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Rethink two work practices to respect the earth

Type in italics is from reports of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
1. Marketing
Those of us in marketing are the wonderful folks who send calendars and address return labels to your mail box, stuff display racks with brochures and give away premium items.

Within an organization, it is important to identify the departments or functions that will act as change initiators, implementers, and resistors. Survey respondents identify accounting, finance, and marketing as often less supportive of program implementation than other departments.

The things we print—If we need to print messages and information, can we edit the copy, reduce the graphics and color to use less paper and altogether convey a more socially responsible message? As more people have Internet access, they search for information on the Web. What ranks high in search? Well written content. People are impatient so they don’t want to struggle through pdfs and graphics. They want the information in the first several paragraphs.

The premiums we give away—Just last week I handed out pens, magnetic clips and pads of sticky notes. Recently I’ve read we should be using ink refills rather than so many plastic pens. Distributing one of those three premiums would have been a step toward being socially responsible.

2. Telecommuting
We try to compartmentalize our lives into 8+ hours in the office as work time and the rest is personal time.

In ‘Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World’ (2009), Bob Johansen writes about the skill of dilemma flipping: ability to turn dilemmas—which, unlike problems, cannot be solved—into advantages and opportunities. “..a dilemma: the balance of work and private life is impossible to achieve, at least in my experience. This is not a problem that can be solved. Rather, the intersection of the two is a territory that can only be navigated with assistance and intelligent choices.”

In the opening pages of ‘Work Naked: Eight Essential Principles for Peak Performance in the Virtual Workplace’ (2001) Cynthia Froggatt writes, “We’ve never fully made the transition from manual labor to knowledge-based working….we have created a complex system of visual cues to signify that (or give the impression that) someone is working. ‘The office’ is a stage where people ‘perform their work’ for others to SEE.”

Buildings account for 40 percent of global energy demand and nearly 37 percent of total CO2 emissions.

We start up our cars and drive through terrible weather to get to the office when we could get just as much work done (and often more) at home. We persist in assigning devoted space in office buildings to workers and demand they be at their desks 8 to 5.

Salient points
While the specific impetus for each company varies, three overarching drivers emerged from the survey: cost savings, social responsibility, and reputation. These drivers are linked by a common desire to ensure the long-term success of the organization. It should be noted, though, that as a company fulfills its goals in these areas and gains knowledge of the issue, the motivations then shift toward leveraging climate-related market changes for competitive advantage.

In sum, climate considerations are already altering the business environment in ways that are real and yet still fluid. The rules of the game are changing and companies ignore these changes at their peril.

Sustainable climate strategies cannot be an add-on to business as usual; they must be integrated with a company’s core business activities.

Pew Center reports
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Getting Ahead of the Curve: Corporate Strategies That Address Climate Change, October 2006
Adapting to Climate Change: A Business Approach, April 2008


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