How Can Technology Pave the Way for Eco-friendly Business?
Every year, we break new records for alarming milestones. In 2020, we saw what could be the hottest ambient temperature ever recorded on Earth, as Death Valley reached 55.4°C in August — exposure to this kind of heat can kill a person in minutes.
And, for the first time in recorded history, a location within the arctic circle hit a temperature above 100° Fahrenheit.
But it’s not just our atmosphere that’s suffering.
The oceans are in trouble too. Coral reefs are dying, and oceanic ecosystems are collapsing as sea temperatures rise. There is no hiding from the climate menace that we’re facing, and the public is taking notice.
Reports indicate that consumers are becoming ever-more conscious of their environmental impact.
96% of people believe that their actions can make a difference when battling climate change, which explains why nine out of every 10 people are interested in working with sustainable businesses.
Your consumer market wants you to be more environmentally responsible, and your planet needs you to be more environmentally responsible as well.
The question is: how can your business become more eco-friendly? The simple answers lie in solutions like low-emissions light bulbs, reducing the heating, introducing car-pooling, cutting business flights and encouraging the use of public transport where possible.
But these are all small-scale activities, and the climate disaster we face is a big problem. Change needs to be groundbreaking, so how do you make a groundbreaking change?
Making Change with Technology
One of the most pivotal issues concerning climate change is waste. We’re almost addicted to overuse. We live in a world of excess, where necessities live side-by-side with resources that serve very little purpose.
In the workplace, this manifests as unused real estate.
Business real estate is an environmental killer. Most buildings need a high carbon output to operate. Offices require heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. They require electricity for lights and power.
The more real estate you have, the greater your environmental impact.
But what if you could change the amount of real estate you own, reduce your office floorspace and cut the amount of energy you need to operate?
Hotdesking is a corporate buzzword used to describe flexible desk operation. It’s all about shared working areas that allow people to book into desks when they need them and leave them free for colleagues when they don’t.
This practice contrasts with having personally assigned desks that nobody else can use. The concept of hotdesking exists to fix a problem with unused desk spaces, as businesses are paying through the nose for desk space they don’t need.
The problem currently costs UK businesses around £10b per annum in unnecessary real estate.
While hotdesking was largely created as a financial solution to optimise workspaces so that businesses weren’t wasting money, the byproduct of this innovation is a reduction in unnecessary office space, which also means a reduction in the carbon-emitting resources required to run them.
Deployment of hotdesking within the workplace can, in some cases, dramatically reduce the need for desk areas — eliminating unnecessary real estate and reducing your carbon footprint.
Can Host Desking Working in Our COVID World?
Hot desking is a powerful tool in the battle against climate change, but current events have seen the practice lose favour. Concerns about sharing desks are understandable in the age of COVID-19, but through dynamic return to office plans, you can prevent risks associated with hotdesking and COVID.
Hotdesking might require more attention to health and safety during the pandemic, but it’s certainly possible.
Yet this concept poses an important question: if reduced real estate is going to save the environment, why not just cut all desks and go totally remote?
The benefit of hotdesking lies in space optimisation, using that which is needed and getting rid of that which is not. This differs from going remote in the sense that home-working offices aren’t necessarily more environmentally-friendly than business offices.
There are numerous factors at play here, but a quick way to think about it is to imagine you’ve got ten workers in an office space and ten workers all working from home.
The amount of energy required to sustain an office for ten people is going to be less than the amount of energy required to sustain offices in ten homes.
This is particularly true if you use technology to empower the way you collect your energy. Energy providers are now starting to offer sustainable packages, whereby the energy you power your business with is collected through sustainable sources like solar power and wind farms.
This comes at a premium. You’ll be paying extra for renewable energy because it costs more to produce. But this means your office space becomes incredibly effective at reducing your business’s carbon footprint, much more so than having workers do their jobs from home.
There is also evidence to suggest that customers will pay more for services if they know they’re coming from sustainable sources.
If your consumer-base is environmentally-minded, it’s possible to offset your renewable energy costs by marketing your sustainability and increasing service/product rates.
The Difference of Going Paperless
But climate-saving technology does not have to be as high profile as hotdesking or renewable energy. There’s a very simple way to curb much of your carbon footprint, and it’s all about going paperless.
Paper production is an environmental nightmare. It accounts for 9% of the world’s total carbon emissions from manufacturing, making it one of the single biggest causes of climate change.
At the same time, paper production results in massive deforestation, which prevents carbon from being absorbed as effectively, leaving more in our atmosphere.
Paper is something you can easily eradicate from the workplace. Paperless technology is all around us, from fax to invoicing, and there are very few documents that you need to keep paper copies of anymore.
Introducing paperless practices across an entire company can make a huge environmental impact. The average UK employee prints around 8,000-10,000 pages a year — that’s just about an entire tree.
In even just a small company, going paperless can save hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper annually.
The paperless office is easy to achieve in 2020. Cloud tech and online document sharing are widely available and can be used in a range of business structures.
With optimised real estate, sustainable energy provision and paperless working practices, your business is going to be well on the way to becoming a carbon-neutral company.
If climate change is something that matters to you, the adoption of new technology can make all the difference.