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5 Ways To Drive A Greater Environmental Impact From Anywhere

5 Ways To Drive A Greater Environmental Impact From Anywhere

Companies can’t afford to leave the questions about hybrid work and sustainability unanswered – and everyone can be involved in making changes for the better.

The definition of “working successfully from anywhere” isn’t just about being more productive, even though that’s undoubtedly one of the greatest benefits.

It also goes beyond fostering collaboration, despite many organizations who have seen teamwork transformed by introducing more flexible policies.

The true definition also needs to encompass how – both as a company and as individuals – we are using hybrid work models to drive a more positive environmental impact.

When many of us began working remotely during the pandemic, for example, there were some obvious advantages in terms of time saved from not having to commute. Reducing the number of cars on the road and the volume of CO2 they emit was also great for the planet. The increased use of virtual tools also saved a ton of paper that otherwise have been printed to handle day-to-day business processes.

As researchers in the Harvard Business Review and others have pointed out, however, working remotely doesn’t always instantly translate into greater sustainability. Many office buildings might have been designed with energy efficiency in mind based on how long they are used, for instance. Working from home might mean consuming much more electricity than ever before.

Companies can’t afford to leave the questions about hybrid work and sustainability unanswered. A recent survey of younger Canadian workers found 45% want an employer with a strong environmental stance. This ties into having a greater sense of purpose: only 46% said they would stay with a company where the purpose wasn’t clear.

Going back to the way things were is obviously not an option. In fact, the move to hybrid work is really part of a larger shift where companies are realizing they can manage their business more effectively by operating a digital HQ. This means having the right technology platform in place to serve customers and support team members regardless of where you’re sitting.

A digital HQ also provides opportunities for all of us to consider behaviors and practices that will allow us to optimize our environmental impact, whether we’re in a boardroom or at the kitchen table:

1. Track How Your Impact May Be Changing

Many companies shifted to remote work out of sheer necessary during early lockdowns. Some of them might have had a sustainability strategy developed and under way, but most likely the notion that much of the team would be working from home had never been built into it.

As you determine what mix of remote and in-office work makes sense for your employees, make sure you have quality environmental data to inform your thinking. Net Zero Cloud, which makes it fast and easy to calculate your firm’s existing carbon footprint, is a great place to start. There are also many free apps for employees to do the same when they’re working outside the office.

2. Reassess The Right Time to Travel (Or Not)

Conferences and events are slowly coming back to life, which opens up lots of valuable chances for employees to reconnect and learn from their peers. That doesn’t mean they have to be constantly taking flights and staying in hotels, however.

Think about how you can be more intentional about which trips are necessary for an in-person interaction (like a conference where customers will be on site, for example). Others may be better suited to having employees sit in on a few sessions virtually.

The same will be true for bringing people in for training. Some hands-on tutorials may work better when people come in, but you can reduce your carbon footprint by offering at least some training online, or explore learning resources like Trailhead.

3. Open Avenues To Share Sustainability Tips And Best Practices

As awareness about the risks of climate change and other environmental challenges continues to rise, we all come across ideas about how to create a more sustainable planet. Much like the data companies collect and manage about their customers and operations, this information becomes more powerful when access becomes decentralized.

Make sure your Digital IQ includes mechanisms for the team to post, comment on or amplify the latest in sustainable practices. This could take the form of a dedicated Slack channel where coworkers educate each other about conserving energy while working from home. Others might provide guidance on minimizing waste both at home and when they come into the office.

4. Explore Hot Desking And Strategic Scheduling

If many employees are only coming into the office two or three times a week, do they all still need a dedicated cubicle or entire room? Companies are recognizing that while they may not want to do away with collective spaces for the team entirely, they can downsize in terms of the square footage they require.

Cloud-based platforms make it easy to log on from any device, which paves the way for hot-desking environments that offer the same working surface to a variety of people. Boardrooms can be converted into shared communal tables for an entire team, while corner offices might be turned into breakout rooms. Making sure everyone uses common tools to share scheduling information makes transitioning to a hybrid model more seamless.

5. Empower Employees To Champion Reuse And Waste Reduction

If you looked in the average litter bin of most corporate offices before the pandemic, you would have found them filled with discarded coffee cups and single-use plastics. Many of us have since saved a lot of money – and stopped contributing as much to landfills – by making more of our food at home.

This can be extended into the workplace. You don’t necessarily need to provide a full kitchen, but even a few basic appliances could make it easier for team members to continue their good habits when they work on site. For those who struggle to make their own meals at home, you could add another Slack channel to share everyone’s favourite WFH recipe ideas.

It may be true that the initial push towards supporting people to work successfully from anywhere was borne out of urgent necessity. However the need for a better environmental impact is just as urgent – and everyone can be involved in making changes for the better.

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