We live in an overwhelming, frenetic, and continuously evolving reality. Your role as an office manager has probably changed just as much as mine has.
While the pandemic makes management constantly relearn how to lead teams remotely, office managers’ priorities have changed this year. More than ever, we’re now required to lead a strong environmental movement.
I have 15 years of work experience and have worked as an office manager for more than 3 years. In that time, I have seen change happen firsthand.
I’ve noticed that a growing number of employees are interested in sustainability. They don’t just want to learn how to live sustainably – they want to work on change. They want their work to feel meaningful. Over the years, I’ve also realized that, in my role, I have the power to make a company become much more eco-conscious.
NEW STANDARD.STUDIO asked me to share how you can start an “ecolution” in your role. So here’s my tips on “turning your team and management green”.
It's not about being the best or the most outspoken. You don’t need to tell people off. Just stand up for what you value and do things accordingly.
Office managers are passionate and committed employees and therefore are the company’s best spokespeople.
As ambassadors, it is our duty to inspire trust. We are the ones who cultivate a positive spirit and ensure support for the team amidst change and adversity. And what we do and how we do it is seen by others – and that is powerful in itself.
Creativity is an essential tool for adapting to change. Office managers are experts when it comes to getting creative and meeting expectations without a budget.
How can you make the office greener with zero costs?
Buy or collect secondhand furniture, sell or donate unused equipment or rent new ones, grow plant cuttings from your team’s favorite home pots instead of buying new ones, sublet unused office space, etc.
Do small things that people around you will notice and comment on, and eventually they might also feel inspired.
Subscribe to newsletters and follow greenfluencers on all your social media channels. Create your own database with notes, pictures, references, websites and articles. Never stop collecting information!
Communicate the most inspiring ideas, initiatives, and successes stories to your team in a monthly newsletter or in a Slack channel. Take up space and talk about your discoveries openly.
Everyone can contribute to a company’s success, and by joining forces greater goals can be achieved.
Reach out to communities and other office managers to share ideas and experiences.
Build a “green team” of colleagues who are already interested in the subject. Ideally, find an eco-partner-in-crime to support your initiatives.
Also, make it a party and never forget to invite everyone to join the company's sustainable journey.
Before disclosing your sustainable intentions, make sure you come up with an action plan first: Identify the pain points and define solutions to improve the environmental impact of office activities.
The best way to approach the C-level is with a presentation of the action plan. Try to use their language and include not only the company’s overall goals but also the short- and long-term results of your proposed action measures and compare them to the risk of ignoring the (necessary) change.
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability is no longer a trend. It has become an unavoidable commitment, and companies face responsibility for the impact their activities have on the environment and on society’s future. There’s no longer an excuse for postponing measuring, reducing, and offsetting emissions. There’s no Planet B.
Don't wait for others to validate your plans. Trust your greenest instincts, act, and show leadership in tackling the needs of the immediate future.
Versatility characterizes office managers, who always adapt to any given situation. Depending on who we’re addressing, using specific vocabulary will help us be more persuasive.
When approaching the C-level with a sustainability topic, you may want to consider using the following terms: innovation, opportunity, competitive advantage, pioneers, visionary, genius, etc.
The majority of employees perceive new projects as additional work. When it comes to involving the team in your action plan, you have to be creative and find ways to make their collaboration seem effortless.
Your passion and drive won’t be enough to get the team involved. In addition, you should also anticipate their designated roles and tasks:
– If you want your team to join a demo, prepare the protest signs in advance or arrange all materials necessary for a quick and easy build.
- If you want your team to recycle, provide them with recycling bins, designate recycling areas in the working space, and post the guidelines on the walls.
When a pandemic shows us that hierarchies do not matter (at all), it is the bottom-up actions that have the most power. If there’s anyone in the company who cares about the welfare of employees and always achieves the impossible, it’s the office manager.
Ask any team that’s achieved anything worthwhile, and they will tell you that, at some point, there was an office manager helping make the magic happen. You have the power to change the lives of many. And trust me, I know what I’m talking about when I say: You can change lives, too!
Expert Opinion by
With a big heart and motivation to make people come together, Carmen became an events manager after her interior architecture studies at EASD in Valencia. Eventually and with a generalist attitude, she joined an early stage startup – Coya – to help build up the company’s structures. Carmen is passionate about the impact an office manager can have on the lives of teams. She’s a sustainability advocate and is currently working on her first book.