How to Operate a Sustainable Flexible Workspace

Tuesday, November 14 , 2023

Discover three actionable strategies for flexible operators to run their workspaces more sustainably.

Flexible office space can be a highly sustainable workspace model for occupiers, with benefits including reduced commuting emissions, shorter local supply chains, and greater space optimisation. In fact, our research shows that traditional leased offices create 158% more emissions per occupier than flexible space, showing the extend of the environmental impact when comparing the two.

If you have any number of flexible office spaces in your real estate portfolio, meeting you and your customers’ sustainability targets may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

At the recent GCUC UK Conference, Instant’s Sustainability team delivered a workshop on ways that flexible operators can run their spaces more sustainably. What follows are three actionable strategies that can make flex operations more sustainable:

  1. Energy 

    According to the International Energy Association (IEA), the operation of buildings accounts for 30% of global energy consumption. That’s a staggering figure in the grand scheme of environmental impact. The good news is, as a workspace operator, you can work on reducing your energy consumption., as operational energy usage is well within your control through strategies such as:

    • Switching to a green energy tariff or installing on-site renewables;
    • Running a night audit to understand a building’s energy usage when unoccupied, such as overnight or on a weekend; and
    • Monitoring temperate set points to be cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.

    These initiatives can ultimately drive reduced emissions as well as a direct reduction in energy bills, which can increase your bottom line and reduce your carbon emissions.

  2. Supply Chain 

    Understanding why your supply chain is critical to your sustainability initiatives is key. Consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions based on a company's environmental and social impact, and that includes occupiers of office space. A transparent and sustainable supply chain can enhance a brand's reputation. If you’ve set sustainability targets, managing supplier relationships in favor of reducing supply chain emissions both to align to your goals and regulatory compliance.

    Implement practices to understand your current supplier’s sustainability initiatives, such as issuing a supplier questionnaire and asking about their sustainability strategy or overall greenhouse gas emissions. It’s helpful to also have a supplier onboarding process that introduces a hierarchy with must-haves and nice-to-haves.

    You can also mitigate business risk by identifying possible unsustainable practices by suppliers that might lead to resource scarcity, supply chain disruptions, climate change impacts, or geopolitical conflicts over resources. Ultimately, the objective is to develop a shared mindset with your suppliers and build ownership of a shared vision.

  3. Data

Data is king. The accessibility of data allows operators to gain oversight of operational performance of their buildings. Moreover, transparency of data allows for both operators and occupiers to track and report on emissions data and strive for progress towards reducing their carbon emissions.

Tools like our Sustainability Index can help occupiers and workspace providers alike to meet the pressing demands for sustainability in the real estate sector. With the accurate and transparent insights generated by the Index, decision-makers can have the information on hand that’s needed to shape their journey towards achieving Net Zero.

Learn more about Instant’s Sustainability Index.


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