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How businesses can use video communications to fight climate change 

 By Philip Perry, Zoom Communications 

Technology is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, relate to one another and to the external world. But we are only now coming to the realization that we consume more natural resources than the planet can regenerate and as business owners, we all have a responsibility to make a change.

Now as the clock is ticking, it’s time to focus on the solutions which we know exist or have the potential to be developed and this is where technology, along with behavioural change, can help us reboot the health of our nature and planet.

From the high seas to the depths of the world’s most dense forests, technology can transform how we identify, measure, track and value the many services and resources nature provides us with.

Before the telephone, to meet with someone miles away you had to go (by horse, no less!) to that person’s town and find them. Requesting the meeting took days and the time and energy of the postal service. With the telephone, people didn’t have to write letters but they did have to travel to meet. Now, with the advent of video communications, the face-to-face meeting has become almost obsolete. Video supersedes other methods of communication in terms of realism and experience. Since it’s almost as good as a face-to-face encounter, a video meeting is all you really need to communicate over distances.

Travel is a huge business expense – financially and environmentally – especially for small businesses or start-ups, or if you have international clients or partners. Travel is extremely costly for the environment as well, since the emissions from car and plane engines contribute to the depletion of our planet’s ozone as well as its fossil fuels. Video communications eliminate the need for road and air transportation. Furthermore, when there’s an unparalleled user experience, video communication incentivizes companies to host virtual meetings rather than traveling to meet.

And it doesn’t stop there. By using video and working from home, you are not just saving money and your carbon footprint on travel, you no longer have to use the company’s air conditioning, lighting, or heating. The less time employees, customers, and partners spend in an office building, the more money the company saves. All the energy saved, translates into fewer emissions, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere. Therefore, if you care about environmental friendliness, video is one of the best ways to ‘green’ your business.

3 ways face-to-face meetings are causing climate damage

  1. Flying or driving and staying in hotels uses lots of energy, which inevitably generates carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change plus air pollutants that lead to smog; and with growing numbers of people globally experiencing lung or breathing problems, it’s essential to reduce our dependency on local and international travel.
  2. In-person meetings are often littered with excessive paper documents, plastic water bottles, refreshments served on paper, and plastic and packaging that can’t be recycled.
  3. Food waste is another big issue; most meeting organizers order much more food than can be consumed by the attendees. When the meeting is over, those extra sandwiches, cookies, salads and apples usually end up in the bin.

5 ways video communications can help fight climate change

  • Saving Energy –According to a report commissioned by the Carbon Disclosure Project, video communications can avoid millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Reduce Paper, Printer Ink and Toner —Reducing paper consumption is another significant bonus. Rather than print out paper documents for each in-person attendee, agendas, memos, reports, edits and recommendations can be shared digitally, eliminating the need for any paper.
  • Skip Plastic –Most meeting organizers make sure all attendees have an unlimited supply of bottled water. But what happens to all those throwaway bottles when the conference is over? When you’re sitting in a video meeting, you’re more likely to use a water glass or reusable mug.
  • Limit Food Waste –Most face-to-face conferences end up providing two or three meals per day, plus snacks and a cocktail hour of some sort. Ideally, the leftovers would be picked up by a soup kitchen or food bank. More often, they’re just thrown away. If you’re sitting in on a video meeting at your desk at home or in the office, you’re probably eating what you’d normally have, and wrapping up the leftovers for the next day.
  • Save Time and Increase Flexibility –One major benefit of video communications is that has less to do with the environment and more to do with the overall quality of life, is that it saves so much time. How often have you travelled 24 or 48 hours for a meeting that lasts no more than three hours? If you have small children, a growing business that’s hard to leave, or other professional or personal obligations, being able to attend a meeting virtually without having to leave home or the office, can reduce stress while still allowing you to meet your obligations and while enjoying a healthy work-life balance.

The problem with the environment in the context of business, is it that actions to improve it have to make business sense to be worth implementing. One of the main reasons why so many environmentally positive actions aren’t taken on, is because a business would have to make a sacrifice. In these tough economic times, for many companies, this isn’t viable and it doesn’t make business sense. Video communications, however, does have the rare benefit of helping the environment and makes sense for SMEs. Whether you’re motivated to reduce your environmental impact, save money and time, or increase flexibility, adopting some form of video communications is a great way to get started and be part of the fight against climate change.