Three years ago, our work habits were entirely different, until we were forced to reinvent how we meet and collaborate. Now the world has opened up again, and some business leaders are trying to revert to business travel’s “old normal.” But for smart businesses, the world has moved on for good.
For starters, there’s the math of Net Zero. A 2019 study by the U.K.’s Ad Net Zero found that air travel was responsible for over half the CO2e emitted by marketing operations. Dramatically reducing air travel is the single most direct lever these organizations can pull to hit their Net Zero targets.
And then there’s the cost. With sky-high fuel prices and looming recession, few CFOs will be happy spending millions on travel to meetings that were already working well over the internet.
Now is the time for organizations to build a future-fit, sustainable global connectivity model. Here are some ways to do so:
1. Embrace the power of connecting digital-first. The hard work of making employees comfortable with new tech platforms is done. Now is the time to build toward ever-more-effective and rewarding forms of digital collaboration. There remain engagement and fatigue issues to be overcome -- but organizations should move forward, not backwards, in addressing them.
2. Create a CO2e budget. Calculate the amount of carbon you are prepared to emit through travel this year, and measure all travel against it. This enables you to make informed decisions about what travel you prioritize (you’ll be surprised at the waste you discover!). Reduce the budget by 10%-20% year-on-year in line with Net Zero goals. Good news for CFOs: You will also save money on your financial budget!
3. Intentionally design virtual experiences to keep your teams present and participating in the virtual room. There are exciting new platforms coming out which can make your virtual experience both enjoyable and memorable, such as 3D virtual conferences and escape rooms. Keep an open mind and don’t forget that there’s a world beyond Zoom breakout rooms. Showing innovation in how you bring people together is a great way to demonstrate progressive leadership.
4. Design your virtual experience around people and their needs. Employee experience (EX) is the new CX, and organizations need to design employee-centric forms of connection. This starts with being smart with your people’s time. We are redesigning global connectivity for a new era, so be pragmatic and empathetic in the employee experiences you’re creating for 2022 and beyond.
5. Create commercial value around the time that would have been spent traveling. This goes without saying, but time is money -- and any time you can save by avoiding traveling should be recognized in different ways. One example: a carbon kickback program that rewards clients for avoiding unnecessary air travel, and giving time back to employees for taking the train -- whether to meetings or on holiday.
Only by adapting to an unavoidable new reality and set of expectations will the marketing industry become not only more environmentally friendly, but also more employee-centric. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.