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From the blog

Coronavirus and your business

by Clare Watters

Sometimes it can take a change in environmental circumstances to action adjustments in organisations’ working practices. March 2020 has created this change, with the sweeping pandemic of Coronavirus forcing the hand of businesses both nationally and globally.

UK organisations are now facilitating remote working for their staff to prevent the spread of the virus. This has been launched with immediate effect, in order to continue day-to-day business delivery.

These practices have had an incidental positive environmental impact. The pandemic has already massively reduced air pollution in London by more than a third, as self-isolation measures keep motorists off the roads. In fact, air pollution levels have been judged to be ‘low’ at all 165 sites monitored by DEFRA.

So why not adopt these short-term sustainable travel planning measures into your long-term strategic business practices? Here are some Investors in the Environment (iiE) top tips for technologies to reduce your business travel:

  • A cloud-based server allows easy remote working and enables staff to work from home when it is not essential for them to be in the office.
  • Teleconference instead of booking face-to-face meetings. You can use Skype, or phone teleconference systems, but Zoom is also good. Zoom has the added benefit that, if you do not have the camera switched on, the system tells you who is speaking at any given time, which is useful during larger conferences where you might not recognise voices.
  • Microsoft Teams allows working on shared documents, to chat to each other (with or without camera) and to share documents on-screen while chatting.
  • You could run ‘virtual events’, ‘virtual audits’ and webinars so that attendees benefit from the team’s knowledge without having to commute to a central location.
  • There are acknowledged downsides to working from home, so how about setting aside ten minutes at 10am every day for catch-up sessions? This will help to avoid team members feeling isolated and will encourage regular collaboration and support.

There are many other technologies available that can minimise unnecessary travel and facilitate working remotely. Your IT team will be your most likely source of inspiration and will have the knowledge about what your business is already utilising.

Trialling these methods now will be essential to safeguard your team and minimise exposure to Coronavirus, however in the future, you may decide to maintain these strategies, because of the benefits of reduced travel time, cutting costs and your company’s carbon footprint.

iiE supports a multitude of organisations to strategically analyse their business and work smarter and more efficiently, including by reducing costs of utility bills and reducing wastage. Our iiE member businesses also work more broadly to ‘green’ their practices and increase employee engagement and satisfaction with initiatives such as greening procurement and tree planting days.

With 66% of people agreeing that they would be willing to make personal sacrifices for the climate, which will include their purchasing decisions, now is the time to plan ahead and put strategies in place to ensure your business is finding smarter and more efficient ways of working for the future too.

Consider making your travel planning part of a wider, more longer-term commitment to the environment.