Using Less in our Office

This week, we continue our series about How We Use Less, and look at the steps we take to reduce our consumption in the Office.  Most of these tips and tricks are easy to do but requires a change in our habits.  We found it useful to focus on one small task at a time, so it was easy and simple to leave reminders.  They say it takes 28 days to break a habit and form a new one but changing our habits around the office can lead to saving money and reducing waste.

Here are some of the things we do to Use Less Stuff in and around our office.

Printing & Photocopying
  • In short, we do not print it unless necessary. 
  • When we do need to print, we choose the part of the document we need, for example if it is a 5-page document but we only need the information on page 3 – we only print page 3. 
  • If we need to print multiple pages then we check the layout options before printing, MS Office as standard has margins set to normal, we reset this to Narrow. Changing this setting reduces the number of pages to be printed, saving you ink and paper.
  • If we need to print from excel, again we check the layout options first and reset the margins or use the ‘Print Area’ option to select which part we actual need to print.
  • Double sided printing – where appropriate we reduce the amount of paper used by use the double-sided print option
  • Colour printing – Does it need to be printed in colour, if not then either set your pre-sets to default black and white or change it to black and white only before printing.  Colour printing uses more ink and costs more per page printed on your contract, so minimising colour printing can bring savings.
  • Finally ensuring you have a good contract in place with your photocopy supplier is essential, last year we used one of our preferred suppliers to renegotiate our contract with our photocopy supplier, we went from spending circa £50 per month to £3/month on our per page print contract.  As a small business this is a big saving, imagine what those savings could equate to in a larger business.
Office Consumables

As a small business, we are not able to buy confectionary office supplies like tea, coffee, toilet rolls etc from a larger supplier as we do not consume enough to benefit from discounted pricing.  However, as a small business we can be agile.  We have found we can still buy in bulk for long shelf life items like tea, coffee, toilet rolls etc but we utilise supermarkets.

As an example, we buy good quality coffee but only when it is on offer in the supermarket. When I joined CRC/ULS we were just buying the biggest cheapest tin of coffee we could find, but this meant we were drinking poor quality coffee.  We now spend less on much better-quality coffee as we buy it when it is on 50% off and I buy a few of them at a time to last us until the next promotion.

When it comes to other office consumables like paper, toilet rolls, cleaning materials etc, we compare sites like Amazon, eBay etc to find the best price.  For example, 1 pack of A4 white paper can cost anywhere between £2 to £8 – over the space of the year this could be a sizeable saving.

Telephone Calls

Calls are essential for doing business but when did you last review your contract and rates.  Remember when renewing a contract to get at least 3 quotes – do not just go with the same supplier for ease.

If you are already paying for Office 365, then you get full access to Microsoft Teams, as a business we use Teams for internal calls as much as possible.  Why? because we already pay for it and if both parties are on Wi-Fi, then we have no call charges to worry about.  Meaning any contracted minutes on our mobiles are used for customer contact, which has allowed us to reduce the amount of data and minutes we are paying for.

Teams also allows you to call external customers for free (as part of your monthly subscription charge), so there is no need to pay for any of the other platforms that offer video conferencing.

Utilities

The biggest area of cost with utilities is if your contract lapses before switching to either a new supplier or signing a new contract with your current supplier.  This is because once your contract ends the supplier moves you onto their Standard Business Rates (this is usually their highest charges), so it pays to stay on top of your contracts.

As part of our commitment to Using Less Stuff, we are mindful of what and how much we use. When it comes to electricity and gas, there are lots of ways to reduce your consumption and thereby reduce your costs.  Here at CRC/ULS, we use ‘Turn me off’ stickers and all new starters are reminded to turn off unused equipment, either during the day or when they leave in the evening.  For example, at the end of the day, we turn off our computers and monitors fully, we do not leave them on standby as this still draws on energy (albeit very small) and we turn off all lights.  Our heating is on a timer so when the winter months kick in we have it programmed to come on a short while before we come into the office, to warm the place up and then it goes off automatically on a timer.  If we get cold during the day, we give it a quick 30mins to warm up again then turn it off again.  We appreciate in a large office this would not be possible. 

When we closed the office for the Covid Lockdown, we turned off and unplugged everything that was not vital.  This included the microwave, fridge, and the photocopier.  We also turned off our heating completely.  We are now back in the office part time so the equipment is back on apart from the heating as it is not needed yet (although we have come close a couple of times over the past few weeks courtesy of the great British summer).  Again, if you have your own onsite servers etc then again this might not be possible.  But larger organisations can still save on their energy consumption, by reviewing any automatic processes, such as heating on and off times.  This is the same with lighting, do you have lights on a timer, if so, do they go on and off at the right times. I often drive past offices when they are closed but they are still lit up like a Christmas tree.  Lighting can make up to 40% of your energy consumption, so lighting an empty building could be costing you more than you think.

Would you like some help reducing costs and/or consumption? We have over 10 years’ experience helping schools, businesses, and councils to do just this.

Let us know what type of things your business does to Use Less.


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