As we near our 40th Earth Day on April 22, it’s a perfect time to look at how technology can help businesses be as green as possible.
The challenges addressed by Earth Day have evolved since its first observance in 1970, and regardless of your position on the issue of human-caused-global-warming, there are good reasons for thinking green in business. Like keeping the air cleaner, using less fuel, and lowering costs.
Reducing the amount of travel by people in your company is one way to address all three of those. It could be telework or remote work, so your employees commute less, or videoconferencing and collaboration to eliminate the need to hop on planes or drive to get to meetings.
Despite the public image value of doing green things, the bottom line is that your employees need to do their jobs even while they’re saving the environment. Honestly, you can’t sacrifice productivity for the sake of environmental purity. That’s where technology comes in, particularly solutions that can reinvent the way companies do business, such as mobile integration, unified communications (UC), and wireless access.
Technology has made it possible for most of us to work from virtually anywhere. With mobile integration, for instance, employees’ mobile devices become a true extension of the enterprise network, giving them all of the advantages of that network. They get single-number access, so they don’t miss calls on their office phone while they’re working from home. They can do everything on the mobile phone they can on the deskphone. No one knows whether they’re in the office or at home or on the road, and it doesn’t matter, because they can still do all the work they need.
Add UC into the mix, and it opens up even more potential for productivity anywhere and anytime. With presence, employees wherever they are can be aware of the availability of all their associates, and can reach them via IM, a phone call, a bridge to a conference call, or a quick online collaboration. Now it isn’t just about communication, but finding ways to work together even if you are out of the office.
So by cutting your employees’ commutes, at least some of the time, you reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Those are good green benefits, but what about cost savings? Well, if employees waste less time in travel, they are more productive. If you reduce the number of employees at the main office through telework, you can also reduce the equipment needed there (like deskphones and desktop computers) as well as space needs and lighting. Replace some meetings with videoconferencing or web collaboration and that eliminates travel costs for the people involved in those meetings.
Going green is good, as long as productivity and efficiency come with it. These don’t have to be conflicting strategies. Sure, I too want to save the environment, and do my part by being a member of a Community Supported Agriculture co-op (For more information, go to www.localharvest.org), but I need to conduct my business too. With new technologies you can be an efficient company and a good corporate citizen at the same time.