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5 Ways Remote Digital Agencies Can Strive to Become Carbon Neutral

  Minute read

When the global pandemic hit in March 2020, companies all over the world were forced to work from home to abide by the national guidelines. This sudden increase in remote working led to a significant decrease in global emissions that year, provoking companies to consider what they can do going forward to implement more carbon-conscious initiatives. 

There are the obvious ways that we can all help to reduce our carbon footprint such as minimising our work-related travel by means of car and aeroplane, instead opting for greener ways of travel such as biking, walking, car-sharing. 

But many companies have gone one step further and stayed entirely or partially remote after realising that remote working comes with a whole host of benefits. The most important benefit being a huge reduction in carbon emissions and a step towards a carbon neutral future. 

Our take on sustainability

Beyond Agency is one of the few digital marketing agencies that have always been remote - even before the pandemic hit. By having our entire team working remotely, we are now on the road to becoming a carbon-neutral marketing agency. In the last year, we've made some big strides in reducing our environmental impact, but there is still a hell of a long way to go!

We have always been a carbon-conscious company, but 2022 sees some ambitious goals to help make huge reductions in our environmental impact. We will be outlining some of the ways all companies can look to become carbon-neutral, and offer ways in which the team at Beyond are working towards net-zero emissions.

"As marketers, we have the power to influence how people shop, live, work and socialise, so why not influence these things in a way that protects the environment for generations who will be around longer than us!"

We hope that these actions can inspire other digital marketing agencies and organisations further afield to start their own journey toward sustainability!

Why we should all care about sustainability

It's becoming more and more apparent that the environment is in serious danger, and we want to help take action.

Programmes like the BBC's BluePlanet documentaries, and Netflix's Seaspiracy and Cowspiracy, have made it increasingly obvious to us that if we don't do something about our impact on the planet now, there won't be much of a planet left in just a few hundred years.

As a team, we're passionate about protecting the environment and each of us take an active role in reducing our environmental impact. We want to show our clients the importance of sustainability, and that it should not just be a factor when it comes to choosing an agency to work with, but something they should be conscious of in their own organisations.

Aligning business practices with sustainability is more than just a personal passion of some of our staff; it's the right thing to do...

5 ways remote working reduces your carbon footprint

1. Absolutely zero day-to-day commuting

Transportation is one of the key emitters of carbon emissions globally (responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions) - and in the UK alone transport produced a shocking 27% of the UK’s total emissions in 2019. 

Being a remote agency contributes phenomenally towards reducing carbon emissions as the journey to and from a workplace is entirely cut out. There are no long commutes or traffic jams either so it’s beneficial to remote employees as they save the time and stress of driving to work! Who doesn’t want an extra hour either side of work to do something productive?

Beyond is already reducing our carbon footprint by being entirely remote. None of our employees have any day-to-day commute to make - apart from the transition from their bed to their home desk (and the fridge a few times a day). 

What's more, 99% of all client and team communications take place online. This means no traveling by car, plane, train or other means of public transport for a meeting. On the rare occasion that we do hold client meetings face-to-face, we car share where possible or use public transport.

We try to indulge in carbon-neutral activities as much as possible - during lunch breaks the team are encouraged to take a break from their screens, whether that be a walk or a bike ride.

That said, every business is different, and what works for one may not work for another. If a business is too large or will find it particularly difficult to move their entire business to remote working, they should look at opportunities for flexible working. For example, implementing bi-weekly working from home schedules so employees are cutting their travel by at least 50% a year. 

2. No single-use plastics in the office and less waste

The UK generates more than two million metric tons of plastic packaging waste every year and a study found that the average office worker in America generates a substantial amount of waste; from 10,000 sheets of office paper to 500 coffee cups per year. Quite clearly one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by cutting back on disposable plastics. 

We've made sure that in our home offices, there is no need for single-use plastic cups or bottles. Instead, we all use our Beyond branded hydro flasks or mugs for drinks. Being at home, we also have less of a desire to pop to the shops and pick up a pre-packaged meal deal at lunch time because more often than not there is food in the fridge!

When it comes to our caffeine fix, we try to avoid single-use coffee capsules, instead using reusable pods that we fill with fairtrade coffee varieties. 

3. Energy-efficient lighting in home offices

It may come as a shock to hear that lighting makes up around 13% of global electricity consumption and 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Building Energy Efficiency Survey from 2016 found that 67% of energy consumption in commercial buildings in the UK was used to provide building services including lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and hot water. 

Research also shows that 50% of offices in the UK leave their lights on overnight and at weekends, contributing not only to unnecessary increases to energy bills but also unnecessarily wasted energy.

Working from home offices means that we don't have the utilities and energy consumption associated with large office buildings. There's no heating or air-conditioning left running overnight or running simultaneously alongside heating or cooling our homes whilst we're at work.

Woman working from home at a desktop with a headset on

It also makes it easier to manage energy usage by turning off lights in rooms that aren't being used. This means that, for 8 hours a day, your carbon footprint is contained to running just one room per team member, eliminating the danger of leaving large office spaces lit up or heated overnight. 

What’s more, it’s easier to change to more energy efficient alternatives. Our team all have a mixture of natural light and energy-efficient lighting in their homes. We have swapped to LED bulbs where possible as they use a fraction of the power than incandescent or fluorescent lights require.

Some of the team with dedicated office rooms also have motion sensors so that the lights turn on when walking in and turn off after a minute of inactivity. This means if we pop out to make a coffee or go for our lunchtime walk and forget to turn out the lights, they'll automatically turn off. 

As a remote agency or organisation, you should encourage staff to opt for energy-efficient alternatives - as an added bonus, they’ll benefit from lower utility bills at the end of the month!

4. Home-grown fruit and vegetables

Working remotely means more time at home. No commuting means not starting so early or finishing so late and your lunch breaks tend to become filled with household chores to save doing them at the weekend! 

Why not dedicate some of this extra time to planting and tending to your own vegetable patch?

Starting a vegetable patch in your back garden or a nearby allotment is a fun way to reduce your carbon footprint. It helps to reduce your consumption of shop-bought food that is grown hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Transporting shop-bought fruit and vegetables contributes significantly to climate change - whereas the journey for your home-grown carrots is only a short walk from garden to kitchen!

Here at Beyond we all take part in (attempting) to grow fruit and vegetables at home so we can be sure they're fresh, organic and local. We've had some success this year with carrots (very wonky), onions (tiny) and lettuce (not the most flourishing!) but at least we gave it a go. The best of them all has to be JP's mangoes! We’ll let him take the crown for those.

Home-grown fruit and vegetables taste incredible so it's a win-win situation when it comes to striving towards carbon neutrality.

5. Minimal printed resources

There are some shocking statistics when it comes to wasted resources in offices; of the 10,000 sheets on a yearly average that an office worker uses, 6800 of them are wasted. Now, if you take into account that 1 tree provides 10,000 sheets of paper, and how many people work in the UK - 29.4 million in employment - that’s A LOT of trees being wasted. 

As a digital agency, you'd be right to assume that everything we do is online, including documentation and operations. It’s way easier than flailing around with bits of paper everywhere. We use Google cloud storage to house all of our company's documents and client resources - no printing needed. 

Gone are the days of printing 20-page documents and posting them to clients for hand-written signatures, not that we've ever done that, but if that sounds like you, invest in Adobe Sign, NOW, and avoid the paper, printing and postage impacts on the environment!

Our minimal printed resources include in-person workshop materials for use in team sessions, but we're looking to take these online using cool, interactive platforms like Figjam. Our welcome packs include a notebook, but we ensure they are made from recycled plastics.

Setting yourself goals as a sustainable business

Becoming carbon-neutral is never going to happen over night. Changing old habits always takes a bit of time, but we’re ready to put the work in to get there, and you should too. 

Climate change and global warming is not going to just disappear, and it is certainly not limited to just the UK - all around the world, companies and people need to work together to shift the demand and supply away from fossil fuels and in the direction of low carbon to reach the end goal of net zero. 

We're continually looking for new ways to improve our environmental credentials, so here is an outline of some of our future goals:

  1. Investing in a greenhouse so we can grow fruit and vegetables all year round, and protect them from birds, cats, foxes and all other nuisance animals that have stolen our tasty creations this year!
  2. Initiate a Plant a Tree campaign - we're looking to partner with Trees For Life or using the One For One programme.
  3. Encourage all of our employees to implement a ‘greener’ way of life outside of work, this includes; their car choice, using their own reusable shopping bags, buying only what they need to avoid waste, and avoiding buying products with excessive plastic packaging.

How you can help Beyond Agency become a sustainable company

If you’re looking to work with us, or you already do, there are several things we hope you can do to help us achieve our goals:

  1. Where possible, keep all legal and business documents online, using safe and secure cloud storage
  2. Host most, if not all, general meetings using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom
  3. When meeting up for events or in-person meetings, ask your colleagues to car-share where possible
  4. Join us in the move towards eliminating single-use plastics from your home office (better still, your home!)
Emma Fieldhouse Founder of Beyond Agency
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