By: Brenda J. Trainor
“Going green” is admittedly pretty trendy, but it is also socially important and can be an important way to realize cost savings for your company’s bottom line. Technology applications provide new ways to save the environment and save money for your company. If you really want to make a difference in 2008, figure out the many different ways you can make your company more green for the New Year.
Let’s start with information processing – the data and processing that makes most offices function. Does your company have a policy about paper usage? Are you buying recycled paper? Are you recycling the paper you use? And can all the stuff in the lunch room be recycled as well? What about the inks and toners in your printers? Are they being recycled? Maybe you should consider discouraging your staff to print each draft – after all, computers are really good at facilitating collaborative efforts and storage. Teach your staff to use the editing and sharing functions of word processing programs – these are great features that allow you to track changes and save paper and time simultaneously. Similarly, with email messages, there is very rarely a need to print them out – be sure your IT department is set up to store and back up email messages and that your staff knows how to archive their email files. And to help discourage unnecessary printing by your recipients, consider putting a tag message on emails that remind people to be green, and ask them not to print the message unless necessary. I know my inbox has received lots of those labeled messages lately, and I really appreciate the goodwill that the sender is conveying.
And speaking of goodwill, how can your company help out your employees and their efforts to go green? Maybe you can consider coordinating a battery collection box at the office and have the company drop them off at the proper hazardous waste collection center. You might want to benefit certain school or charitable efforts by recycling plastic bottles and cans for the benefit of a particular charity. In fact, there is even an organization that will help a school or other non-profit group to recycle ink jet cartridges as a fundraiser – they provide the collection box you send it in and they send money to the group. Everybody wins!
And while we’re talking about your staff, one of the greenest things a company can do is help your employees to save gas. Obvious solutions are carpooling benefits (better parking, coordinated schedules, etc.) ride share coordination, flexible scheduling (9/80 or 4/10 workweeks) and my personal favorite, telecommuting. Telecommuting allows employees to do their work at home. Many jobs functions can be separated from the office. It’s loved by employees who don’t have to dress and drive to get work done. The requirements vary, depending on your information networking capabilities and those of the employee who works at home. It is important, from a management perspective, to be sure to have a common set of understandings for telecommuters. Consider having a contract that describes the obligations and expectations: how many days a week, what functions will be performed, what will be delivered, what hours will be worked. If there is phone work involved, be sure the employee knows that dogs and kids can be very distracting to customers on the other end of the line and can’t be permitted. Be sure the employee’s computer has the proper firewall and virus protections to assure network integrity. Work out policies for cost reimbursements if necessary for software licensing or home office needs. Don’t let frustrations build up if your managers don’t really know how to manage off-site workers. Provide training and support to managers and employees to be sure the relationships necessary to the success of your company can continue productively.
These are just a few of the ways you can help out the environment. By taking your company green, you’ll need a little progressive thinking to go along with good management, and you’ll end up with happier employees and probably more green in your coffers.
Trainor is the President of Frontier Trail, Inc. a communications technology consultancy based in Monrovia, CA. She can be reached at Trainor@FrontierTrail.com.