Lockdown has presented businesses across the continent with a range of challenges. But it’s also provided several opportunities to step back and revaluate some older practices, and see if there isn’t a new way of doing things. Energy use is an obvious case in point. How might we take advantage of the lockdown, and slash the amount of energy we consume?
If internal office memos are circulated using real printed paper rather than the digital equivalent, then it follows that your use of paper, printer cartridges and energy will be higher than it otherwise would be. You might make a switch to thinner, cheaper paper – but a better approach is to simply slash your printing altogether. Given that workers may be telecommuting, this is an excellent time to get into the habit of passing on information through the internet.
While fluorescent tubes are still available from specialised retailers like RS Components, they’ve been largely superseded by LED lights. If your employees are working shorter hours because they’re able to do at least a portion of their work from home, then it follows that you’ll need less light in the building.
With that said, lighting is a cost that tends to scale well. A single employee in a given office space might use the same amount of lighting as a few dozen of them, particularly if the office in question is open-plan. As we get into winter, and come to rely less on natural light, this is a concern that may become more pressing.
If you’re planning large-scale changes to your lighting systems while the footfall is lower in your office, then you’ll have the benefit of lower disruption. In many cases, more efficient lights will pay for themselves within a year (and perhaps sooner, depending on what’s being replaced). Perform a cost-benefit analysis and give the changes the go-ahead.
Heat is another cost that won’t scale well when there are few people in the office. In fact, the fewer people there are, the more expensive heating will become – as many bodies tend to produce more heat, and thus the need for artificial heating tends to decline.
Insulation helps to minimise the waste you’ll generate in this way. Cavity walls and lofts can be insulated, and older windows can be replaced with newer double-glazed ones. The heating system itself might also be upgraded, or replaced entirely. Needless to say, this is very disruptive, and thus it’s an undertaking best performed when the office is sparsely peopled.