The Future of Sustainability in the Workplace

Though the pandemic has transformed the workplace in several ways, it’s also changed the way that employers and employees view work. Prior to the recent proliferation of remote work, sustainable measures like smaller office spaces, less on-site office resources, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions were all seen as desirable goals to meet in the future.

Currently, employers stand to gain the benefits of a sustainable workplace more than ever. As the American remote workforce grows rapidly and is predicted to total 36.2 million workers by 2025,[2] the previous standards for workplaces like sizeable office spaces, on-site desks, resources for all employees, and high office maintenance fees have all become less necessary. Alternatives like hot-desking, third workplaces, and flexibility for workers can all help to cut costs for companies while optimizing organizational success.

Employees are more focused on working for employers with a positive social and environmental impact. A Tarkett study found that 65 percent of workers are more concerned with their environmental impact than they were before the pandemic started.[3] A sustainable workplace can reduce previously unseen costs and limitations, as mentioned, while also working towards the social impact that both current and potential employees are looking for. But this increased attention on sustainable practices and environmental impact isn’t solely limited to workers.

Much like with green or eco-friendly products, consumers are purchasing more services and goods from organizations and suppliers with sustainable practices. According to a recent Nielsen study, 66 percent of respondents (consumers) outlined their commitment to sustainable services, goods, and businesses.[4] In particular, consumers highlighted four qualities as important for potential employers or organizations they’re looking to purchase from – eco-friendly product packaging, sustainability as part of a company’s brand, renown for a brand’s social impact, and ads that highlight a brand’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Via sustainable workplace practices and initiatives, companies are likely to experience increased positive brand awareness, employee retention, and product performance.

Sustainable Work Models of the Future

Implementing sustainable practices in your work model will increase your workforce’s performance, productivity, morale, and work-life balance.[5] Employees have been shown to have higher levels of performance and productivity via hybrid and remote work models with sustainable measures, with a recent study having found that sustainable work models increase employees’ productivity by 16 percent.[6] For work-life balance and employee well-being, which have both become increasingly centric points in conversations surrounding the employee experience, sustainable measures have been found to help increase both, especially for employers looking to increase employee morale post-pandemic.[7]

A sustainable work model can also assist organizations and employees in reducing business travel and office/leasing costs.[8] The ongoing digitization of the workplace has changed everything, from commuting and office space sizes to interviewing and employee operations. Virtual interviews, digital platforms for onboarding processes, remote or hybrid work models, and reduced use of office resources are all sustainable measures that can help companies reduce spend and emissions.

With employees having to travel to the office less frequently, commuting costs will instantly be cut, and office fees will naturally decrease with less need for office space and resources. Incorporating sustainable measures like reduced commuting, hot-desking, third workplaces, and flexible schedules will demonstrate brand values to current employees, attract the attention of potential employees, and noticeably save costs for both small and large businesses.

A Path Forward with Sustainability

As sustainable measures become more accessible and necessary, workers and organizations will both stand to receive the benefits of this eco-friendly optimization. By working to reduce operational impact on the environment, companies can optimize their workforce, processes, and success. Since employees are growingly concerned with their environmental impact, they also stand to reap benefits as part of a sustainable organization.

With sustainable practices, businesses can attract more talent, optimize brand awareness, and increase their incumbent workforce’s morale and performance, while employees will be able to better find companies they morally resonate with. Sustainability is a mutually beneficial and necessary part of working towards a better future, creating a healthier, better-performing environment for organizations, and minimizing the damage done by emissions and operations to provide future generations with a safer world.









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