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Green with Envy: How Sustainability is Becoming a Standard in the Modern Workplace

Changes to the economy and the environment seems to have spurred investment into sustainable technologies. These technologies are not only being incorporated in homes, but in modes of transportation and the workplace itself. Businesses, investors, employees and customers are interested in partnering, working with or supporting companies adopting sustainable practices.

Employers are becoming more receptive to the needs of employees and incorporating designs for additional comfort and flexibility. Learn more about the green changes coming to a workplace near you.

What Trends Are Becoming a New Standard?

Climate change has become a powerful motivator and has been increasingly incorporated into business strategies. More investment has gone into utilizing clean energy with an increase in venture capital investment and the filing of clean energy patents. However, these aspects may not be easily observed by the average employee in a company, except in company statements. The majority of consumers believe that the “greenness” of a company is “somewhat important” to “very important” when making a purchasing decision, according to a State of Green Business report. There appears a push both from investors and consumers for more sustainable practices to be incorporated in companies.

What Can Employees See Now?

Employees may observe more sustainable practices come to their office environment. Small changes in office areas, such as the addition of office plants, may increase productivity by as much as 15 percent. When it comes to plants in the office, succulents and air plants have become popular as they require little maintenance and offer pleasing shapes and colors. Terrariums are also another option.

New office concepts have come to the workplace. Employees may see hot-desking, meet-point tables, breakout furniture and modular soft seating as some of the ideas and types of furniture being used as part of a flexible design mentality in companies. In this way, employers hope to meet the evolving needs of employees. “Unconventional Work Area” design include elements like a “living room” and a conference room with bean bag chairs, sofas, plants, yoga mats and more. This type of design is one of the macro trends now offered. This design looks much like the “Homestyle Comfort Design” intended to address the desires of colleagues and make the work environment more like home. Other design ideas such as “Dynamic Spaces” are flexible and can serve multiple functions with furniture to suit. Moveable green wall dividers and plants and containers may be seen as part of this trend.

More sustainable practices may come into play when it comes to new construction. We've already seen this for some time in real estate — things like smart technology and green design principles are appealing to more and more people every year. Companies prioritizing the health and productivity of their employees may design and build according to the WELL Building Standard. This certification addresses light, air, comfort and mind in a workspace. The WELL Building Standard is part of the Biophilic design which attempts to bring more natural elements into the workplace. The core of this design trend is to use natural lighting, live plants, textures and patterns into the workplace environment. This design can be seen in large tech hubs and in metropolitan areas.

As companies become more aware of how the business environment can impact the health and comfort of employees, new designs toward comfort, flexibility and more natural elements are being seen in workplaces.

Why Are Businesses Going Green?

There is a growing push to incorporate sustainable practices within companies. Sustainability is attractive to investors and partners looking to work with a company with shared core values. Consumers are becoming more mindful of the products that they buy and are using their purchasing dollars to support those companies invested in the environment and the health of their employees. Improvements in building and office designs are a way to attract and retain talent in competitive industries that value comfort, flexibility and the ability to collaborate. Changing environmental concerns are trickling down into construction options for buildings and new certification standards provide guidance on how to improve work environments to the advantage of employees. Healthy employees can be more productive and the new changes to business environments can work to create a better work culture.

Written by, Ryan Tollefsen, REALTOR
Unity Home Group at Keller Williams Realty Alaska Group

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