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10 Ways Workplaces Can Save Energy

10 Ways Workplaces Can Save Energy
12 December 2022

Ulla Riber, Head of Group Workplace Management at ISS, looks at energy management in workspaces through the lens of employee morale and wellbeing.

Ulla is supporting ISS’s customers around the world in creating future-proof workplaces and great workplace experiences. Ulla has for many years translated mega trends and corporate strategies into working environments and workplace designs that strengthen employee attraction, productivity and wellbeing in an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. She has been with ISS for six years.



Picture: a photograph of Ulla. Image Credit: ISS


Saving Energy and Supporting Employee Wellbeing


As the temperature outside is getting colder, the real and present need to keep organisational operating costs lean, especially within energy, is forefront in the minds of facilities and operations professionals. Conversations about how to achieve these cost savings are not new, as we find ourselves at this juncture between COVID recovery and the current energy crisis and inflation.   

However, we know from conversations with our more than 40,000 customers across 30 countries worldwide that talent attraction and retention are a key concern and priority. Many businesses are still struggling to get their employees back to the offices with a higher regularity. The key challenge is to find the right balance between offering employees hybrid and flexible ways of working while securing company culture and the ‘sense of belonging’ through the physical workplace and social interactions.


"All in all, savings are not necessarily equal to reduced workplace experiences. We will just need to think smarter and always include the employees on the journey."  


This means that the employee workplace journey – the entire experience from entering the workplace to leaving it again - must not be affected by office cost savings.

Here are ten ways to implement energy savings at various touchpoints in this employee journey while at the same time enhancing sustainable behaviours and reinforcing employee wellbeing.


1. Workplace Touchpoint: Entering The Building


Employees may not be aware of the reasons why the temperature of ventilation systems cannot be changed on demand. As these systems are designed to condition large spaces and are therefore not as flexible as domestic systems which can react quickly when heat is turned up or down, staff should be encouraged to bring in extra layers. This ask can be accompanied with context on how systems work. Blankets and cushions on office chairs, featuring brand logos and colours, can present a low-cost alternative to turning up the heat or air conditioning.  


2. Workplace Touchpoint: Using On-Site Gyms and Showers


Whenever possible, turn the hot water down to 60° or below to reduce energy consumption. This measure can be used alongside a timer system for showerheads, and lower water pressure in these specialist spaces as well as at all sinks.


3. Workplace Touchpoint: The Desk


Natural light offers many proven mental and physical benefits, such as helping to regulate sleep patterns and acting as a source of essential vitamin D when it’s sunny. It is a natural mood booster, which can go on to improve retention and productivity and can reduce eye strain. The business benefit is obvious - making the best use of natural light will cut down on electricity bills and can be maximised by simply rearranging partitions and cubicle walls and driving activity towards the best-lit areas of the building.


4. Workplace Touchpoint: Preparing Lunch


Commercial kitchens use, on average, 2.5 times more energy per square metre than other commercial spaces. Appointing an "energy champion" within catering teams will ensure that the responsibility for monitoring energy consumption during prep, service and clean-up, will be assigned to one person rather than potentially being missed.


5. Workplace Touchpoint: Taking Breaks


Kitchens, canteens and refreshment stations house multiple energy-intensive appliances including water filters, boiling water taps, kettles, coffee makers, microwaves and of course, many more. Ensure these appliances have a schedule and sleep modes enabled, to cut down on costs without minimising the employee experience.


6. Workplace Touchpoint: Cleaning and Packing Away


Cleaning and kitchen crews can adopt default energy-use guidelines, such as controlling the use of dishwashers and their settings. When economy or shorter dishwasher programmes without pre-rinse options are used, the appliance will run for less time and use less energy to heat water, by opting for less intensive settings.


7. Workplace Touchpoint: Moving From Room to Room for In-Person Meetings


Open doors and curtains are responsible for significant heat loss within rooms and enclosed spaces. Close doors and curtains when spaces are not in use, taking care to check for any large gaps underneath doors or spaces in skirting boards or around external-facing pipes that can be filled, and report these to relevant teams. 


8. Workplace Touchpoint: Collaborating


Having a huge video wall or several monitors in your conference room looks impressive and can aid collaboration with colleagues in other locations. At the same time, visual aids and always-on screensavers are not always necessary or noticed, particularly during internal meetings and presentations. 


9. Workplace Touchpoint: The End of the Working Day


The ritual of powering down computers and their components, including standalone monitors, once work is finished, can be embedded throughout teams using visible checklists. These lists will be different for different teams, depending on levels of responsibility for facilities.


10. Workplace Touchpoint: Working Late


Review and challenge any site that operates 24/7, just in case staff want to come in early or stay late to finish projects. If this type of work happens infrequently, narrowing the window of access and communicating this clearly to staff can produce both energy and people costs, eliminating the need to employ security and support staff around the clock.

Weaving these measures into already-familiar rituals in the workspace can make them easier and quicker for all employees to adopt. In addition, encouraging and reinforcing these behaviours is important after they’ve been announced, as it can help organisations to see impactful cost savings over time.

All in all, savings are not necessarily equal to reduced workplace experiences. We will just need to think smarter and always include the employees on the journey.  

Picture: a photograph of two people, one is holding a mug, and the other is using a coffee cafetiere to pour into a mug that they are holding. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ulla Riber | Published 12 December 2022


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