Collaboration Updated on: 9 July 2021

How remote collaboration tools can help boost sustainability in business

Highlights

At the beginning of the pandemic, many organizations transitioned to working from home wherever possible. While the initial suddenly remote shift was out of necessity, the popular desire to remain working from home, at least in a hybrid workplace, is by choice.

Staff appreciated the many benefits of working from home: no commute, flexible working hours, more time with family, and increased digitalization. The rapid uptake of collaborative technologies such as videoconferencing, screen sharing, cloud file storage, team chat channels and collaborative whiteboards tools have allowed teams to work together effectively.

At the same time, this shift has the potential to have a positive impact on sustainability. Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, with just under half coming from reductions in ground transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by 26% on average, found a report by nature.com.

With consumers, investors and employees more aware than ever about sustainability, focusing on ways your company can reduce your emissions is also a smart business decision.

So let’s take a look at how remote collaboration tools can help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

Individual savings

Collaboration tools like Conceptboard that enable individuals to work productively at home and stay connected to their colleagues allow individuals to work from home, a cafe, or anywhere they choose.

A 2021 report from the Carbon Trust found that working from home has a positive net effect on carbon emissions. The savings from avoiding commuting and office-related emissions far outweighed the emissions from home energy usage. On top of that, one study found that employees are less motivated to conserve energy at work because they have no financial incentive to do so. However, when they are paying the bills at home, people are most thoughtful about turning lights off and powering down at the end of the day.

Organizational sustainability

Remote collaboration tools allow companies to downsize offices, save money on travel expenses, operating costs and equipment purchases. By putting the right processes in place now, powered by the right technology, training and staff engagement, businesses can begin to reshape the purpose of the office and empower people to collaborate, interact, and create value regardless of location.

The shift to online doesn’t come free. As digital collaboration and e-commerce has grown, the carbon footprint from data centers has increased. Therefore, businesses need to think about sustainability through measures such as increasing energy efficiency in data centers.

Fashion giant Perry Ellis International goes the extra mile in order to make sustainable practices core to their everyday workflow. Using Conceptboard for collaboration, feedback consolidation and team presentations have resulted in shorter revision cycles, smoother hand-offs and quicker turnarounds, as well as a reduced carbon footprint and consumption of resources.  “We were surprised with how quickly our teams were able to seamlessly adopt Conceptboard into their workflow. Conceptboard makes the entire collaboration process fluid, saving us time and resources so we can be as environmentally sustainable as possible,” said Isaac Korn, Director of Innovation.

Business trips

Business trips not only cost the company a lot of money, but they also leave a big impact on the environment. Flights, taxis and hotels can all be avoided by making the switch to remote meetings. Business trips usually have a two-fold benefit, as both a practical exercise and a relationship-building opportunity.

But you can reduce the amount of business travel by investing in the right technology. Collaborative software that is straightforward to use and allows everyone to participate in real-time can give you the same benefits as face-to-face meetings. Take advantage of Conceptboard’s built-in video conferencing and switch on your camera during planning meetings. Live cursors also allow everyone to get on the same page and follow along easily. 

 

Online whiteboard conceptboard

 

Not only did Conceptboard empower creative agency Pretty Good Ideas to shift to virtual meetings with minimal friction, but there was also a marked improvement in the results as these sessions encouraged ‘doing’ rather than just ‘meeting’. They now recommend meeting clients virtually as much as possible, traveling only once every 6-8 weeks only for team-building purposes. 

Relationship building is also possible online through the use of icebreaker activities or break out water cooler chats where everyone has a chance to connect on a more personal level.

Conferences & workshops

Conferences are another big source of carbon emissions, especially if team members need to travel from across the globe to attend. And when you think about it, the format of one person speaking to many is easily replicated online. Online conferences allow more people to attend without cost restrictions, they also can be easily recorded so people can watch at a convenient time.

 

Online workshops take a little more effort, but can also be extremely effective with the right collaborative tools.

Siemens, for example, found that hosting remote workshops saved them money, time and was actually easier. “The teams were happy to have access to the training in a virtual space as they knew they couldn’t meet. It was so much easier to have this in Conceptboard, instead of having two teams sitting with Circuit and a camera and everyone had the poster printed out,” said Ms Woetzel, a digital consultant at Siemens.

Inspirometer can be used to gather feedback, and Conceptboard’s infinite canvas can host break-out groups, brainstorming activities and team bonding games. Read more about how to keep control in virtual workshops here.

Paper supplies

It was not that long ago that teams would print out copies of meeting minutes for each team member to take notes (your team may even still do this!). Not only is that a significant waste of resources, but it’s also an inefficient process. One study found that the average American used the equivalent of seven trees worth of paper goods each year. By reducing paper usage, not only are we saving trees, but every saved tree can remove up to 14.7 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air.

Conceptboard makes it easy for teams to add their updates, take notes, and assign tasks in one shared board. Plus, share boards easily via a link or export the board as a PDF or image.  No more printing and a much more streamlined workflow = win-win! On top of that, there can be no miscommunication around due dates or tasks as everything is stored in one shared space.

Sustainability at home

To further increase the positive effects that come from remote work, try to implement these sustainability tips into your home workplace:

  • Unplugging appliances when not in use
  • Switch to LED lights where possible
  • Turn the thermostat down one-two degrees, or heat just one room of the house.
  • Avoid single-use plastic and takeaway containers
  • Compost green waste
  • Use bikes or public transport for short trips

With recent surveys suggesting nearly 70% of U.S. workers will want to continue working remotely after the pandemic is over,  organizations need to redefine how they work and find a better model for their staff, their business, and the environment. This can be achieved by taking advantage of the incredibly powerful remote collaboration tools to ensure teams can continue to work together as efficiently as ever while reducing their carbon footprint. 

If you want to try out Conceptboard’s digital whiteboard for your team, sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

>>Find out more about how global fashion house Perry Ellis International uses Conceptboard to drive sustainability.

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