Guest post by LED Mavens
Businesses of all sizes are facing a new imperative to reduce their eco footprints. On the one hand is a growing market of environmentally conscious consumers. Purchases, which once revolved around simply getting the best product or service for the lowest price, are increasingly being made based on the new calculus of sustainability. Consumers have shown a willingness to spend a little more for products and services that include carbon offsets, organic and chemical-free labeling, and affiliation with trusted alliances like the Fair Trade movement.
On the other hand, businesses have their own calculus to consider. Energy prices continue increasing, and the economy has yet to recover anything approximating a steady rate of growth to match inflation. The good news is that most businesses have plenty of room to make affordable changes that will increase efficiency and save money, providing a buffer against the possibility of hard times ahead.
Though it may be impossible to cut out all the paper, it is worth it to move in this direction. Those reams of paper add up, after all. Since the office is already equipped with computers, it makes sense to put them to good use by keeping the files on a central server. With the right software, which is widely available, clients will be able to view invoices and estimates, set up appointments, and pay their bills. Workers will be able to receive work orders, fill out service orders, and make changes to the schedule in real time with any internet connection. This also allows the possibility of allowing some workers to telecommute, which can be a win for everyone.
If the virtual office seems to risky for your business, the server can be partially offline, which will still allow invoices to be emailed and office tasks to be shared efficiently among the staff. As a bonus, many programs are now designed for compatibility with popular tax preparation software, which will reduce paper and headaches.
Changing the office environment
It is a fact that natural lighting increases worker efficiency, especially in the office where eye strain is a common complaint. Since sunlight is free, why not make use of it? Open the curtains and blinds and ask employees in the best solar positions to reduce the use of artificial lighting. While east and west facing windows will need tinting, to prevent the sun from putting extra strain on the cooling bill, leaving those southern windows clear will save on heating costs in the winter.
Another change for the better is to purchase a few plants. Some, like hostas and ferns, require little light and are great at cleaning the air of chemical toxins. They can also do wonders for improving the mood of your workers.
Sooner or later it will be necessary to buy company vehicles, replace the HVAC unit, and upgrade electronics. When you do, make sure to factor in the extra costs of your options. Light autos use less gasoline. Heat pumps can save substantially on electricity during winter. Energy Star electronics will start your savings immediately.
Consider some of these affordable ways to reduce the eco footprint of your business. Not only will they save you money in the long run, they can become selling points that make the difference for environmentally conscious customers.