Office Signage

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What It Is

“Office signage” refers to posted signs around the office. The signs may address employees, clients, or both. For example, a sign saying, “Please recycle” addresses anyone standing by the garbage cans. However, a sign saying, “Employees must wash hands” speaks only to staff members.

“Office signage” can also refer to promotional signs that publicize the business. These signs may tout the business (e.g., “Acme: It’s the greenest game in town!”) or just say the business’ name.

 

Why It Matters

A growing number of customers and employees want businesses to go green. According to MIT Sloan Management Review‘s survey of 3,000 businesses, “sustainability credentials are having an increasing influence” on employment seekers,” and “customers [are] a powerful force in shaping the new business landscape.”[1]

Office signage quickly and inexpensively communicates a business’ commitment to going green. The signs show customers and employees that the business values sustainability, which may attract repeat business and new business, as well as new hires.

Most importantly, signage reminds people to act more sustainably. A study at Florida State University found that employees recycled 54% more after the researchers posted recycling signs in the office.[2]

 

Getting Started

  • Step One: Consider what signs you can use and where to post them.
  • Step Two: Find ready-made signs or design your own.

 

Step One

Consider where your organization needs signs most. Do people at your business often toss recyclable products into the trash? Or perhaps employees forget to flip the light switch when leaving the room? Think about the spots around your workplace where employees and customers seem to need gentle reminders. A sign promoting water conservation will have more influence when posted near a sink, water fountain, etc. It will have less influence when posted far away from a water source.[3]

For instance, Duke University posts clever signs above light switches in its dormitories, encouraging students to “join the dark side” by turning the lights off when they leave. UNC- Chapel Hill connects sustainability with wellness, posting signs that show the caloric benefits of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Signs like these can help remind and encourage people to conserve.

 

Step Two

Next, decide whether you want to look for signs or design your own.

You can find free signs online on a number of sites, such as Sustainability at Work. Simply print and post. If you would rather purchase ready-made signs, check out ComplianceSigns.com.

You can also create your own signs, using the websites above for inspiration. When creating your own signs, keep the following tips in mind:

Create high contrast. Signage that uses both dark and light colors grab viewers’ attention. However, too much color can distract from the message. The pictures below exemplify effective high contrast. If you’re trying to save money on printing, please note that you can achieve striking contrast with just black and white.

Photo by Vark1. Retrieved from flickr.com. Available under Creative Commons License.

Photo by rosipaw. Retrieved from flickr.com. Available under Creative Commons License.

Photo by DistortedSmile. Retrieved from flickr.com. Available under Creative Commons License.

Leave white space. Make sure the sign delivers a short, clear message. People ignore text-heavy signs. 

Use proper spelling and grammar. It may sound obvious, but double check spelling and grammar before posting a sign. Mixing up words like “your” and “you’re” might take away from the sign’s impact.

Write with positive words. People respond better to positive messages. For instance, “Please turn off the lights” proves more effective than “Don’t leave the lights on.”

 

Going Further

Signage can encourage going green and being green too. When printing signs from a computer, use recycled paper. If you’re in the market for a more durable sign, like a promotional sign for your business, purchase one made with eco-friendly products. For a fee, Priority Graphics and Impact! Signs offer custom green signage.

You can find information on sustainable signage materials and manufacturing in The Green Resource Guide.

 

Resources for More Information

 


[1] MIT, Sloan Management Review, and The Boston Consulting Group, Sustainability: The “Embracers” Seize Advantage (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011): 17. Available at: http://c0426007.cdn2.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/MIT-SMR-BCG-sustainability-the-embracers-seize-advantage-2011.pdf

[2] John Austin, David Hatfield, Angelica Grindle, et. al., “Increasing Recycling in Office Environments: The Effects of Specific, Informative Cues,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis 26, no. 2 (Summer 1993): 247. Available in full at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297743/pdf/jaba00012-0109.pdf

[3] John Austin, David Hatfield, Angelica Grindle, et. al., “Increasing Recycling in Office Environments: The Effects of Specific, Informative Cues,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis 26, no. 2 (Summer 1993): 247. Available in full at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297743/pdf/jaba00012-0109.pdf

 

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