How workplace sustainability trends will shape 2020

Sustainability in the workplace has moved up the agenda rapidly over the last 12 months. Environmental consciousness is at an all-time high, with activists like Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion protestors raising awareness. 

Many businesses have sustainability policies which generally focus on energy and resource use in the workplace. But employees and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding that businesses do more than switching to renewables or installing more recycling points in the office. More radical measures are being called for, which are already changing how the modern workplace functions.  

Here we explore some of the trends that could shape 2020. 

5 workplace sustainability trends 

1. Setting carbon neutral targets 

2019 has been the year that the public has started asking government, organisations and businesses about carbon neutral targets. Until now, not many companies felt it necessary to detail what they would do to achieve zero carbon by 2030, 2040 or 2050. But with customers and employees increasingly asking this question, more companies are setting a target and publishing their strategy to achieve it. 

We’re witnessing this first-hand as ‘cutting emissions’ has become one of the drivers for cloud migration. In fact, we worked with The Carbon Trust – the organisation that supports private and public sector entities reduce their carbon footprint – on a cloud to cloud migration project. This project supported The Carbon Trust’s commitment to reducing the need for business travel and cutting emissions from managing its own servers. You can read more about this project here >>> 

2. Sustainable business travel  

Many organisations and business have radically reduced their CO2 footprint by analysing business travel and making cuts via travel avoidance, travel alternatives and demand management. Having made the major emission reductions (and financial savings) what can businesses do to embed sustainable business travel?  

Communicating your sustainable travel policies, not only to employees but also external stakeholders such as clients, can increase adoption and acceptance. It may even help differentiate your business positively in the eyes of prospective clients or partners.  

Having the right technology solutions also supports your sustainability policies.  A face-to-face meeting with a client can often be replaced with a Skype For Business video call. Teleconferencing can also remove the need to travel for group meetings. 

3. More remote working 

Technology is making it possible for employees to reduce their own personal carbon footprint by working from home or local hubs like coworking spaces. Collaboration and productivity solutions, such as SharePoint and Office 365, have created an environment that support remote and flexible working.  

As well as reducing the number of car journeys by employees commuting to work, remote working also has other benefits for the employer. There are productivity gains to be had. Research has shown that telecommuters are more productive than office-based staff working on average 16.8 more days every year than those who work in the office.  

With more staff working remotely your business may also be able to reduce office energy use further, or even move to smaller premises. Driving efficiencies within the business as well as saving valuable resources. 

Remote working policies can also help you attract high quality talent to your business. There’s scope to recruit nationally and internationally, as well as offering more local employees an attractive incentive to work for your company.

4. Sustainable partnerships and collaboration 

Businesses are realising that they can’t hit sustainability targets without support and collaboration from other partiesThey will need to develop new models of partnership and engagement to ensure that they operate in the right environment to achieve net zero carbon targets and other goals. 

Collaborations with suppliers, industry bodies and regulators can help address the challenges and issues that fall outside of a company’s operations, working towards a common self-interest of becoming sustainable across different parts of the value chain. 

5. Sustainability is disrupting many markets 

In recent years we’ve seen many new challengers causing disruption in existing markets, by developing more sustainable business models, products and services. These are often technology companies that are diversifying and exploring ways to make incumbent services more efficient. Or start-ups that are using new technologies to transform traditional models.  

No industry is exempt and therefore all businesses need to ensure they have the agility to react to changes; and innovate themselves. Cloud migration can help your business become more sustainable and agile. 

To learn more about how we supported The Carbon Trust in its cloud-to-cloud migration from Microsoft BPOS (and an on-premise Exchange Server) to Office 365, please read our case study here. 

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