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Sustainable Together: Is remote working really better for people and the planet? Part 2

From changing user demands to government regulations, supply chain requirements to net zero targets, sustainability increasingly informs every tech decision we make. In our new, ‘Sustainable Together’ blog series, Simon Watson, Cloud & Video Services Lead at Kinly, takes us through the vital impact of sustainability in AV, exploring how the right approach can improve efficiency and boost worker wellbeing, while helping to reduce waste and make your business greener.

190723 Sustainable TogetherIn my last blog post, I questioned the prevailing idea that working from home is always a positive move for the planet.

While it’s great that workers are now travelling to fewer meetings, the energy savings might not be as positive as we once thought. The centralised office environment — which was often designed with efficiency in mind — has now been replaced with hundreds, or even thousands of home offices, all requiring their own heating, lighting, and technology.

In today’s post, I wanted to drill down into the sustainability of remote working, specifically exploring the impact that it has on people and their well-being, as well as the planet.

I have long been a believer that sustainability, wellbeing, and technology are all interlinked. We cannot have a discussion about sustainability factors (such as reusability and efficiency) without also including a discussion of wellness factors (such as air quality, working hours, and inclusivity).

One of the by-products of working from home is that employees are now working longer hours than ever before. According to the latest data from over 8,000 UK workers, 52% logged more hours when working from home than they did when at the office.

From a sustainability perspective, these extended hours mean more technology use and, ultimately, more energy consumption. At the same time, they also have a serious impact on people’s mental health and personal wellbeing, as the boundaries between work-life and home-life continue to blur.

These are serious considerations that businesses need to take into account when developing their remote and hybrid working strategies. While hybrid working often results in increased productivity, that productivity can’t come at the expense of employees’ health and wellbeing. This is where the right technology choices can make all the difference.

Today, many businesses are providing employees with hybrid working systems designed specifically with their personal wellbeing in mind.

By building in the latest sensor technology, home video endpoint manufacturers will soon be able to monitor everything from temperature, to air quality, ambient noise, and even ventilation. This sort of environmental monitoring technology can help to alert employees when their home working environment is sub-optimal for their long-term health. Similar systems are also being introduced to encourage workers to stand up, move around, take breaks, and even improve their posture.

This type of data is not only vital for workers themselves but can also help businesses develop the most effective hybrid working strategies.

Imagine being able to ping employees when outside air quality is poor, encouraging them to stay home and avoid the commute when it’s potentially detrimental to their health. Similar systems could also provide optimised working advice, such as encouraging individuals to open a window when their workspace is becoming too warm to work effectively. Alternatively, these sensors could even warn employees when they’ve spent long periods working remotely, providing friendly encouragement to come into the office and socialise with their colleagues.

Predictive insights will also be key. For instance, a home terminal could review the weather forecast for tomorrow, recommending an ideal heating schedule, while helping to optimise workers’ heating bills and lower their carbon footprints.

Driving sustainable user behaviour from these sorts of device insights will help guide businesses on how they can improve engagement, inclusivity and, more importantly, sustainable user activity, both for remote workers and in-office employees

By thinking about hybrid working technologies from both a sustainability and employee wellbeing perspective, we can start to create the best possible experiences for everyone involved.

Decisions about the development and deployment of hybrid working technologies are no longer being left to the IT department. Now, the most progressive companies are combining HR and IT to put wellness at the heart of their strategies.

This coming together of IT, HR, and even facilities teams, is helping businesses to meet ESG goals, improving wellbeing, and helping to redesign working spaces — both at the office and inside people’s homes.

At Kinly, we work with all elements of an organisation, including IT, HR, and workers themselves to ensure that our remote working solutions and hybrid workflows deliver the best experiences for everyone.

When provided with the right technologies — and the right hybrid strategies — remote working doesn’t have to mean the end of a healthy work-life balance. In fact, in organisations where the right set up is provided, remote and flexible working actually improves employees’ mental wellbeing, engagement with work, and overall productivity. Win, win, win.

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