Nov 23, 2021

Our Sustainability Journey

Bonilee Perry
Design Innovation Lead

Over the past few years, we’ve watched sustainable design go from a nice-to-have, to a necessity. It’s not just industries rushing to adopt eco-conscious business models, either. Sustainability has entered the global conversation with the U.N. calling a “code red for humanity,” while corporations across all industries plan and implement sustainable practices. But make no mistake, sustainability is neither a buzzword, nor a quick fix. At One Workplace, we experienced both truths early on.

Over the years, we’ve made a great deal of progress. But getting our sustainability efforts where they are today, took an ongoing effort from a committed team. Our approach to sustainability never began with metrics or initiatives. It started with people, focusing on internal teams, empowering and educating individuals to help us adopt sustainable practices. It was, and continues to be, a people-first approach to sustainability.

Beyond best practices and policies (and we’ve developed several), we wanted to start at square one and rethink everything because we knew solving such a complex problem would take a different approach. To begin, we formed a team to develop a company-wide Environmental Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Governance (ESG) strategy. Our ESG team is charged with creating a framework to direct our actions and benchmark our successes. Going beyond the conventional idea of sustainability, multiple action groups are addressing key issues and developing policies and action plans, ranging from DEI in the workplace to how we manage furniture waste. Most importantly, as an all-inclusive call to action, this initiative invites everyone in the One Workplace enterprise who is passionate about sustainability to participate.

This people-first initiative has generated new ideas and programs. And it is supported by the creation of a new brand, Heirloom Design, the brainchild of One Workplace VP Dave Bryant and Uhuru Design founders Judd Rosengart and Jason Horvath. Heirloom Design is the first business of its kind. It uses the power of community as an agent for change by inviting makers, dealers and businesses committed to sustainable practices to create
a new circular economy for office furniture that reduces landfill waste and makes sustainability achievable.

Initiatives like Heirloom and the excitement and collective participation we feel from the top levels of the company on down, have reinforced what we’ve believed all along: sustainability is a human issue. And it’s best solved when we try to solve the enormous challenges we face starting with people and community impact.

While we admit we still have a long way to go, our people have built a system of accountability that hopefully will have a ripple effect across our partners, our customers, our industry, and the planet.