Digital workplace helps companies achieve sustainability goals

21 Dec 2023
Digital workplace helps companies achieve sustainability goals

Talent shortage is a problem facing companies around the world in recent years. It is an issue that can undermine the sustainability of a business. What can be done to retain staff? In the past, good salary packages were often enough to incentivise employees to stay on. Today, however, people’s way of thinking has changed profoundly. They now place more importance on the quality of life and health. They expect their employers to offer hybrid work, so that they can have work-life balance. They also prefer working at companies that care about staff’s well-being and can offer a comfortable, functional working environment that they are proud of. As all these may find expression in a good workplace design, company owners should consider turning their office into a digital workplace. A digital workplace carries multiple advantages. It can meet employees’ needs, boost their efficiency, establish a positive corporate image for the company, retain talent, and help the company achieve sustainability goals. 


The basics of designing a sustainable workplace

Workplace design plays an important part in maintaining the wellbeing of employees. A workplace with a reasonable design provides employees with a cosy, inspiring work environment, enhances their work efficiency and unlocks their creativity. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2023, 92% of respondents said it is important to them to work for an organisation that provides support for their mental health. Nowadays, many companies adopt hybrid work arrangements and, therefore, the hardware and software of conventional offices can longer catch up with the times. Meanwhile, people attach greater importance to whether companies can fulfil corporate social responsibility, the availability of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) elements in their operations, as well as sustainable development. How do we know if a company cares about these issues? The workplace it provides can be a useful point of reference. The following are some of the basic concepts related to workplace design:

Support Hybrid Work Under the hybrid work model, employees can work and collaborate with others in different locations. Therefore, a physical workplace should have not only a variety of collaborative tools, high-speed and secure internet connection, but also multi-functional areas and the flexibility in using such areas. This way, employees can choose the workplace that suits them and also have the right equipment to collaborate with others face-to-face or remotely anytime. In designing the workplace, company management should take into account what employees really need in order to enhance their sense of belonging to the company. Blindly pursuing style over substance and installing equipment that looks good but is not practical is a no-no.
Give importance to staff’s wellbeing Reasonable use of space is of paramount importance in the modern workplace. An ideal workplace should have some space for employees to wind down and do simple exercises. It should also meet specific health and hygiene standards to ensure employees’ physical wellbeing and safety. For example, a good layout with ventilation can minimise the spread of germs and air pollutants. Regular cleaning and high-tech disinfection measures can also help boost employees’ morale and productivity.
Elements of nature In recent years many people have embraced the biophilia hypothesis, which posits an innate biological connection between human and nature and other living things. On this basis, integrating natural elements in the workplace is conducive to physical and mental health and can boost our creativity and focus. A research report on work environment found that 57% of respondents said natural light would make them feel most connected in the office, compared with outdoor spaces (45%) and plants (31%).
Save energy and reduce emissions Energy conservation and waste reduction are two important elements in sustainable development management. The most common method to achieve these goals involves properly managing energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions in the workplace. This includes making use of natural light and energy-saving lighting systems, and going paperless with file management. As a matter of fact, a good ESG score does not only enhance a company’s reputation but also help retain talent. According to a survey, 86% of employees working for organisations with ESG-related goals said their employer's ESG goals make them proud to work there and make them want to stay with their organisation.



Professional advice ensures smooth transition to digital workplace

Sustainable development of digital workplace covers a broad spectrum of elements. Company management can consider using Workplace Design Services. Professional consultants providing such services can offer a macro perspective on the use of office space based on a company’s future development while taking care of different details. This way, the workplace can be transformed smoothly. Typically, a consultant provides professional guidance in the following areas:

Smart workplace design Big data analytics enables business managers to make full use of every inch of office space and create a comfortable, open working environment. In addition, collaborative and recreational features can be added, such as facilities for employees to relax or do exercises. According to a research report, 73% of respondent said they can work better when they have access to flexible furniture arrangements, such as alternative desks. The adjustable height desk and the walking pad, which employees can use while working at a desk, are widely popular nowadays. These facilities enable office workers to improve their health by working standing and doing exercise at the same time.
Comfortable workspace The digital workplace typically has sufficient lighting and a good sense of space, which effectively reduce energy consumption while keeping natural light-loving employees happy. The Smart Lighting Management system features sensors installed in different areas in a workplace. The level of lighting in different areas is adjusted automatically based on the availability of natural light, thus maintaining a consistent level of brightness throughout the workplace and saving employees the need to manually change the lighting. 
Reduce emissions from the source A digital workplace should strive to minimise energy consumption and carbon emissions in all aspects. Apart from the Smart Lighting Management system, air conditioning systems can be equipped with motion sensors that automatically switch off air-conditioners when an area has been unmanned for a certain period of time, thus reducing carbon emissions. In addition, paper documents can be replaced by electronic copies. Going paperless is a way to help save the environment. It is also a practical arrangement supporting the hybrid work model. At any time and outside the office, employees can store and access files via cloud-based solutions. With process automation, the document approval process can also be accelerated. All these will win the approval of employees and customers while improving a company’s image.
Simplify ESG management Equipped with a variety of built-in formulas, ESG Dashboard is an easy-to-use solution that quantifies the effectiveness of ESG projects. It can consolidate all the time slots for collecting data on governance, energy saving and carbon reduction, and translate the data into simple charts and feasible solutions. These charts and solutions are useful for listed companies in Hong Kong to produce governance reports to be submitted to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for approval. They also help companies reduce management risk, strengthen companies’ corporate image, and reinforce employees’ commitment.
Environmental and hygiene management  Smart facility management involves monitoring indoor air quality in real time and activating smart air purification systems when necessary. Companies can also consider adopting a photocatalyst antibacterial solution by covering their workplace with transparent nano-silver ion coating, which can kill bacteria and keep at bay any coronavirus. This way, employees can work in the office with peace of mind.

There is no standard formula for transforming a conventional office into a smart workplace, given that every industry has their own characteristics. Besides, every business has its own sustainable development goals. One can consider using Workplace Design Services provided by professional consultants who will do all the analytical work and designing in accordance with the pace of business development. That’s the way to create the ideal digital workplace

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