Remote-working – or ‘telecommuting’ – businesses represent some of the most convincing climate-friendly models for the future, and we’re not just saying that because we’re staunch remote workers ourselves.
The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that telecommuting saves anywhere from nine to fourteen billion kilowatt hours of energy each year. To provide perspective, that’s enough electricity to power the average UK home for the next 900 million days. Or, if things continue, the average UK apocalypse survival bunker.
Existential benefits aside, it’s also good for business. Remote working means cutting the costs associated with office space and commuting, and it attracts buyers. 73 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on products and services that are provided sustainably. With nearly half of B2B buyers now aged 25-34, it’s a demographic worth appealing to.
Here’s what you can do to reduce your organisation’s environmental impact.
Make it official
We recently became a B Corporation. To become certified, we legally amended our company policies to reflect our commitment to ethical business. The starting point for any climate action plan has to be fundamental enough to impact the entire organisation.
‘Making it official’ can mean anything from developing a climate action policy, updating your company’s purpose or appointing a climate action officer. Whatever you do, make sure the magnitude of the change reflects your commitment to sustainability. It’ll keep you and your organisation accountable later on.
Becoming a remote business doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing - and it can be brilliant for building a happy company culture, too. Giving employees the opportunity to work from home one day a week is a good place to start, and it will have an immediate impact on your carbon footprint. Just ensure that you have the essential tools before you send people home:
- A messaging program like Slack
- A video calling app, like RingCentral or Skype
- Project management software like Basecamp
With these, you can do everything you could in the office, and will eliminate emissions from a day’s commute.
Even as a remote business, you’ll expend some carbon. At Articulate, we work from home but have an in-person meeting every few months. That means planes, trains and automobiles and a dent in our sustainability. The solution? Carbon offsetting.
Organisations like Climate Care are the best route when it comes to calculating your footprint and investing in initiatives to offset carbon. We’ve become carbon neutral by planting trees, funding renewable energy and helping to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
Ditching in-house hardware for the cloud makes you more efficient and agile, but it also reduces the electricity your organisation uses.
A report from Microsoft found that the cloud – as opposed to a physical data centre – encouraged 93 percent more energy efficiency. If you’re not using the cloud, migrating your IT is a fantastic way to cut your energy use.
Spread the word
Encouraging employees to be environmentally-aware when working from home means removing as many hurdles to sustainable behaviour as possible. Creating a list of environmentally-friendly products is a great first step and it ensures that your staff have the knowledge they need to make sustainable decisions. Without an office, buying things like laptops, furniture, stationery et al. is in your staff’s hands. Help them make smart choices.
Consider becoming a B Corp
Becoming a B Corporation is no easy feat, but the process is a fantastic way to make sustainable changes at work. Almost everything on this list is part of the B Corp journey, but the work doesn’t stop once you’re certified.
B Corps frequently work together to go even further in their commitment to sustainability, most recently launching a collective climate action strategy. Joining an international community of businesses dedicated to ethical business may be the single most effective step when it comes to motivating – and sustaining – change.
Get started today
Truly effective climate action plans – remote or otherwise – have one thing in common: They’re integrated into the purpose and mission of the business.
If you are part of a remote-working business, you’ve got a head start. Make the most of it and tell the world that climate change informs the way you work. Remote businesses will inherit the earth. Or what’s left of it.
See also: working from home
Related service: Company culture