certified offices, we get a 26% boost in cognition, and 30% fewer sickness related absences. What’s more, respondents also reported a 6% rise in their sleep quality.”
Per the same article, adding greenery into a space improves well-being, concentration, and air quality.
Even if there were not measurable benefits, most people would agree that working in sunlight and around living things like succulents and flowers beats a fluorescent cubicle any day. Coworking spaces already have a leg up on the cubicle farms; make yours the best it can be by going green!