Creating a sustainable workplace

17 June 2020. Features.

Article by Charlotte Bradney, Project Designer

 

Our commitment to a more sustainable way of working has opened us up not only to understanding how to build a new workplace in a sustainable, ethical manner, but also how elements within the design can encourage and impact a company’s ability to operate sustainably on a daily basis.

Why should you be thinking sustainability?

We all understand the importance of sustainability for a brighter future, what you might not know is that the modern workforce has a level of expectation for employers to provide them with a sustainable office to work from. It’s hugely important to them, so much so that 3/4 of millennials are open to taking a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.

Design to encourage sustainable operations

Much like how your office design centres around culture and caters to working styles, it also encourages new behaviours. Throughout the refurbishment of our home Sterling House, in which we were awarded a SKA Gold rating, and in the workplaces of our clients we have introduced elements in the design to do just that.

With global sustainability initiatives on the rise, such as BREAAM and LEED, it’s becoming high on businesses agendas to ensure their offices are not only beautifully designed and functional but working to give something back to the environment.

Facilities

Smart storage solutions that are incorporated into the design house opportunities to encourage sustainable behaviours such as rechargeable battery power banks and mixed recycling bins are some of the initiatives that we introduced in Sterling House and led to a silver sustainably award.

More technical approaches like choosing a water-saving, low-flush or dual-flush version for the WCs, can use as little as six litres of water per flush compared to nine or more litres for other toilets. These considerations applied for our choice of taps and staff showers at Sterling house too meaning that small, smart choices can make for a big overall impact in water saved.

Whether you are trying to achieve a FitWell approved scheme or simply looking to provide your staff with an office that encourages both positive physical and metal benefits, features such as bicycle storage solutions act as an incentive for staff to cycle into work, which go hand in hand with cycle schemes.

On a more aesthetic level, careful consideration of material selection can help tick both the functional and sustainability box too. Some of the sustainable materials we used at Sterling House include a full Bolon floor to the design studio which is formed from recycled materials and is manufactured free from hazardous chemicals using 100% renewable energy. Cork walls dotted around the office make for great pin up and collaborative places aiding the agile working approach and are also excellent to help absorb acoustic noises. This material is actually carbon negative which in short, means that the overall effect is to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than you add to it.

Ethical sourcing

Upcycled materials and sustainably sourced furniture are on the rise with more solutions available with a lower impact. Our in-house furniture team source quality furniture products that are designed for long standing, frequent office use so it lasts.

Flexible spaces

We have worked with clients to design spaces in a way that enables you consider expanding your current workspace rather than relocating premises. We’ve worked with clients that have taken a larger space that initially required, however gives them the flexibility to grow with the business, and in the interim sublet the additional space.

Flexible spaces require thinking outside of the box, innovative solutions such as folding meeting room walls and doors can create an open plan events and conference space in one seamless transition for those all-important all company meetings. It is fundamental that the spaces we design work hard for our clients which is why flexibility and multi-use is key. In between the traditional workstation and formal meeting room there is an array of possibilities that can be opened up to aid agile working approaches. Whether its having informal meetings in a sofa setting, quick team scrums around high collab tables or getting some heads down work done in a ‘focus booth’, these spaces inject an energy and sense of autonomy amongst staff, allowing for seamless growth of headcount that means your space evolves with your business.

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