New Business Trends that Can Improve Your Company’s Environmental Footprint

shutterstock_286501169There has been a dramatic change in how office space is being used in the past decade.

Thanks to the rise of coworking spaces and an increasing level of employee demand for flexible working hours and remote working options, traditional office environments are fast becoming outdated.

In fact, it could be argued that the alternative working spaces favoured by UK startups are contributing to an increasing amount of vacant office spaces around the country. The vacant property specialists Oaksure Property Protection have found themselves providing security for many empty offices whose owners are converting the spaces into housing. Simply put, it’s now more lucrative to provide living space than working space.

Though there are many benefits attached to new styles of working, is there also an aspect of it that could lead to a business improving its environmental footprint?


Bus analogies and the sharing economy

Taking the bus is of course less detrimental to the environment than driving a car for one’s commute. It can be argued that shared offices such as coworking spaces are the business property equivalent.

If a company is sharing space it is likely to be sharing energy and resources, thus cutting down on what is used and what is wasted (much like taking the bus). There are still emissions and damage – but it is much less than if everybody has their own individual car, or their own individual office.

Coworking spaces and more open, shared work spaces have been on the rise for the past ten years. We have seen the rise of businesses like Regus, i2 Office and Landmark PLC in the last decade. This trend echoes the popularity of other aspects of the sharing economy that has become commonplace thanks to services like AirBnB and Uber. With the rising popularity of the sharing economy we can expect to see more people working together to help save money. But it could also be a promising step forward for the environment.


If work is flexible there is less cause to travel

Flexible work life and office space means that people can more often work remotely – thus cutting down the need for a commute. The average working week in London results in over 15 million commuter trips to the city. If everybody worked from home one day a week that would mean 3 million fewer commutes – surely a good sign for London’s carbon emissions.

Some might even be able to cut their commute entirely. Companies like i2 Office are finding their ‘virtual office’ services are becoming increasingly popular – giving clients the use of a secretary and upmarket address whilst they work out of their home.


Better managed waste

For small businesses working alone waste management can take a back seat. If there is very little to recycle then often it will be overlooked. If many companies are working in one space it makes waste management much more efficient and easier to manage.

When one overarching company, such as a coworking space, is in control of the waste of many small businesses it becomes easier to implement effective and efficient recycling schemes and waste disposal.

The sharing economy seems to be here to stay and with it comes many benefits that are both financial and environmental. Here’s hoping that the companies that own coworking spaces and other aspects of the new office trend will keep the environmental benefits in mind and work with them to create a greener future for office life.

Photo from Shutterstock. This post generously sponsored by i2 Office.

Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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