As 21st century business leaders approach both improved ecological and economical models of conducting themselves, they are increasingly finding that these two concerns often intertwine. Simply speaking, energy efficiency equates to financial efficiency, which leads to more funds being put toward pushing the company further instead of keeping it afloat. As far as service industries are concerned, two particular strategies incorporating energy-saving with money-saving are on the rise.
One is the overhaul of the American office in order to bring it up to 21st century green standards, a measure that over time is sure to save businesses enormous amount of money and attract them additional clientèle. The other is complete abandonment of the office altogether in favor of a completely electronic means of conducting business. The pros and cons of these two solutions are outlined as follows:
The Green Office
Keeping a brick & mortar office location and choosing to make it as energy-efficient and as ecologically conscious as possible is great for business. Customers are increasingly flocking to companies that “go green” and the multitude of options has never been more plentiful. For instance, advances in home automation are making their way into the business world. Companies can install climate control systems that allow for businesses to manage all avenues of office energy usage with the flick of a switch.
Once considered an eyesore, solar panel arrays are becoming one of the most attractive features of a business in the eyes of consumers. In addition, paperless means of communicating with customers and even conducting routine forms of business goes a long way in the minds of an increasingly energy and eco-concious public.
But this route isn’t cheap. Tax breaks abound and the business is sure to boom, but the savings are long-term in the making while the up front costs are nothing to shrug off. The most immediate gain will be the ability to call yourself a company that takes the green movement seriously, but don’t expect the boost in attention to cover the cost of your green investments for at least five years.
Going completely virtual is ideal for companies just starting out who aren’t counting on the charms of reality to conduct business; Internet marketers, business bloggers, craftspeople et cetera. There’s no point in operating a costly pollution-creating office if there’s no advantage from a money making perspective. Studies show most people are happier and more productive when working remotely, so why force employees to commute everyday and suffer under wasteful and inefficient office lighting when you save more money and get more out of them by avoiding an office altogether?
When you consider how connected we are and how well we manage working together remotely thanks to mobile technology, running an actual office seems to make little sense. Think about how easy it is to ban paper from the office thanks to email, texts, PowerPoint, flash drives, and social media? What makes removing the office itself any less practical?
But going strictly virtual has its drawbacks. In a world where just about everyone these days owns an online LLC, companies that can back themselves up with a real location are increasingly being considered a precious commodity. As a company that exists in the cloud, you’ll have to go the extra mile in proving your integrity and above all your ability.
In addition, simply removing the office itself is not the only step in going green when going virtual. You have to also do the research to ensure that the data centers and other tech services you depend on are equally concerned about their carbon footprint. It does little good to call yourself a green company when you give your money to those who couldn’t care less.
If you’re an established institution with money in the bank and an image to uphold, then converting to a green office is your best bet. You’ll surely survive long enough to reap the benefits, and a graybeard business such as yours could use a facelift such as green energy investments and updates.
If you’re an up and coming business based in the cloud, then it’s best to skip the brick & mortar office altogether. You could use the extra money and the world could do with one less toxic office. Just make sure to use what you save to concentrate on building your brand in the absence of an actual location.
So which one is the best for business? Hands down it’s going to be the green office. You stay visible and not only that, your green solutions themselves can be visible. Those that can afford it should always opt for this choice if they’re looking to grow even further.
But as far as the environment is concerned, the world is simply better off if companies did without offices. It would mean less people on the road, less energy usage per hour, and less waste created per day. If your image can afford the loss of an off-the-road existence, then opt for a strictly online business.
Article by Alex Summers, appearing courtesy Earth & Industry.