Companies are proud to advertise their environmental efforts, but being eco-friendly is not merely a marketing campaign or checklist to be completed. When office spaces “go green”, everyone benefits. Cleaner air and waste disposal results in a healthier work environment. More efficient lighting and energy can help save thousands in business expenses. Greener initiatives will also attract more progressive employees and partners.
Above all, the company can take pride in being part of the solution towards a more sustainable world for everyone to live in.
If you want to fulfill your environmental ambitions, then you need to fully embrace the concept. This means doing your part in being environmentally friendly, and it should start at the very top of the company by using Eco-friendly office materials.
Eco-friendly Office Ideas
1. Cut down on paper waste
The number of paper offices waste around the world is just staggering. People print unnecessary copies or only use a single side of the page. Nearly every modern printer will print on both sides which instantly reduces paper waste by fifty percent. Not only is this advantageous in terms of the environment, but it will also drastically cut your expenditure on paper.
If you are using only one side of the page, cut it into squares, and use the blank side as scrap paper for taking telephone messages or as recycled post-it notes. The important thing here is to ensure that no more paper is wasted.
2. Use eco-friendly office materials and supplies
Every day millions of paper cups are used once for water, tea or coffee and then thrown away. This is costing your company and the environment dearly over the course of a year.
By giving each employee their own reusable drinks bottle for the water dispenser, you can quickly slash the number of paper cups that are wasted. Furthermore, many hot drink cups are actually very difficult to recycle. By providing people with an environmentally friendly option, you remove thousands of cups from the equation, regardless of the size of your company, and at very little expense. Novel Coworking offers glassware at every location and is washed daily.
Consider using other eco-friendly materials: recycled paper or card stock, energy-efficient light bulbs, and automated thermostats. These substitutions will achieve the same results with a significantly lower carbon footprint.
3. Avoid single-brew coffee makers
Most often found near the Coworking space is a beautiful, eco-friendly coffee machine. These differ from the current trending office coffee machine (single use/pod-style) which produce plastic waste with every cup. By altering your coffee habits, you will drastically cut the amount of wasted packaging.
By following these simple suggestions, you can make a huge difference to the environment, and it doesn’t need to be expensive, the majority of the options suggested above will not only help the planet but save your company on office expenses.
4. Go digital where possible In many scenarios, we can now use digital alternatives to analog practices. For example, note taking apps can be downloaded instead of writing on paper. PDFs of presentations can be shared over printed handouts.
5. Power down when not in use
Lights, computers, printers, televisions, and other electronic equipment can consume a lot of energy. Don’t leave them on after work- automate their power cycles or simply turn them off before closing up for the day. It may seem like a minor inconvenience, but this simple practice can result in hundreds of dollars of savings.
How to Create a Green Office Program
Brainstorm with your team
You can’t have a company-wide green policy if you don’t first get team involvement. Grab the top leaders of the company in a room and have a long discussion about how the company can strive towards greener practices. Be sure to write down every suggestion- don’t pick and choose the easiest ones.
Eventually, you should have a list of different ideas. Some will be as simple as using CFL bulbs, others will be more complicated, like partnering with eco-friendly brands.
Pick two or three initiatives for the year
With all these ideas, the company may feel overwhelmed and confused as to how to proceed. Start with just two or three initiatives. These are greater projects or missions for the company during the year. For example, a company may choose to have an energy efficiency initiative, choosing to cut down their energy use by 30% for the next year.
By limiting the company’s initiatives to two or three, the entire team can focus and track their efforts more accurately.
Encourage green ideas within the office
Going green isn’t just a bunch of ideas on a board, it’s a mindset even during working hours. Be sure to remind your team of the company’s green goals, whether it’s through a poster on the wall or a weekly email. Best of all, reward individuals who take environmental friendliness seriously- with time off or even an excursion to a local restaurant.
Measure your program’s success
Green initiatives mean nothing without some system of tracking and accountability. For every green initiative, the company agrees to, make sure there is a manager or team leader assigned to hold his team accountable. Create sheets and timelines to accurately measure your team’s progress towards the company’s green goals.
Green Office Certifications
For businesses that manage to go above and beyond, transforming their business to be eco-friendly, certain certificates can be attained. LEED certifications are handed out to buildings that have “substantial impact on the health and wellbeing of people and the planet”. ENERGY STAR certifies products as well as buildings for meeting certain energy efficiency standards. Fair Trade, while not centered around energy, ensures that every person in the supply chain receives fair and humane treatment, and has become popular for food products.
The environment is essential for our future generations, which is why we have to look after it today. Don’t just talk about being an environmentally friendly company, walk the walk and set a good example, today!
Even ordinary workplaces have heroes. They may not wear capes or fight crime, but they help people all the same. Whether it’s the accountant making sure everyone is paid or the electrician keeping the lights on, everyone at work benefits from each other in an invisible but harmonious way.
But then again, some heroes may perceive themselves to be more heroic than they really are. They take credit for the work of others or fail to accept any of their own flaws.
We’ll explain the hero complex and how it can poison a work environment. You’ll learn whether the Hero Complex is a disorder, how it manifests in a workplace, and what to do when you see it in your team.
What is the Hero Complex?
The Hero Complex, sometimes called the Hero Syndrome or Savior Complex, is when someone strives to be the hero of the situation. No matter the situation or the odds, they want to be the ones that save the day. In some definitions, a person with a hero complex will even create situations that inconvenience or harm others, just so they can take credit for fixing it later.
Is the Hero Complex a mental disorder?
No. While the Hero Complex is mainly a psychological phenomenon, it is not a diagnosable disorder or a clinical term. However, the reported symptoms of the Hero Complex (such as an exaggerated sense of self-worth), is similar to a grandiose delusion, also known as delusions of grandeur. Patients of GD consider themselves famous, wealthy, and powerful, sometimes even referring to themselves in divine terms.
The Hero Syndrome in the Workplace
Many believe that Hero Syndrome is commonly found in people with civil service jobs: police, firemen, and doctors. But the truth is that Hero Syndrome will be found just about anywhere with an office. You may work for them, or they may work for you. In fact, you may even have a Hero Complex!
Although it may seem negative, the Hero Complex is not necessarily a cause for concern. Some people simply want more recognition than others, which is common in an individualistic and capitalist culture. However, there are cases when Hero Complex could result in some dangerous situations.
The Dangers of the Hero Complex
Bitter and hostile environments – As you can imagine, having one person consistently boast about their achievements and abilities can grow old pretty quickly. In teams that require communication and teamwork, the one with Hero Complex may annoy and alienate his teammates.
An illusion of productivity – People with hero complexes may have an inflated sense of their heroism. Although they may remember saving the project before a deadline, other team members may remember them as the source for the delays in the first place.
Arrogance clouding judgment – Those concerned about their self-worth may prioritize their ego over their peers. The result- a focus on vanity metrics and titles over actual work. For example, a doctor may be so focused on getting a promotion that they may neglect their managerial duties in the hospital.
How to Identify the Hero Complex
Remember, the Hero Complex is not a diagnosable condition, so there’s no surefire way of knowing whether someone “has” the complex. But there are signs that may suggest a person is more likely to have the Hero Complex.
Showboating. People with Hero Complex like recognition- for their work, their clothes, their lifestyle.
Preaching or saving. Some people call it the Savior Complex because of their need to rescue those in need. They may be too quick to give advice or care more about the photo op at a charity event.
Narcissism. While showing off and helping others isn’t exactly a crime, it becomes questionable when the person is vain or self-centered. Narcissism is one of the telltale signs for a Hero Complex.
How to deal with the hero complex
Once again, not everyone with a hero complex will stir trouble. It’s perfectly acceptable if anybody is self-centered or boastful. Only when it begins to affect the work of the business do you need to consider your options.
If you suspect someone of having a disruptive hero complex, first assess why you came to that conclusion- is their behavior affecting the rest of the team’s mood? Does it result in less than acceptable work?
Talk to the person, or if you have an HR department, have someone mediate the conversation first. Let them know that while strong personalities are welcome, it should never make others feel miserable or less productive.
Imagine the reaction from your CEO if you told them that you had found a way for the business to save $1685 per employee. According to the Center For Disease Control, $1685 is the average amount of money per employee that businesses lose every year due to sickness. By finding a way to reduce sickness and increase employee attendance drastically, the potential savings available to any company are staggering. The question is, how can you solve the problem and improve your employee’s health?
There are lots of great ways that you can encourage your staff to improve their health. Here are some ideas that are easy to implement within the workplace, are not exorbitantly expensive, and should encourage participation amongst a large portion of your team.
WHAT ARE SOME POPULAR WELLNESS ACTIVITIES?
EXAMINE THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN YOUR BREAK ROOM
Take a walk around your break room and assess what refreshments you currently offer your staff. If an employee wants to eat and drink healthily, is it possible in your establishment, or have you inadvertently placed barriers in the way? One of the most staggering health statistics published by the Harvard School of Public Health was that whenever someone consumes one can of soda a day, their chances of contracting Type 2 Diabetes increases by 26%. If that wasn’t enough to discourage you, that same can of soda per day also increases your chances of a heart attack by 20% compared with people who consume a lesser quantity of sugary drinks.
Explore healthier alternatives to soda and energy drinks. It’s hard to cut out soda altogether, but you also don’t need it every day. At Novel Coworking, our kitchens are stocked with water bottles, fruit drinks, and naturally flavored beverages. We also have a water fountain with a built-in filter. You can still find chips and cookies, but there are healthy snack options such as pistachio nuts, granola, and fruits. These incremental changes in the workplace kitchen can make a huge difference to everybody’s health.
HOW ABOUT SOME HEALTHY COMPETITION?
Fitbit is a small, relatively inexpensive pedometer, that counts the number of steps an individual takes per day. Fitbit’s software enables competition between individuals or even teams. Imagine a challenge between the accounting department and the design department for instance, with the winning team earning an incentive. Not only will this encourage a bit of competition, but hopefully it will also encourage people to be more active, to walk rather than drive, or even to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Companies can even set up walking clubs early in the morning before work. It also encourages people to think about their lifestyle, and helps to motivate them to change their eating habits and increase their daily exercise.
OFFER A FLU SHOT CLINIC IN THE FALL
Perhaps the busiest time of the year for the vast majority of businesses is in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, that also tends to be flu season, and consequently the time of year when sickness levels peak. One of the ways to tackle this is by offering a flu shot clinic at your workplace. This is a simple and effective method for tackling the issue and provides 4 main benefits:
It demonstrates that you are concerned about your employee’s health, which in turn encourages and develops employee loyalty.
Staff won’t have to miss work to visit their regular physician.
Fewer days are taken off due to the vaccination process.
Because a significant proportion of the employees are likely to take advantage of the flu shot, the likelihood of a large proportion of the staff being ill is drastically reduced.
Organizing a flu shot clinic is a simple process because medical organizations will come in and set everything up for your company, leaving you with an easy day and chance for your employees to get vaccinated.
OFFER FREE OR SUBSIDIZED GYM MEMBERSHIPS
Another excellent idea to encourage and promote health and wellness programs in your company is to offer a subsidy or even a free membership to a local gym for your employees. This need not be as expensive as it might sound and for many employees, it may provide the motivation they require to change their lifestyle. Speak to the local gyms and enquire about the various promotions of deals they may be willing to offer. This could easily be a win-win for both businesses, and it has the added advantage of demonstrating the caring side of your company to the employees.
HOW CAN CORPORATE WELLNESS PROGRAMS BE IMPROVED?
GET FEEDBACK FROM THE TEAM
Wellness programs are only as effective as the team members they serve. It’s important to continually request feedback to better gauge how successful each wellness initiative actually is. Choose an interval of time, whether it’s quarterly or monthly, and issue an anonymous survey or feedback form. Provide a 1-10 scale for rating efficacy and an open-ended answer box.
CREATE METRICS FOR SUCCESS
Surveys measure just one dimension of wellness program success: satisfaction. In actuality, there are many more categories and metrics that determine success. The Society for Human Resource Management lists the following:
Productivity and performance
Value on investment (VOI)
Be sure to include these metrics in your reviews to more accurately determine program success and employee engagement. To learn more about how to measure each one, visit SHRM’s article for more information.
REWARD TEAM MEMBERS FOR THEIR CHOICES
Living healthily should be a reward on its own, but it never hurts to add extra incentive for making the right choices. Consider offering rewards for healthy living, such as a branded water bottle or a Fitbit. For higher tier rewards, offer discounts to the gym, or gift cards for Whole Foods or similar healthy supermarket.
One common concern among non-smokers is the amount of break time that smokers are able to take. To even things out, reward additional time for non-smokers and create smoking cessation rewards, such as extra downtime, or a charitable donation to a foundation of their choice. Whenever possible, recognize the efforts made by a hardworking employee to set an example for the rest of the team.
At Novel Coworking, we are continually striving to find ways to assist and encourage business owners in their journey to success. One way to keep your employees mentally healthy is to find a relaxing and open office environment. Consider looking into coworking spaces that your team can use and collaborate in.
We are always coming up with new and exciting ways to increase sales or improve the morale of your staff, through tips on our blog.
Overworking and mismanagement aside, there’s another force that can rip your team apart from the inside: gossip. With just a few words, feelings are hurt, reputations tarnished, and the team divided. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a newly hired member of the team, it’s important to call out gossip when it starts, and develop practices to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
Gossip can have varying definitions. Some believe gossip must be false, others say gossip must be defamatory. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.”
So whether it’s malicious or harmless is beside the point, as long as the conversation involves someone else and is not yet verified, it can be considered gossip.
Distinguishing gossip from casual conversation
So what separates gossip from ordinary conversation?
For one, gossip has to be about someone else. So employees talking about their own problems do not count as gossip. Nor does it count when one talks about somebody present during the conversation. Typically, gossip has to be about someone who is unaware of the conversation.
Second, gossip is generally untrue, or at the very least, based on unconfirmed rumor. Discussing an employee’s promotion or severance without the chance to speak directly to that person or the manager falls under gossip.
As we mentioned, gossip isn’t always malicious. Sometimes what starts off as an innocent remark can quickly turn into a scathing critique or early judgment. For example, congratulating Jane on her pregnancy may seem like a kind act, until you find out it was only gossip, and you’re left in complete embarrassment.
The effects and consequences of gossip
Gradual disintegration of trust and respect. This is by far the most damaging effect of gossip. Any team that hopes to work effectively together must be founded on mutual trust and respect for one another. The moment gossip begins to circulate, it can be difficult to know who to rely on.
Loss of reputation. Building a reputation can take a lifetime, and reducing it to nothing can take only a few minutes. And it’s not just the reputation of the subject of the gossip, or the person gossiping, but the reputation of the entire team.
Decreased productivity. When teammates are gossiping instead of working, productivity is greatly reduced. When morale suffers from especially damaging gossip, productivity reduction is even worse.
Team division. Instead of moving as a single unit, team members begin to take sides on a matter and becoming increasingly hostile to one another. This can make it difficult to accomplish what used to be simple tasks.
Unintended consequences. Discussing Will and Sarah’s engagement before it’s announced may seem innocuous, but it could also lead down a dangerous path, resulting in needless discussions with HR, strange looks from other team members, and so on.
How to manage gossip in the workplace
State clearly in the employee handbook and in person that gossip and spreading rumors is strictly prohibited. Better to take preventative measures than punitive action. Don’t just settle for including it in company literature, it should be an actively repeated concept in the company culture.
Set training guidelines and examples
Many people are still unaware of what counts as gossip and what counts as a harmless conversation. Educate the team by providing examples and clear definitions. Bring in an HR representative to discuss gossip and related matters to the whole team.
Create opportunities for healthy discussion
The zero-tolerance policy shouldn’t prevent the team from having constructive conversations about superiors. Make sure there are opportunities for team and manager feedback when possible. Doing so may even reduce the need for gossip.
Keep work and personal life separate
Set an example for others. Whenever gossip comes up, make an excuse to get back to work, or call it out when you hear it. Prevent yourself from sharing sensitive information and others will learn to do the same.
Focus on improving employee health
Gossip tends to be the byproduct of a larger issue- whether it’s boredom at work, issues with a coworker, or personal problems deflected onto others. One of the best things a manager can do is to ensure their team is both physically and mentally healthy, with enough breaks between tasks, and a balance between work and home life. Read our previous blog post, Low-Cost Ways To Encourage Better Employee Health for more ideas.
The impact of gossip in the workplace
For all the steps you will take to prevent gossip, it will inevitably happen. A small amount may be normal, even healthy for the team to create a sense of camaraderie. But the moment someone is hurt or tension flares up, actions need to be taken to address those involved, educate the team, and prevent it from happening in the future.
If you’re ever in doubt about whether something is gossip or not, just leave it out of the conversation. You have more to lose and little to gain from gossiping about your team.
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Struggling to spend time with your family while receiving constant push notifications? Overwhelmed by the deluge of hourly news? Or perhaps even anxious about the appearance of your social media profiles?
Those living in the Digital Age face a unique dilemma. Unlike previous generations, people today are inundated with information from multiple devices, through dozens of services, streamed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be a lot for anybody.
Digital wellness refers to the state of one’s physical and mental health in the Digital Age. More specifically, digital wellness refers to preventative measures aimed at regulating and improving the healthy use of technology.
Reducing one’s activity on Facebook or monitoring time spent on a smartphone are just two examples of improving one’s digital wellness.
Most recently, major tech firms are under pressure to include new “digital wellness” features in their services. iOS 12 now has features to help users manage their phone use. Android P now has app timers to cut off use past a certain time limit. The digital wellness revolution has begun, and users must stay cognizant of their prolonged computer or phone use. Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you get started.
Digital wellness apps
Screen Time (iOS) and App Dashboard (Android)
While not technically downloadable apps, both Screen Time and App Dashboard are features in iOS devices and Android devices respectively that allow you to see how you spend your time on your phone. You can also set limits and restrictions on which apps you use and schedule time away from your device. Although it is tucked away in the settings, you don’t need to download or pay anything, and it monitors you as you use your phone.
For a more extensive and user-friendly version of Screen Time or App Dashboard, check out Moment, available for both iOS and Android. It offers the same app/screen monitoring analysis but goes further with a “Phone Bootcamp” that coaches you into limiting your phone use. With a cleaner and more colorful interface, this app also excels at presenting the information in an understandable format.
For parents and caretakers, OurPact offers a comprehensive activity dashboard for your whole family. This app lets you track how your family members or other users spend their phone time, restrict access to unauthorized content, and even locate their position on a map. Best of all, it has cross-platform support, meaning iOS users can continue to track Android users and vice versa.
Why your company should promote digital wellness
Businesses have increasingly relied on technology in the past few decades, from email communication to storing large files on the cloud. There’s no denying the increased efficiency generated by harnessing the power of the Internet. But at the same time, that means employees are more likely to spend their time on computers and phones for a majority of the workday.
One survey found that the average screen time of an office worker is 6.5 hours per day. Only about half the respondents admitted to taking breaks, and the other half claimed to experience eye soreness regularly. Combined with the statistics of mental health issues developed from prolonged use, you have a recipe for a constantly tired and stressed workforce.
Companies play an important role in combating the phone and computer addiction trends. By updating the brand’s wellness program to reduce extended use, the business may just notice a drastic change in the overall workforce performance and mood.
From everyone at Novel Coworking, we hope you get to take a break away from social media and digital devices and spend time with your family and loved ones. See you next year!
If you want to start the day off right, start with breakfast. People call it the most important meal for a reason- not only does it fuel you with energy, but it can also be a great opportunity to bond with your other team members. Unfortunately, because our agendas are so packed, we tend to skip the meal far too frequently.
Here’s the thing: you don’t need to skip breakfast or resort to coffee and a donut each morning! In fact, you can eat something both easy to make and healthy before you start working in a matter of minutes. Here are a few ideas.
Hot Oatmeal with Fruits and Seeds
Oatmeal has become a staple in many breakfasts, largely because it’s quick and filling at the same time. Whether you get the instant microwavable oatmeal pouches or cook it on a stove, you can make oatmeal in just minutes. Top off your bowl with slices of banana, raisins, or cranberries, or with almonds or nuts for an added nutritional kick. If you want to make it sweeter, simply add some brown sugar or honey. Delicious, healthy, and quick.
The egg white omelet is another popular favorite for quick breakfasts. Egg whites are low in calories and high in protein, so this recipe is great even if you’re on a certain diet. Omelets are also infinitely customizable: throw in meats like turkey bacon or vegetables like peppers, mushrooms, and onions as you see fit! Allrecipes has a great recipe for egg white omelets.
Black Bean Breakfast Burritos
Here’s another recipe you can use towards meal prep, and all you need are some black beans, egg whites, and tortillas. Simply cook the beans and eggs, and spread on a warmed tortilla. For more flavor, experiment with adding sour cream, basmati rice, potatoes, cilantro, peppers, and cheese. When you’re done, you can seal leftover burritos in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for later!
Cereal won’t fill you up like this treat. While the prep may take a little more time (get it done the night before work), you can easily have enough left over for the rest of the week! Like other recipes we’ve listed, this one can be modified with your own personal favorite ingredients. This recipe from Deliciously Ella calls for almonds, walnuts, oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, bananas, berries, and honey.
Fruit & Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits
Want something cold and sweet? Breakfast parfaits don’t just taste great, they store easily for future breakfasts too. All you need is some greek yogurt, your choice of milk, and some mixed fruits like cranberries and blueberries. Layer them in a mason jar or bowl, toss in some chia seeds or oats if you like, and voila! There you have it. Save some for later, or make some for the rest of your team!
Due to their health benefits and easy preparation, breakfast smoothie bowls have become quite the recent favorite for working individuals who are looking for a morning energy boost. These creations are delicious, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan! Just as the name indicates, all that is required is to blend some fruits or berries in a blender or food processor, then pour in a bowl with some mixed fruit and toppings. Need more inspiration? Here’s a Berry Coconut Breakfast Smoothie Bowl recipe from Gringalicious.
Carrot Cake Donuts
Donuts don’t have to be bad for you! Take this paleo, gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free twist on the typical donut recipe for example. Fill that donut craving and forgo the guilt – from Thunderbird Food Bars, this Paleo Carrot Cake Baked Donuts with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting is a great snack to bring into the office and share— just make sure to check if anyone has any nut allergies!
Let’s say you’re really in a rush and don’t have time to bake or blend anything. That’s okay! You can still cut up some fresh fruit and mix them in a bowl. Strawberries, bananas, berries, peaches, apples, and watermelon have shown up in many mixed fruit recipes, but feel free to add your own fruits. Pack some to work, or refrigerate for a later snack. Best of all, you can use them as an ingredient in a smoothie or parfait later on!
For those that need a protein snack to go in the morning, you can’t do much better than Chomps! Throw away those gas station beef jerky snacks and trade it for an all-natural, non-GMO, 100% grass-fed beef jerky stick. Chomps is a Novel Coworking client and they are based out of our River North building in Chicago, you can find the Chomps snack at Trader Joe’s, Amazon, Safeway, and other leading supermarkets.
You don’t have to skip breakfast or make a fast food trip before you head into the office. Some of the best treats we listed are easy to make and shareable with the whole team, so there’s no excuse not to give one of these recipes a try!
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