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Seven tips for staying sustainable when the pressure is on

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Taking steps towards a more sustainable workplace can save your organisation money and contribute to a greener environment. However, when your employees are under stress to meet targets and deadlines, or during peak times of the office calendar like the end of the financial year, throwing your apple core in a composter might not seem like the highest priority.

Stress is a major source of concern for HR departments, as it can lead to lowered productivity and sick days, so piling on undue pressure to be green is certainly not a good idea. The key to keeping your workplace running efficiently and sustainably while keeping the stress thermostat dialled down is to make it easier to be green than not.

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Apart from the bottom-line benefits of lower electricity bills and the use of less paper, research suggests that having a sustainable culture at work actually makes people happier. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in the USA carried out a 2011 study which concluded that "there is a significant positive relationship between perceived environmental performance and employee satisfaction”.

Here are seven simple ideas for keeping your workplace sustainable when employees are working under pressure:


1. Don’t give them the option to throw things away.
By getting rid of bins under desks and just having recycling bins, your staff can’t help but adhere to the sustainable practices you are looking to introduce when getting rid of their waste – be it a banana skin or some scrap paper.

2. Provide supplies of tea and coffee to refresh your parched employees – but show that you’re serious about being a sustainable employer by restocking with Fair Trade products.
Perhaps provide some caffeine-free ethical alternatives, too, to help staff keep calm under pressure.

3. Check the office temperature.
No-one can work at their best in a stuffy environment – or if the air-conditioning is sending an Arctic blast through the office. Pay close attention to your thermostats and if necessary change your system – so much energy is lost from inefficient heating and cooling, that new technology can pay for itself in a relatively short period. Choosing and sticking to a suitable temperature promotes sustainability without any real effort being made – something to think about when deadlines are tight and the pressure is on.

4. Invest in multi-functional machines.
It’s now possible to purchase machines that combine the functions of printers, copiers and scanners, which save on maintenance costs as well as replacement machines. No longer will you have three separately redundant products in your office using electricity when on stand-by or not being used – instead you can carry out a variety of printing, copying and scanning tasks all on the same unit. Saving energy equates to increasing sustainability – plus having such a multifunctional machine can help boost the productivity of your workforce.

5. Ask people to print only when necessary

and when they do, ensure that they’ve selected the "double-sided" setting, so they are being more sustainable without even really trying. It is believed that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year, so where there is room to cut back and stop any pointless printing, it will only benefit the office's green ethos.

6. When printing is needed, make sure you only use recycled paper.
This is another fine example of how just one small action – changing your paper – can have a long-lasting eco-friendly effect.

7. When your employees shut their laptops at the end of a busy day, encourage them to switch them off first.

The same applies to everything from the printer, to the desktop PC, this saves energy and will increase the machine’s lifespan. It might be taxing to keep tabs on switching products on and off when you are feeling the pressure, but shutting down and switching off at the end of the day is best for practicing sustainability.

There are many ways to make your workplace a greener, less stressful place to work in – whatever the pressures are. Staples Advantage offers a wide range of further tips, and stock a huge amount of environmentally-friendly products to choose from.

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