Green Office Week runs from 9-14 May with the eco-credentials of offices up and down the country likely to come under the spotlight.
Even without a national event pushing green issues up the agenda, any business that’s tendering for new contracts, working towards an accreditation or explaining its progressive approach to customers, employees or suppliers can find itself answering questions on its eco behaviour.
So what part can technology play? Quite a big one when it comes to improving environmental performance and cutting costs. When it comes to devices and systems at work, measures that can be taken to improve environmental outcomes can include how products are chosen and how, when and where people work with and recycle technology.
Being a better environmental player can include small steps to begin with. Even if a business isn’t kitted out with movement detected motion sensors to turn off un-needed lights, or smart technology to adjust air temperature, there are a few steps any organisation can take to be that bit more environmentally friendly with its tech:
Checking existing equipment to see if its life can be extended or performance improved without the need for replacement is a good idea. One example is fitting an SSD into a laptop to boost performance and memory, rather than buying a new device.
If replacement is necessary or more cost effective, consider the whole lifecycle of new products, from materials used and place and system of manufacture to its future recyclability. Look for the level of post consumer content in components and where the product or its consumables will be shipped from.
For cartridges, manufacturers or resellers should offer a cartridge collection programme and recycle or re-use all cartridges returned. It should go without saying that all old tech should be recycled, possibly via the manufacturer or reseller and never sent to landfill.
A suppliers or wholesaler that can offer one delivery, one invoice across the spectrum of products a business needs will make life easier and lead to reduced transport miles and paperwork.
Reduce, re-use and recycle
The three Rs are as important as ever but can be easy to forget in the run of day to day office life when people aren’t regularly reminded. Asking colleagues to print only what’s necessary or save important information on storage devices rather than print it out can make a big difference and improve data security.
Printers should be set to mono duplex – double sided – printing as default with people required to re-confirm printing at the printer rather than risk pages being printed out in their absence or several copies of the same document inadvertently sent to print.
Switch it off
All computers, printers, copiers and other office machines should be switched off by users at the end of the day or when they leave the office. Making better, reduced use of office lighting and heating is also essential. Lights should be turned off on bright days if natural light is enough, or at least switched off whenever people are out of the room.
Air conditioning use can be reduced on hotter days if blinds and open windows are used together to get enough fresh air in the room without letting in too much sun.
Carbon footprint and commuting time are both significantly cut by businesses that make the most of new technology to let their staff work remotely when roles or projects allow.
If it’s likely staff will be working from home or outside the business at some point, consider replacing their old PCs with portable devices when needed, invest in decent quality tech luggage to transport devices safely and securely and equip teams with secure storage devices to keep work on.
Skype for Business and audio conferencing systems make it easy for team and customer meetings to be held across multiple sites and from individuals’ home offices, so where face to face isn’t essential, make the most of the tech and optimise everyone’s time while doing something for the planet.
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