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Cutting carbon emissions in a hybrid world

By Amanda Powell-Smith

We published our Climate Positive Plan in January 2020. It was our response to the climate emergency and how we, as a small business, could make the biggest positive impact for people and planet.

Our commitments felt bold and – if we’re really honest – we weren’t quite sure how we were actually going to deliver them all. But we knew it was the right thing to do.

Two years on, we have successfully achieved a major milestone of ensuring that all our suppliers have committed to being net zero before 2050, with the majority by 2030. It’s been a fascinating mixture of tracking, conversation, support and, when required, ending relationships. We will report fully in our impact report in a couple of months’ time.

Now we are counting down to our second major target of ensuring that, by April 2023 all our clients have publicly committed to cut their carbon emissions. We are also having to respond to the reality that the pandemic, home working and subsequent shift to hybrid working has increased our own carbon footprint.

This new balance of office and home working raises interesting questions about how best we can help our team to cut their carbon emissions while recognising that everyone’s situation is different, with big variations in their ability to make changes. An example of this is that while 80 percent of the team have renewable energy suppliers at home, the other 20 percent are not able to switch suppliers because they are controlled by landlords.

It is also a sensitive balance between work and home life. Yes, we want to be a progressive employer, but that doesn’t mean we can dictate how people behave in their own space and time.

Consultation and discussion are key. Following some pretty passionate discussion, we agreed last year that the company would become plant-based. Everyone understood and supported the reasons why all the food and drink ordered and paid for by the company is plant-based, but there is no judgement about what we buy ourselves.

Not only has this cut our company footprint, the process of making plant-based alternatives available has also led to a wider and unforeseen benefit with several members of the team now actively choosing to avoid meat, fish and dairy for many of their meals.

As we head into the new financial year, this balance of information and support is more important than ever. We are measuring our carbon emissions from home working and have set a new target to give colleagues access to an independent advisor who can provide confidential information on cutting energy use in their home. And we are going to consult on reinstating and stocking our Library of Things that members of the team can share, use and return as needed.

The battle to address the climate crisis is constantly evolving and we move forward with the same ambition that we started our plan – to make the biggest impact we can as a small business, working in partnership with our clients, suppliers and community.

Read our Climate Positive Plan here.