Last year we discussed how sustainability and the impact of businesses on the environment will become a major trust and selling factor for customers in 2022. With the impact of human activity on the planet no longer in question, experts at Glasgow’s COP26 have billed the current decade as the one to make it or break it for future generations, leading to a surge in eco-friendly habits changing the ways customers interact with companies and transforming the ways we do business and the creation of a “Glasgow Climate Pact” which aims to accelerate actions around the world to limit global warming through industrial changes.
Some customers have already voiced loyalty to certain businesses who have opted for ways of working that are favourable to the environment, but this year it is expected that more businesses will feel the pressure of not only being seen to be environmentally conscious but to provide tangible proof that they are. The good news is that there are already plenty of easy ways for businesses to lessen their impact: from going paperless to carbon offsetting business energy usage, all the way to better use of recycling. Today, we look at why and how businesses can play their part in protecting the planet.
Why should businesses go green?
Many businesses have already made sustainable changes to the way they operate, but this year will ask that they go further in their efforts, with pressure to go green coming from all angles: customers, employees, and shareholders. In the digital age, going paperless is no longer the goal, it’s now only the first step on the ladder to a green business. So how can a business ensure it is doing all it can to prove it is playing an integral part in the eco revolution?
Firstly, you should assess your existing strategies: do they include actions to reduce your carbon print, and do they align with your business strategies so that they improve – and not hinder – a return on investment? How do others view your company when it comes to its impact on the environment? If preserving the planet isn’t necessarily your number one business objective, retaining and attracting customers, talent, and shareholders most likely is – a green strategy can be a great asset to market your products and services.
Introducing green measures for your business
There are many changes you can start making today to lessen the impact of your business on the environment – and they all come at a different cost. Although you should consider the financial impact each may have, they could end up not only saving you money in the long run but also will show that your company is conscious of the issues of our time and could help promote your business to a wider audience, triggering further growth as a result. Here are some actions you can start with:
Recycling is an easy concept to implement and has grown in popularity over the last few decades. At Ultimate Finance we have several dedicated bins placed strategically in every office across the country to help our teams make a difference: plastic, cardboard, glass, paper, batteries and food all have their dedicated final place in our workplace. This ensures that as much as we part with can be converted into new products to limit the need to extract more raw material from the Earth. There are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to recycling – from disposing of GDPR governed data to what can and can’t be recycled – so make sure that clear guidance is shared across your teams to prevent any issues.
Before the days of hybrid working, lighting premises was already responsible for a huge chunk of energy wastage – costing dearly to your business and the planet. With parts of your teams now likely to be working from home on a regular basis it is more important than ever to consider implementing sensors to ensure empty spaces do not get lit unnecessarily. At the very least, ensure staff are reminded to turn off the lights as they leave a room to ensure they don’t stay on longer than they need, both at work and at home.
Did that email need to be printed on paper? Chances are it didn’t. And when you consider that electronic mail already has an impact on the environment, printing documents and mail should remain on a strict needed to basis. You may have seen printing requirements drastically reduced with staff working from home and there might be ways to keep levels low in the office. For instance, we quickly pivoted to electronic signing of important documents during 2020’s first lockdown to not only reduce any unnecessary delays in providing much needed funding but also to further reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need to print contracts and mailing them. For any necessary printing, swap regular paper for recycled paper made from sustainable fibre to lessen the impact of deforestation and pollution.
Like lighting, heating strategies can be reviewed based on your new hybrid working strategies – perhaps employees can be less spread out in larger premises to optimise heating requirements during the colder months. In the hotter months, make the most of windows and blinds to naturally cool premises where possible so that you don’t need to have fans or aircon units running all day. Electronic equipment
Here again, hybrid working may have transformed the way your business operates: instead of desk units, did everyone in your office have to be provided with a laptop to ensure they can work from anywhere after working from home became a legal requirement? Laptops are great at helping to save energy – as long as they’re not plugged in any more than they need to be. Reminding staff to unplug when the battery is fully charged will not only save on electricity usage and cost, but it will also help keep the equipment longer by prevent batteries from losing power as quickly.
And when it comes to older equipment you no longer use, be it phones, laptops, or desk units, don’t let them gather dust in a corner indefinitely – or worst let it end in landfill. According to an investigation by the environmental audit committee, in 2020 the UK created the second highest levels of electronic waste in the world. Nowadays there are many charities set up to recycle IT equipment to benefit the environment and less fortunate people. For example, your unused computer could help kit out a school or your “broken” smartphone could be repaired and sold again at a lesser cost to enjoy a second life. Just make sure to always have your equipment fully wiped before parting with it to ensure you handle all data responsibly and legally.
With all measures listed above, communication is key: encouraging staff to help make a difference – and sharing the results of their actions – can help resolve many issues: expensive bills, high energy rates, low engagement, word of mouth recommendations and staff morale.
Once your business has implemented all of the above, there are further ways to ensure your business plays a key role in protecting the environment: review your chosen suppliers and their own impact to ensure that your efforts are not offset by terrible practices elsewhere. If you own your premises, ensure they are fully and adequately insulated to further reduce your energy consumption, and why not invest in smart, connected devices that can help you remain on top of lighting and heating needs in real time with no effort? How about creating your own energy by installing solar panels on the roof of your workplace? It may have been easy to discard such practices as unnecessary a few years ago but they can now help to make the difference with a stalling business and a growing one.
What other green measures has your business put in place? Share your ideas and tips with our LinkedIn community today to help others on their eco-friendly journey.
Protecting your cashflow
As mentioned earlier in the article, implementing changes comes with a certain cost. Always make sure you review any direct financial impact such changes will have on your business before making any big decisions, and don’t forget to include a projection of the possible return on your investment to understand the full picture. Moreover, Asset-based lending can help protect cashflow to help with upfront costs. Discover our range of tailored funding solutions to get started today.