Environmental awareness is at an all-time high, and offices generally have sizable carbon footprints. To counter this, some companies have attempted to eliminate paper from the workplace. However, this practice can lead to disorder and confusion among employees, hindering productivity in the workplace. It is important for decision-makers to know that there are other, less inhibitive strategies to improve their offices' eco-friendly standards. 

Invest in new technology
U.S. Green Technology suggested implementing more modern, eco-conscious gadgets to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, offices waste crazy amounts of water in bathroom and kitchen sinks, due to excess employee use. Everyone does it – you turn on the water and let it run for a few seconds, to make sure the temperature is right. But imagine hundreds of people doing that a few times a day. That's a ton of water being thrown out. The source recommended investing in faucet aerators, which preserves water and eliminates waste. 

Eco-computing is another emerging practice reported by U.S. Green Technology. It sounds like some novel technological breakthrough, but it really isn't. Simply put, eco-computing consists of small steps individuals can take to lower computer emissions, such as turning off the monitor while away from their desks, unplugging the unit overnight and dimming the office lights slightly so that monitors can be kept at a lower light setting and still be legible. These are probably the easiest changes to achieve widespread action, as they cost nothing and can be completed by individual staff members.

Another trend in sustainability, according to the source, is replacing fluorescent lights with long-lasting and low-footprint LED tube lights. Many households have starting converting to LEDs for their assured longevity, and offices are now following suit. If your office is really behind the times, and still uses incandescent bulbs, then it's definitely time for a change! 

Encourage employees to get involved
Employees can do a number of individualized things to help reduce your company's carbon footprint. For example, if possible, taking public transportation, biking, carpooling or just working from home (which is obviously not appropriate for every office) are a few ways to make commuting more green. It all starts from the top, however. It's important to keep your employees educated about various green initiatives, and work together to come up with solutions to cut your emissions – and, in most cases, simultaneously cut expenses. Gretchen Digby, director of Global Sustainability Programs at Ingersoll Rand, found that the best way to create a culture centered around environmental consciousness is to build a strong foundation of expertise among employees, as she explained in an article for GreenBiz

Digby also favored partnering with external, sustainability-centric programs that have career-enhancing appeal. Since educational meetings are generally voluntary, it may be hard to convince employees to spend time away from their desks to attend a workshop or seminar. But, if there is a clear benefit for them in terms of career advancements, you may see higher turnouts. The most important part, she opined, is to provide the necessary tools for employees to use. For example, checklists, email reminders and additional literature are all good items to hand out for staff consumption. 

Going paperless as a way to promote environmental health is a big trend right now, but paper is such an essential part of office life that this process can seem more counter-productive than anything from a business perspective. There are plenty of other ways to reduce your carbon footprint, and it's a subject worth exploring.