While Earth Day shouldn’t be the only day that we think about improving the efficiency of our workplace, it certainly gives us a chance to step back and evaluate how we operate. There is an almost never-ending supply of tips for “going green” in the workplace – Planet Green lists a few of them, including switching to smart power strips, buying recycled paper and using e-mail communication more frequently, carpooling to work, and taking a look at the materials you use in your office. Many of us have seen our fair share of “go green” advertisements, articles, and tips…but quite often the ideas are recycled (no pun intended). Here are a few out-of-the-box ideas that we’ve seen that you can use to increase your efficiency, decrease your footprint, and affect your bottom line.
Use Software to Decrease Your Waste
Rather than taking the time to make sure the e-mail you’re printing out is just the first couple pages, let software do that for you. One piece of software that has been getting a lot of media attention is GreenPrint. As described by the company’s website, “GreenPrint’s patent-pending technology [saves you time and money] by analyzing each page of every document sent to the printer and looking for typical waste characteristics (like that last page with just a URL, banner ad, logo, or legal jargon).” The best part about it? The software is free for home use, and is available for download here. The company has also printed a white paper entitled How to Reduce Printing Costs by 17% – check it out here.
Embrace Online Collaboration
Moving past traditional meetings, back-and-forth e-mails, and printing revised documents can be a challenge for some organizations. The workplace of the future seems to be moving towards online collaboration in order to increase efficiency. This might be particularly important with regards to document management. According to Dun & Bradstreet, “Instead of spending hundreds of dollars printing internal documents — and repeating the process every time there’s an update — you can publish important documents and forms on an intranet for employees to access as needed.” They continue by saying, “By letting teams collaborate in real time electronically, they’ll get more work done… You can save time and travel expenses by holding virtual conferences in lieu of face-to-face meetings.”
Learn from the Best
Sometimes the best way to adopt effective policies is to mimic organization’s that are doing it well. One great resource for Northeast Ohio organization’s is to look at past NorthCoast 99 winners. Last year, three organizations were nominated as finalists for the Service & Social Responsibility Awards. One of these organizations, CSA Group, has been improving their efficiency and helping the environment – here is a sample from the 2008 NorthCoast 99 Winner’s Report:
CSA Group is purchasing roof top solar energy panels for their headquarters and will be able to monitor its impact through a web-based monitoring system… It collects environmental statistics on the usage of paper, hydro electricity, gas, water, waste to landfill and on the recycling of paper, corrugated paper (cardboard), wood, scrap metal, old equipment, and furniture. The Executive Leadership Team purchased 1,500 seedlings, representing one tree for each of its employees and Board Directors. CSA Group uses only recycled paper for printing and all employees are encouraged to use recyclable paper, cups, and ink cartridges for printers, fax machines and other appliances.
Verizon Wireless has also taken a leadership position in high-efficiency and low-impact processes. One specific process that organization’s might be able to take away is the transition from paper bills to electronic bills, of which 100 million of their clients receive. For more information on Verizon’s Green Initiatives, click here.
A great resource in Northeast Ohio
For more information on green practices in Northeast Ohio, we encourage you to visit GreenCityBlueLake. They’ve published an interesting study called the State of Sustainability 2009 that is definitely worth a read.