Tips for building a sustainable workplace

At Incite, we’re committed to using our business as a force for good. To hold ourselves to account, each month we focus on raising awareness around a topic within the space of social responsibility. This month, we’re exploring sustainability.

To stimulate thinking and environmental change within the business, we’re running several initiatives centered around recycling and reusing. In the short term, we’re launching a ‘swap shop’ in the office, where unwanted items can either be swapped or taken in exchange for a small charitable donation. We also have an ongoing stream of Slack messages, sharing our sustainability hacks. Longer term, we’ll be introducing our own ‘little library’ as a permanent fixture to the office.

Beyond reducing ecological footprint, a truly sustainable workplace must balance planet, people and profit to produce success and viability in the long-termIt should be built to respond to trends, evolve with time and be resilient to change. Here, we share three factors that we believe are fundamental to achieving a sustainable workplace and tips on where to begin.

1 / Foster a supportive culture

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that employee wellbeing is central to the success of a business. Simply put, happy and supported employees are productive employees. Beyond the obvious ethical reasons, workplace related stress and mental illness are estimated to cost British businesses £26bn a year. So, from every standpoint, employees are your most cherished asset. Investing in the right systems to support wellbeing upkeep and development should be at the top of your organisation’s list.

Tips for success

Maintaining wellbeing requires constant attention and care; practically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Consider training employees to become Mental Health First Aiders, provide an Employee Assistance Programme, offer access to Talking Therapy support, or simply ensure that each employee is reached out to on a regular and consistent basis.

A holistic approach to wellbeing works best; a healthy diet and exercise go a long way in promoting good mental health. At Incite, we provide fresh fruit and healthy snacks in the office. We also incentivised daily walks through our recent ‘Million Step Challenge’, with proceeds being donated to Mind and Mental Health America once the target was hit.

2 / Empower employees to create their own path

Flexibility and employee choice are key to achieving a sustainable workplace. We’ve come to learn that life is infinitely less stressful when working flexibly, allowing our personal and professional tasks to run concurrently. So it’s no surprise that employees are no longer willing to trade this balance for a 9-5 office job.

In order to stay competitive in today’s market, businesses must offer meaningful flexible working, be it location, hours or working patterns. The benefits of offering flexible working are innumerable; increasing employee productivity and efficiency, enriching overall wellbeing, and crucially, improving employee retention.

Tips for success

‘Digital by default’ is here to stay; allowing employees to work from anywhere, with minimal disruption to the business, is essential to enabling genuine flexibility. Technology needs to be user-centric, offering a seamless and niggle-free digital experience wherever employees are logging in from.

Offices are still needed, but they should be primarily used to facilitate collaboration and enable human connection, whether that be through meetings, teamwork or social events. We’re exploring new avenues to enhance the Incite office space, as well as hosting regular lunches, yoga sessions and more to create those moments for connection.

Hybrid working won’t happen by accident; there are months and years of experimenting and refining ahead. Leaders will need a clear strategy, reshaping work around individual roles, preferences and even personal lives.

Nick Hedderman, Modern Work and Security Business Group Lead at Microsoft UK

3 / Use your influence to drive change

In an increasingly competitive and employee-driven market, candidates are evaluating employers on more than just holiday allowance or pension contribution. According to a recent report, 89% of employees say they are more likely to be loyal to purpose-driven companies. This is especially true for younger generations who want to be part of something; something that aligns with their values, something that considers its impact on community and planet, and something that inspires them.

Organisations that make positive contributions to their community and environment have increased levels of employee pride, fulfilment and intention to stay.

Tips for success

Done properly, defining a purpose should fundamentally shape the way your organisation is run and the decisions that are made. Consider which movements or organisations align with your company’s ethos and find ways to take action.

For example, Incite has recently been accredited as a Living Wage Employer, meaning all of our employees and on-site contractors are paid a fair day’s pay. This is independently calculated, voluntary, and based on the real cost of living.

As a people-powered movement aiming to end in-work poverty, the Living Wage accreditation demonstrates our belief that all workers deserve to live a good quality of life. This too could be a simple, yet powerful way for your business to begin building a sustainable workplace.