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Disruptive Software That Fights Climate Change

Video conferencing and web collaboration software is changing how companies operate their business while lowering their carbon footprint. Having employees working from home will lower your real estate and operational costs, increase worker productivity, and improve employee satisfaction while reducing pollution from commuting to work. A classic win/win, a win for your business and a win for the planet.

Industries Change Fast, Businesses Must Adapt

On the 11th of June 2014, London grounded to a standstill. The transport application Uber shocked the taxi business into paralysis. Black cab drivers across London protested, blockading roads to prevent the Uber application from sweeping its way into a monopoly.

But it was too late. Uber had already redefined the transport market across cities globally.

Uber is an example of disruptive technology, which is defined as an innovation creating a new market/value network that outcompetes existing operations. Uber provided an alternative to the traditional cab industry and stormed its way towards international success.

In the same way, remote work software has become a leading green disruptive technology, drastically changing the way we run our business and work together.

In this article, we’ll take the concept of green disruptive technology and survey the business landscape for forthcoming industry shakers. We consider how sustainable technology shapes business and promotes sustainability.

Considering the top noted threats to our economy are environmental, it begs the question, which businesses will prosper in the predicted environmental turbulence of our future?

Why businesses need to support a green revolution

The 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report identifies extreme weather, climate action failure, biodiversity loss, and infectious diseases as top risks in terms of both likelihood and impact.

Today, businesses have quailed in the wake of nature’s wrath. The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the global economy into the worst recession since World War II – with a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020.

The pandemic has shown us how unprepared we are, exposing nature as the puppet master dictating the wellbeing of society and the health of our economy.

The top risks reported by the World Economic Forum are all related to our environment and a consequence of unsustainable economic activity. Therefore, if we don’t transition towards more sustainable business and learn how to work with nature, it is widely predicted that the foundations of our economy will crumble at a greater rate than seen during the pandemic.

For instance, the U.S. is expected to see a 10.5% decline in GDP per capita due to climate change and is set to lose $83 billion by 2050 from biodiversity loss.

These critical risks should prompt us to transform our business-as-usual tactics into practices that are environmentally sound and socially responsible.

The Rise of Remote-Based Work

COVID-19 comes as a watershed moment. The adaptations we’ve made may give our economy the resilience needed to reduce the environmental threats of our future. One such change has been the rise of remote-based work.

With the economy at the mercy of COVID-19, remote work has been a saving grace, allowing many employees across the globe to maintain social distancing rules while also being able to churn out productive work, helping the economy tick over.

Across the globe, working from home and remote locations has grown by 159% since 2005. The pandemic has accelerated this growing trend. As such, a Global Workplace Analytics report estimates that there will be a 25-30% increase in the number of work-from-home employees by the end of 2021.

By helping society navigate pandemic risk, we find ourselves thrust into a real-life remote-work experiment. And so we can investigate whether remote work will help businesses prosper under the environmental risks of our future.

What Is Remote Work Software?

Remote work software is a tool that supports teams who aren’t co-located.

For instance, we’re talking about online communication applications (e.g. Slack), video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom), project management tools (e.g. Basecamp) and business process management software (e.g. Process Street).

Remote work software breaks down geographical barriers and provides a single online location that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, for team-wide coordination and collaboration.

Without remote work software, today’s economic narrative would be very bleak indeed. As we’ve witnessed, the pandemic has spurred on a shift to working remotely. As such, predictions given by Fast Company state that remote work software, like mobile work tools and virtual reality, will become the preferred form of doing business in the future.

In this sense, remote work software is changing working life on a day-to-day level and we can therefore categorize it as a disruptive technology. But is this only under conditions of a global pandemic? Or is remote work and its supporting software here to stay?

Coming back to the environmental threats to our economy, these are the challenges and changes that businesses need to expect, plan and adapt for. For remote work to remain as a disrupter, it has to continue to provide similar business advantages that change the status quo.

Remote Work Software Is Sustainable Technology

Governments, business leaders, and consultants across the globe are sitting up and taking action to address our environmental crisis. For instance, the Biden Harris transition team identified climate change as a top priority. In addition, the EU Gothenburg’s Green Week conference, October 2020, stated that cities across the EU will support innovative and green tech business endeavors.

Once more, consumer needs are changing. A survey by Accenture indicated that 72% of consumers choose to purchase eco-friendly products, with 82% stating they’re expecting to make more environmentally friendly purchases in the next 5 years. Exemplifying this shift, a poll of 1.2 million people across 50 counties found 81% of respondents believed climate change was a global emergency.

Under these conditions remote work software, as a green technology, will be favored. But how exactly is remote-work software green technology? And how can it help mitigate the environmental risks of our future?

Remote Work Software Reduces GHG Emissions

Studies indicate that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) were down by 17% in early April 2020. Europe is expected to emit 388.8 million tons less of carbon dioxide than it did before COVID-19. Air pollution in the UK halved on the first day of lockdown – results that were reflected in cities across the globe such as New York.

The continuation of remote work will help maintain these reduced GHG emissions, by targeting work-related travel, which accounts for over one-third (37%) of total CO2 emissions from passenger transport in the UK.

Once more, a Sun Microsystems report indicates that energy consumption in the office is nearly twice as high as energy consumption at home.

To address climate change and extreme weather risk, global emissions need to be cut by 7.6% every year for the next decade. By cutting emissions, you can see how remote work and other sustainable technology will be favored by policymakers and governments across the globe, as the fight against climate change continues.

Remote Work Software Helps Conserve Biodiversity

Disposable coffee cups, plastic straws, throwaway dish ware, and excessive food packaging – these are the waste products of a fast-paced modern life built on convenience. Do individuals use these disposable waste items at home?

As pointed out by the British registered charity WRAP, staff working from home are more likely to make their lunches and breakfasts than to grab an on-the-go option in expendable packaging.

Once more, online work eliminates the disposal of 246 trillion sheets of paper every year.

Excessive waste harms biodiversity both directly (e.g. the consumption of microplastics by marine wildlife) and indirectly (landfill sites provide ideal conditions for methane-producing bacteria).

In addition to reducing waste, eliminating the need for office space will free up land for environmental restoration projects supporting biodiversity. The pandemic has instigated a dramatic dent in office demand that is expected to remain, with firms predicted to have 20% more office space than required.

Finally, enforced work-from-home conditions during the pandemic triggered significant behavioral changes in society. Empirical studies found individuals spent more time partaking in nature-related activities such as gardening and outdoor sports, increasing individual connectedness with nature. Research calls for this reconnection as a treatment for our global environmental crisis.

Remote Work Software Supports Disaster Resilience

Climate change and extreme weather risks will lead to an increase in natural disaster frequency. For example, 2020 brought in a global pandemic (causes related to the destruction of exotic ecosystems), storm Gloria hitting the Mediterranean, and scorching heatwaves across France.

In 2019, 820 natural disaster events were registered in the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE database. The distribution of these disasters follows long-term trends towards a greater number of storms and floods.

From an economic perspective, a natural disaster is defined by The Economics of Natural Disasters as: A natural event causing perturbation to the functioning of the economic system, with a significant negative impact on assets.

Taking this definition, operating remotely businesses reduce their assets by removing the need for a set physical location – hence disaster threat is reduced. Also, not being tethered to a single location means organizations and their employees will have the flexibility needed to escape disaster zones.

Remote Work Software Reduces Business Expenses

Climate emergencies are expected to cumulatively cost the world economy $8 trillion by 2050, causing an economic downturn of 3%. Any reduction in business costs will benefit organizations under a financially squeezed economy.

Rented office spaces are one of the top operating costs for a business. These costs include security deposits, office fit-out, management and maintenance expenditures, which soon mount up. In the U.S. the average office space charges between $8 – 23 per square foot. Adopting remote work software minimizes the need for rented office spaces.

As such, remote working styles are reported to potentially save businesses ~$13,732 per employee per annum.

Once more, studies indicate that employee engagement is highest among workers that spend 3-4 days a week operating remotely. Based on an estimated average engagement rate, employees that work remotely 3 days a week will gain a 5% productivity improvement. In a 500-head company, this could save ~$3,000 per employee per annum.

Remote Work Software Improves Employee Wellbeing

A Cigna COVID-19 Global Impact Study showed a 10% drop in work-related stress in the UK since remote work measures were put in place. Other studies indicate that the increase in work flexibility lowered sickness absence, work-related impairment, and improved job commitment over a 1 year period.

Working remotely gives a level of flexibility into an employee’s daily routine reducing the frequency of work-life conflicts. Without a lengthy commute to work, remote workers can plan the start of their day, lunches, afternoon breaks, and finishing time to suit their outside work-life demands for a better balance.

A study by Owl Labs found that full-time remote workers reported being happy in their jobs 22% more than workers who are never remote. This is due to having a better work-life balance, less stress, being more productive, having more work ownership, and avoiding the daily commute.

The bombardment of crisis news on climate change, species extinction, and overexploitation shrouds society in a smog of unease, anxiety, hopelessness, and frustration. Anything that betters the wellbeing of employees, and in that sense society as a whole, is a winner. In this sense, remote work software once again comes out on top.

Adopting the Remote Work Approach to Support the Green Revolution

It is predicted that remote work and its supporting software are here to stay and there could not be a more opportune and critical time for such innovation.

As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work software can help us run our businesses more efficiently and sustainably, and reduce our environmental impact. Remote work software and other sustainable technology are gaining ground as they continue to challenge old work paradigms, present the advantages of being a green business, and revealing solutions to our current environmental crisis. In this sense, remote work software truly is a disruptive technology as it is changing life as we know it.

Transitioning to a more sustainable and secure world is only catalyzed further when we combine our green technology with our hard work and commitment to planetary wellbeing. Worldwide, more and more companies are becoming certified green businesses as it is a growing known fact that green business benefits everyone – people, the planet, and companies alike.

There is no way around it. The green revolution has already begun. So, let us do our part and invest in a brighter and greener future together.

About the Author

Jane Courtnell is a Content Writer for Process Street. With a Biology degree from Imperial College London and further studies at Imperial College’s Business School, Jane has an enthusiasm for science communication and how biology can be used to solve business issues, such as employee wellbeing, culture, and business sustainability.

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