Everyday Enviro with Elise - Greening the co-work space
Author: Elise Catterall
Recently I spent some time working at a WeWork co-working space and I left really impressed with their approach to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. (I should preface all this by saying that this is just one freelancer’s experience with one coworking space, but I was impressed enough (particularly compared to many other workplaces I’ve experienced) to want to write a little bit about it.
In case you aren’t aware, WeWork is a company that provides collaborative workspaces – for freelancers. Established in 2010, it has reached global proportions with offices in 20 countries and more than 250,000 members (and 6000 employees). Australia alone has over 8000 members. This means that every day, thousands of people walk through their doors and take a seat at a desk (or lounge chair or beanbag) to work. This also means that when they institute eco-friendly practices across their spaces, it has the potential to have a huge impact.
These practices range from providing paper straws, reusable cups, mugs, plates and cutlery in their kitchens (and, in some spaces, an onsite barista and kombucha on tap), facilitating remote collaborations to save on travel (e.g. via video conferencing), sourcing sustainable and renewable materials and ensuring ethical labour practices, through to their commitment to become fully carbon neutral by 2023. Most controversial though is their recent commitment to globally becoming a meat-free organisation – not serving any meat at their corporate events, and not reimbursing employees for any meat-based meals. They came to the position after acknowledging the influence that meat consumption has on a person’s environmental impact. Personally, I think this is a great thing that they are doing on a practical level but also on an advocacy level.
The other practices that I found impressive where those aimed at creating a work space that is conducive to wellbeing (which happily leads to greater productivity). This relates to break-out areas for relaxing with beanbags and videogame consoles, gyms, in-house yoga, regular visits from physiotherapists or chiropractors, talks by business coaches, tastings from wholefood companies – the list goes on. All the things that can promote work-life integration and that can often be missing in the work life of employees and freelancers – and they are now at their fingertips.
The exciting part of all of this is that because these spaces house such a wide spectrum of business types and of individuals – those eco-minded and those not - these practices are influencing the behaviours of a wide spectrum of people and hopefully will lead a new normal in workplaces across the board.
See you next time! - Elise
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Author: Elise CatterallElise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.
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