The green movement has been adopted by growing companies and organizations, making it one of the most prominent emerging design trends in the 20 century. Office designers are embracing sustainable alternatives with a low carbon footprint.
ESG framework, short for Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, was created as criteria for investors to measure sustainability and impact of their investments correctly. Accelerated by the heightened social, governmental, and consumer preference for sustainable development, this ESG framework has been extended beyond its original investment field. It now describes much of the expectations from society for organizations and companies. Achieving ESG metrics is on the top list of businesses.
Yet, how can workplace strategies demonstrate those ESG, and what are ESG practices in the office design? Let’s demystify the concept and discuss the best ESG movement for organizations in the modern centuries.
Why adopt ESG in the workplace strategy?
Without question, a strong ESG proposition can safeguard a company’s long-term success. The benefits of this three-aspects framework in the workplace strategy through:
- Economically: A sustainable workplace can save money through energy-savings methods, reduce the cost of operation for that organization, and eliminate waste by renewable materials. According to the research from McKinsey, executing ESG rightly can affect operating profits by as much as 60 percent. In addition, a strong ESG proposition can increase the company’s reputation in the industry, attract and retain suitable employees, increase employee motivation and satisfaction.
- Socially, an organization with solid ESG credentials can help it drive the customers and tap into the new market. Nowadays, customers are willing to “go green” when 70% of them would pay an additional 5% for a green product with the same level of performance compared to the non-green alternative. Moreover, starting sustainability programs can help the organization reduce regulatory and legal interventions.
- Environmentally: Environmental sustainability is one of three pillars in the ESG framework. Practicing sustainable workplaces save the planet and the future. A variety of sustainability tools can be used to achieve goals. A workplace with sustainable policies positively contributes to the fight against climate change.
Demonstrate ESG practices in workplace strategy
Section 1: Environmental
Environmental aspects refer to the movement of companies in reducing the carbon footprint and waste in the workplace and operational activities. Workplace strategies seek solutions for climate change and eliminate carbon emissions, solve the problem of pollution, energy efficiency, and waste management. Some sustainable office space ideas to optimize an office reaching this environmental goal include:
Materials are essential for the green achievement of the office, both exterior and interior. In planning the office design, high embodied materials like concrete, steel, and cement should be minimized and replaced with renewable materials. High recycled contents are also encouraged whenever possible—reusing furniture from the old building when the renovation is an easy way to reduce the waste to the environment.
Bio-based design materials, which require less energy, are the future trend, including Cob, Recycled steel, Sheep’s wool, Reclaimed, recycled or sustainable wood, Straw, Bamboo, Recycled plastic, Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam. The critical thing is office designers need to consider the environmental credentials of the procurement, installation and use of materials.
Office design with minimalism is capturing the interest of many organizations. A smart building that can be easily adapted to different tenant scenarios and future circumstances will be lower in carbon footprint. The workplace design can prepare for flexible floor divisions with multifunctional products, independently accessible tenant areas, and adequately sized support spaces will help companies save high costs and construction time.
Having an overall audit about the energy consumption of the workspace will provide the benchmark for office designers. Besides, it will help manage future performance and understand the weaknesses in working practices. We can apply some methods in the office space for the goal of energy efficiency, including:
- Utilize the natural light, and use the appropriate lighting. Zonal lighting with individual controls and LED lighting are sustainable options in the workplace strategy.
- Maintaining certain levels of light will help support productivity at work.
- Arrange the workstations so that each of them will receive the same amount of natural light. For example, in the office design for DPV, the whole workplace is maintained open and infused with natural ambient light from large windows.
- Reduce the thermal comfort zone adjust the temperature of the whole building to a more tolerable level.
Section 2: Social
The S in ESG stands for social – describe how well an organization manages its relationships with its stakeholders, including its people, suppliers, customers, and the community. Specifically, they are all about:
- Health and safety
- Working conditions
- Employee benefits
- Human rights
- Diversity and inclusion
- Impact on local communities
The workplace demonstrates the Social responsibility commitment from the organization. It is the place to welcome all people, regardless of their background, to come together, to learn and contribute as part of a community. That role is reinforced after the pandemic. Post-pandemic, isolation and lockdown, the workplace is the social hub for employees to collaborate on team tasks and gatherings.
The COVID-19 lockdown also leads to the growing importance of wellbeing at work. Office designs incorporate autonomy, allowing people to choose where and how they want to work and empower them to take control of their working environment. Office layout plays a vital role in helping the organization achieve this goal. Mental health is also prioritized through office design elements such as natural ambient lights, colors, indoor plants and outdoor gardens. Gym and Yoga facilities are also provided to encourage movements.
A human-centric workplace is a trend in the “the new normal” post-pandemic. When the organizations place their people at the center of operation, they have successfully addressed changing workforce preferences. They are likely to become future business leaders in a post-pandemic world.
Section 3: Corporate Governance
The governance aspect in the ESG framework is essentially about how well the top floor executive management and the board of directors manage the organizations. Some metrics include:
- Audit committee structure
- Risk and control
- Accounting and Tax practices
The company’s policies can demonstrate how responsible corporate Governance is. The sustainable workplace is initiated by the top management board, which has influenced the workplace strategy.
Another vital part of Governance is transparency. This metric is no longer an option; it’s a must these days. Regardless of the size of the businesses, all organizations can embrace transparency in the supply, sales, and transportation chains. Increasing the level of openness to the public by understanding what the customers want to know, and showcasing them, can have a massive impact in shifting sentiment and generating consumer goodwill and trust.
Accelerated by the green movement and the pandemic, ESG Framework is becoming a prerequisite for business success. A strong ESG proposition will boost the performance of the business. Otherwise, organizations that fail to adjust to the new ESG realities will be left behind.
If you want to know more about sustainable workplaces and achieving sustainability accreditations for your workplace, get in touch with our team.