Your Business After COVID-19 Can Be Greener and Healthier
Sustainability has been a top priority for companies in many industries -- retail, restaurants, automobile dealers, stadiums and event venues, and even municipal buildings like schools and prisons.
Green initiatives and LEED-certified structures have been on the upswing. Not only are they better for our planet, but green workplaces and other types of businesses have also been proven to foster employee health and customer loyalty. In fact, younger generations are willing to pay as much as 73% more for products with sustainability initiatives.
The Benefits of Sustainable Business Practices
By making your operation more sustainable now, you can enjoy a wide range of benefits that will serve you in business after COVID-19. For example:
- You can save a significant amount on energy costs.
- Your workplace will be free of waste and toxins that hamper productivity.
- You’ll be able to attract better talent and more customers.
You don’t have to invest a lot of money now to go greener. In fact, you’ll find that many sustainability initiatives don’t cost you anything and that the savings you’ll enjoy can be seen almost immediately. Those dollars can be invested in projects and programs that will help you survive through the pandemic and prosper for years to come.
Sustainability Efforts Promote Health and Wellness
The pandemic has prompted us to focus on the safety of physical spaces and communities. Air and water quality and lighting (addressed below) all play a role in creating pleasant and productive workplaces. Healthy options in cafeterias, bike racks, and company-subsidized wellness programs also help ensure a healthier workforce.
Working from home is now the norm for many companies, creating opportunities for some businesses to modify the amount and type of space they need -- reducing energy use and, ultimately, carbon footprints.
Schools, prisons, and government buildings are all looking for ways to keep large and diverse populations people healthy. Stadiums and other entertainment venues will also be hyper-focused on solutions that promote well-being.
Resource Conservation Also Has a Significant Impact
Energy usage is a huge percentage of business spending. Small businesses spend more than $60 billion annually on it.
“View critical actions through a sustainability lens. When you embark on cost initiatives and other newly critical actions, use sustainability as a priority criterion. This could mean doubling down on energy efficiency measures that reduce both emissions and costs.”
- Bain & Co (“COVID-19 Gives Sustainability a Dress Rehearsal”)
Beyond adjusting your heating and cooling systems around work hours and customer traffic, you can look to other more significant ways to save money and create a greener company.
- If you are making capital improvements, work with architects and builders who can recommend LEED-friendly options.
- Purchase energy-efficient equipment, computers, and appliances.
- Make the switch to LED lighting. This alone can save you up to 60% and you can do it without any cash outlay. In fact, FES’s program will even buy back your old lighting fixtures. Now is a great time to make this decision, when your workplace may not be fully occupied.
Your Employees and Customers Value Sustainability
Making moves that incorporate energy savings and promote safety and health will also improve your brand’s perception.
Close to 50 percent of employees value companies that are eco-friendly. Make sure your team is aware and proud of the steps you’re taking to create healthier and more sustainable workplaces. Involve your work team in decision-making and share the impact of changes on efficiencies, health and productivity successes, and cost-savings.
What’s more, the people who buy from your company need to know that you value the planet. Almost half of today’s consumers have made changes in their spending behaviors based on how they perceive brands’ commitment to the environment. Showcase your efforts in your marketing and public relations programs.
A Sustainability Checklist Can Help Your Business Increase Impact
Even small businesses can benefit from sustainability initiatives. Which Business Practices Have the Greatest Impact?
The main areas that comprise a sustainability checklist are:
- Infrastructure and Support: The resources you have available to you to create a powerful program.
- The Team: An environment that engages and motivates its employees, valuing inclusivity and diversity.
- Community Support and Engagement: Relationships with the groups and people where you operate and a commitment to collaborate with them.
- Social Impact: Your contributions to making your workplace, community, and industry better and longer-lasting.
- Waste Management and Recycling: Safe and responsible disposal of materials you no longer need or want
- Resource Conservation: This includes air, water, energy, and lighting.
- Product Development & Life Cycle: Is what you produce environmentally sound?
- Supply Chain & Procurement: The way in which you deliver and buy goods and services
- Carbon Footprint Reduction: A measurable way to track progress across some of the categories listed above. You can use a simple tool to assess and track your impact.
You don’t need to make major strides in all of these areas. Simply focusing on a couple of high-impact categories can result in radical improvements and save you money -- ensuring that your business after COVID-19 is sustainable and growing.
Create your own checklist and action plan for sustainability and you will discover that many steps can save you money, retain talent and customers, contribute to your community, and -- ultimately -- create a healthier and more vibrant planet. Your business after COVID-19 can be one that really makes a difference.
To learn more about cost-savings and sustainability for business, check out the 26 Bright Business Savings Ideas for SMBs eBook.