Monday 20 April 2020

Can we exit lockdown sustainably?

Can we exit lockdown sustainably?

As Governments start to develop exit strategies from the COVID-19 outbreak, it presents an opportunity that I hope will not be missed by businesses.

An opportunity to restart the country, not only with economic stimulus but with more sustainable principles of engagement.

In the normal course of business operations, it is harder to implement key behavioural changes without disrupting activities and thereby threatening profitability, even in the short term. Well, we have already been well and truly disrupted!

One such area is air quality. We have seen various NASA and Government outputs these past few weeks showing how urban areas have dramatically reduced emissions, leading to an amazingly swift breath of fresh air in those habitats.

Home working?

An area that can positively impact air quality is remote working employees, thus lowering their transport footprint and by iteration, their overall carbon footprint. We have seen the accelerated take-up of video conferencing across the globe for critical business matters, transcending cultural divides and ensuring things can still get done.

We have had to cast away our doubts about its effectiveness, in the face of the immediate demand brought on by COVID-19.

I am not advocating sending all your employees home and abandoning central offices altogether, as there is undoubted and clear benefit from working face to face and in closely knit teams. However the value of partial physical time, balanced with remote working must surely be a way forward, to ensure that businesses continue to be efficient and productive, whilst embracing a more sustainable, lower emissions baseline.

Chance to rebalance?

Businesses would be remiss to ignore this opportunity to seriously review what aspects of their operations could be rebalanced. What may have previously been considered necessary gets rethought in the context of how they have effectively operated these past few weeks remotely, albeit under duress.

I am certain that there are plenty of other areas, relevant to specific sectors and business operations, which could lead to more sustainable ways of working.

So, the opportunity is there, based on worldwide experience, that our behaviour is capable of dramatic change and we can adapt quite quickly to new ways of working effectively.

This should give us the confidence to embrace putting sustainable working practises into effect when we all return to ‘normal’.

Shravan Joshi is an elected member of the City of London

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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