03 May Sustainability is beneficial for the environment AND good for business
Sustainability has become a major focus for Irish businesses in recent years, with more and more companies adopting environmentally-friendly approaches and procedures. However, it’s not just about implementing a recycling programme; it’s about being smart when it comes to business processes, workstyles and office spaces.
Embracing digital workflows
One area that can be daunting for businesses, but is advantageous in terms of sustainability, is workflow. Switching from paper-based to digital has been found to minimise environmental impact as well as wastage within an organisation.
Furthermore, digital workflows and processes are known to boost employee efficiency and productivity, as they help to streamline document management processes, and are considered to be more cost-effective.
From a security perspective, implementing a digital approach to document management helps to prevent misplacement and mismanagement of documents containing critical or confidential information. It also helps to ensure the safe storage and easy access of such documents which is particularly important considering the imminent introduction of GDPR legislation.
What businesses need to remember is to tailor their strategy to meet the individual requirements of their organisation, introducing bespoke solutions and implementing the right infrastructure for their company and industry.
Enabling mobile workstyles
New technologies including video conferencing and interactive whiteboards are also valuable in terms of sustainability. In fact, a recent Ricoh Ireland survey involving IT decision-makers found that 21% of respondents see unified communications as good for the environment.
With more and more employees working across various locations and different time zones, these systems are not only beneficial in terms of enabling productivity and encouraging real-time collaboration but also in relation to reducing the impact of travel on the planet, be that the daily commute or international meetings.
Gary Hopwood, Managing Director, Ricoh Ireland, explains: “Unified communications services help to minimise the carbon footprint by reducing the time that employees spend on the road and in the air travelling to meetings. All of them result in lower CO2 emissions, as well as reduced travel costs.
“Staff time is another factor. For example, if you are familiar with the “red eye” trip to London, back and forth in a day, employees can become fatigued. This can have a significant impact on productivity and, of equal importance, their work life balance. It’s vital that team members can effectively communicate, and the reliance on these types of technology will only increase as companies become increasingly global and the ability to collaborate efficiently becomes essential.”
Employing space effectively
Often overlooked by businesses, the effective use and management of office space can lead to major savings for organisations in terms of costs and time, which can also impact on staff productivity levels.
Gary says: “Sustainability is not just about recycling, it can also mean reusing products or equipment, and being more economical when it comes to the use of space. For example, meeting room technology boosts the sustainability of a business because it’s about managing space in a way where you’re making full use of what you have.
“By ensuring 100% capacity use of meeting rooms, companies can also reduce lighting and heating use. This, coupled with better meeting room management, prevents wastage. Considering the shortage of retail and commercial properties, particularly in Dublin, this has never been more important.”
Part of the issue appears to be finding the right approach and knowing how to achieve more eco-friendly business processes. Moreover, there is the added requirement to comply with regulations.
“I think most people understand what they need to do,” explains Gary. “The challenge for businesses is to understand how they can do it and how they can make changes to their businesses in order to avail of the benefits of being a sustainable, responsible business.
“It’s about educating leaders to see how they can practically make changes and reap the rewards including cost savings, talent retention and employee engagement. You’ve also got to measure it or you won’t achieve it. For instance, if you want to reduce your CO2 emissions by even the smallest amount, you have to understand where you currently are, set a realistic target and start recording your results.”
While Irish businesses are taking steps in the right direction to be more sustainable and responsible, there is still progress to be made in terms of the education of leaders in respect of the benefits of this way of working and how to put it into practice.
Ricoh Ireland, which has received the Business Working Responsibly Mark twice, works with businesses to make them more sustainable. It offers a range of solutions including unified communication systems, document management services and meeting room technology. To find out more, visit the Ricoh Ireland website or contact the team today.