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Help your remote workforce to embrace business sustainability
In the UK in 2020, over 5 million people worked mainly from home, with trends for remote working showing no signs of slowing. As of 2021, 26.7% of U.S employees work remotely, with 16% of companies in the United States being fully remote. What was once considered a luxury pre-2020 is now widely accepted and is a large part of many ‘knowledge workers’ lives. The increased flexibility, autonomy, and lack of a commute are incredibly beneficial to people’s mental health.
But what happens when the lack of in-person contact means that company-wide sustainability efforts feel a little more disjointed? There are challenges to keeping a remote workforce fully engaged, but if you follow the advice below, your workforce can start to embrace business sustainability with open arms.
5 minutes to read
Remove the pressure
When trying to persuade people to adopt lifestyle habits or convince them that business sustainability is a priority, pressurising will only make people more defensive and resistant to the idea.
We are not hardwired to readily accept criticism, and we don’t like to be told that we’re doing something wrong – it doesn’t feel good. So removing any pressure or guilt is a great first step.
Instead, the best way to get people to change their ways is by leading by example, making changes simple to implement and letting people come around to the idea in their own time. Of course, as a remote team, this might be trickier as your team can’t watch you religiously bring in your reusable coffee cup every morning or take note of your plastic-free pens.
Casually mention your sustainability habits in conversation rather than demanding people to do the same. Leading by example (or leading by inspiration, as we like to think of it) is one of the best ways to get others to follow suit.
Focus on the positives
Although there’s no use hiding our heads in the sand and pretending like sustainability issues don’t exist. But dwelling on the negatives isn’t sustainable in the long run, and may not help people to become motivated with the reasons behind sustainability.
There’s plenty of research out there on the effects of positive and negative message framing – otherwise known as the ‘framing effect.’ This is where people’s behaviour is positively influenced by the language used. When we want people to do something, we’ll see the best results when we promote a reward or a positive outcome.
So, if you want people to embrace business sustainability habits, communicate positive messages and showcase what life could or would look like if the business adopted as many sustainable habits as possible. Focusing on the negatives might convince a few people, but for most, it will only make them disheartened and think what is the point?’
Offer initiatives for hitting sustainability goals
Just because your workforce is fully remote doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t embrace business sustainability. Offering initiatives, prizes, or rewards for adopting sustainability habits will help to bring together your remote team and foster a sense of community.
You could create a team or individual score chart for how many days people consistently adopt a sustainable work-related habit, offering eco-friendly prizes or workplace rewards for the winners.
A small dose of healthy competition between colleagues will only benefit their motivation to embrace workplace sustainability – so make it fun!
Appoint a sustainability team or leaders
When trying to implement change within a business it’s important to show that you are considering the thoughts and feelings of your employees. This is particularly important for remote teams who may feel like they’re being left out if they aren’t regularly spoken to or involved in decisions that affect them.
Selecting a few people to act as a sustainability team, bridging the gap between employees and upper management, will help your team to embrace business sustainability and allow employees to offer ideas and suggestions to the business.
This will also help to prevent anyone from feeling left out or disconnected from the business, as you’re giving people an opportunity to have someone to talk to about their concerns, issues, or struggles.
Facilitate regular discussions about sustainability
Whether the sustainability team leads this as a more structured discussion or it’s a casual informal coffee chat, it’s important to engage a remote workforce in regular discussions about the changes happening within the business. Explaining to employees the reasoning behind company sustainability decisions, backed up by facts and data, will help people to embrace the changes.
If you can explain the why behind each decision, there will be less resistance as people will see the changes as important and justified. People are better at understanding things when there are numbers involved, too – we don’t necessarily identify with statistics, but with numbers that are easily imaginable and not too large.
But as we mentioned earlier, don’t use these discussions to persuade. Instead, make them an open book and an opportunity for employees to ask questions and learn from each other.
Ailuna for Teams
The Ailuna sustainability engagement app uses behavioural science techniques to help people implement sustainable habits and actually keep them, making it fun to develop habits that are good for the planet. Ailuna’s habit-building magic starts with the actions. Our team has researched, collated advice and created engagement programs specifically aimed at organisations and teams. When you’re ready to start, we will guide you through the setup process, show you some easy ways to ensure success and help you every step of the way.
To find out more, email email@example.com and we’ll be in touch!
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GoCardless, a company that provides Direct Debit payment processing to businesses across the world, is committed to operating as sustainably as possible.