Businesses the world over have had some enforced downtime over the past few weeks to consider the future of their business: the way they’ve traditionally operated, the potential for pivoting their business model, and whether they’ll return to the status quo as they reopen.
This feels like the perfect time for a reset, an opportunity to reflect on our business objectives, tweak our business strategies and have a rethink of, let’s face it, the crisis before COVID-19 - global climate change. As a business, we’re feeling the responsibility to use this time to rethink our environmental footprint. The good news stories to come out of this global lockdown are decreased pollution levels, increased birdsong, and a new appreciation for the immediate world around us. We’d be crazy to let this opportunity for significant change to pass us by.
How a sustainable practice positively impacts the environment
Virtual Marketers has a remote working business model, so our people typically work from home or their favourite co-working office space, rather than in traditional offices. Businesses like ours have a natural fit with sustainable workplace practices.
Less commuting - we typically walk, bike, train and bus to ‘outside home’ work commitments and meetings. Otherwise we use e-scooters between city meetings and travel off-peak to reduce traffic congestion and hours spent idling in our cars.
Less hardware - we increasingly use cloud-based software for more of our project management and client interactions. We’ve also found that we need less space and hardware in our home offices that you typically find in a traditional office (desks, chairs, hard drives, monitors, filing cabinets and landline phones).
Printing is less - as a paperless, digital business, we use far less printing ink, paper and power - and encourage our clients to do the same. Because of this, we’re using our powers for good not just within our own company, but supporting others just starting their digitisation journey.
No postage and freight - we’re 95% postage free, exceptions being sending our teams and clients surprise gifts.
Virtual meetings - we tend to connect with our team and clients via video calls, removing the need for office space, power, air conditioning and the ever present commute to and from meetings.
Air travel - when we do need to travel, we offset our carbon emissions. We anticipate much less of this in the future!
How our sustainable practice could have a negative impact
We’re by no means perfect, and have been taking this time in lockdown to relook at some of current practices that could do with improvement
iPhones and Macbooks - our hardware of choice, but what impact does this company have on our planet? Our latest Macbook purchases have recycled aluminium which is a great start.
Vehicle usage - we need to be more mindful of our Uber and e-scooter usage to get to and from meetings. In our new world of slowing down and having the time for more exercise, this feels like a great way to incorporate exercise into our busy days by walking between meetings, or jumping a bus in bad weather.
Less demand more pods - we’re potentially robbing our local coffee culture of coffee sales and increasing environmental wastage by using Nespresso coffee pods, and similar products. I for one am guilty of this, and commit to buying more coffees in my reusable cup from local businesses.
Power and heating - during the winter we’re heating our homes, rather than sharing this across multiple people in a shared office space. We intend to be more conscious of simply heating the room we’re using, and taking advantage of our home spaces with more natural light and heat. If that’s the couch, so be it!
Air travel - a natural short term impact of COVID-19 will be reduced client air travel and fewer conferences to attend. In the future we’re keen to be smarter with our essential travel - can we combine visits with more clients, friends and family to maximise our travel rather than doing day travel?
Giving back to other businesses
Supporting local - we feel we have a responsibility in this post COVID-19 world as a local business to increasingly support other local businesses. Coffees at favourite cafes, meals at our neighbourhood restaurants, purchasing from locally owned and managed businesses rather than ‘easy online orders’ from Ali Baba.
Supporting our clients - as a company we’re in a great position to help our clients to tap the services and products of our talented client network. It’s such a great feeling to help a trusted business facilitate a sale or create a new partnership.
Tangible ways we’re committing to a more sustainable practice now
- We send reusable coffee cups to our team as a welcome gift,
- We drop things off to our clients and suppliers when we can, rather than using third party freight companies.