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ISO14001, Can we change our mind please?

We have always been somewhat sceptical about ISO14001 certification, as a medium sized business we like many others viewed it as a layer of cost to our overhead for a procedure certification which we already follow diligently.

When we were asked two years ago to talk at the Sheppard Robson environmental week, we had just that viewpoint. We talked through the possible negative connotations of insisting that projects should only use companies that are ISO14001 certified, and expressed concern that small craft base workshops were being lost because they don't tick the box, despite following the procedures that these standards set out… so, the question is, can we change our mind?

@Workbench we set ourselves a few goals at the start of every year, goals that we aim to achieve by the end of the year. 2019 was to move office and create our showroom, and we love our new home at 3 Sutton Lane! At the start of 2020 we decided to bite the bullet and achieve ISO14001. Going through the process of 14001 certification is creating benefits we couldn’t have imagined, and our goal that certification enables smaller workshops to still serve the market through us has been achieved.

We are a medium size business, and we pack a big punch for our size. Workbench has always followed the principals of ISO14001 and 9001 standards, but it soon became evident it was not documented. This was the first thing that we changed, and it was the biggest eye opener, the whole company now knows our supply chain, what they can offer, and our supply chain also know us. Individually the team at Workbench knew certain suppliers very well, but as a team, corporately, we actually knew far less because it was not recorded, just ‘retained in brain’. A simple questionnaire to our suppliers generated an astonishing amount of hitherto unknown information to both parties. We are all now far more collaborative in establishing environmental initiatives, utilising this new knowledge.

We achieved ISO14001 certification in December 2020, but the prize is much bigger, a better understanding of our suppliers, and how informed design processes and material choices can offer environmentally sustainable solutions, solutions that help our clients to achieve their own environmental targets. The techniques learned have also enabled us to modify and streamline our own admin systems, and help our suppliers to look at ways to meet the ISO14001 standard, from efficient material use and workshop processes to smart logistics. Most importantly to achieve the best solution within a given set of parameters, supplying products that are built to stand the test of time with an array of solutions for recycle or reuse when they eventually reach end of life.

We were guided by the brilliant mentor Chis Passmore at 2SB Management Systems, who helped us navigate the more intense parts of the standard and of course we are happy to chat to anyone who would like to know more about the process, but in the meantime WOOHOO @Workbench is ISO14001 certified and ready for a brilliant 2021!


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