Today is Earth Day, and the perfect time to start a dialogue around the next challenge for CIOs—sustainability. Because according to research, technology will be responsible for more than 20% of global electricity consumption and 5.5% of global emissions by 2025. With the continued flood of data only accelerated by a connected, digital workplace, now 62% of CIOs are involved in business sustainability agendas. Still, while sustainability is a priority for 90% of IT departments, nearly a third of organizations still don’t have specific targets or metrics in place to track any kind of meaningful progress.

In an update to a recent peer-reviewed study, experts found that the IT industry will soon use more electricity and emit greater carbon emissions than any country other than, India, China, and the United States. That number is expected to surge with the proliferation of the remote workforce. Why? A recent study conducted by researchers at Purdue, Yale, and MIT found that one hour of videoconferencing emits up to 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide, requires up to 12 liters (3.2 gallons) of water, and leverages a piece of land the size of an iPad Mini.

That’s just a drop in the bucket when you consider how quickly these hours add up.

These hours add up in our daily lives with all the time we’re spending on video — and so does the associated environmental footprint. Researchers estimated the global carbon footprint of the remote workforce grew by 34.3 million tons in greenhouse gas emissions. For context, that increase would require a forest twice the size of Portugal to balance the scales. Shockingly, the water footprint associated adds up quickly too. With output from 2021’s remote workforce totaling an amount comparable to 300,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, with a land equivalent to about the size of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, according to a Nielsen study, 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on products and services that come from a sustainable or socially conscious brand and are ready to stop buying from brands that don’t invest in combatting climate change. In fact, 81% of millennials are looking for brands that are transparent about their sustainability initiatives and environmental impact. Meanwhile, 75% of corporate sustainability professionals say that businesses need to improve at incorporating sustainability into the overall organizational strategy to address global trends.

So, how can CIOs and other IT leaders help the business enterprise discover a more sustainable future?

1. Start a company-wide dialogue around sustainability.

Sustainability Dialogue

CIOs and IT leaders can help lead greener organizations by taking a deeper look across company processes and bringing cross-departmental stakeholders into the conversation. For example, print-heavy operations processes can be digitized with software like DocuSign and Adobe. Switching from paper-based to digital processes, a company printing 70 pages a day can conserve more than 680 kilowatt-hours of energy annually, in addition to 37.1 liters of water and 307.9 kilograms of wood.

Working with business stakeholders to uncover opportunities to digitize and save energy is key to slimming down your carbon footprint while improving your bottom line. And it’s surprisingly easier in today’s connected workplace with more businesses limiting their office space or leaving physical office locations behind altogether. Printers and copy machines that can be heavy maintenance and energy-intensive, while using an unnecessary amount of paper aren’t as relevant as they were in a pre-2020 business environment.  Zeroing in on sales, marketing, and operations processes can help IT leaders find more environmentally-friendly approaches with modern best practices and the right technologies. But starting the dialogue and keeping it active and consistent is key to continually moving the needle at your organization.

2. Identify ways to balance business needs and energy output.

Limit energy use

Reducing the amount of energy your company uses is easier in today’s digital age. By having a hybrid remote environment you can cut down on unnecessary emissions (and commutes) while also cutting energy costs without having an office up and running Monday through Friday.  You can also get creative with the business resources and time being used outside of your physical office locations.

How many times have you heard your colleagues say, “this is my eighth meeting of the day, I need a camera break”? Zoom fatigue is a very real and abundant side effect of working remotely. Picking a day or two a week when employees can get a camera break on calls gives them a chance to refuel while reducing the carbon dioxide and water required for collaboration. Turning off the video and taking a camera break is great for mental health and the planet.

3. Be selective about your technology partners.

Technology Partners

Dig deeper when you vet procurement and technology partners to see what their approach is to offset their carbon footprints and empower greater sustainability. By leveraging technology solutions and services backed by partners who are adopting greener practices, your organization can be part of the solution. You also have the ability to highlight those partnerships and the environmental impact they make in discussions you’re having about your business and its sustainability goals when it comes to technology.

Navigate greener approaches and solutions with a trusted MSP.

Whether you’re looking for ways to minimize paper waste and digitize more processes, or you’re simply looking to adopt technologies and services from consciously greener organizations, having a trusted managed services provider (MSP) to help you identify the most sustainable approaches, services, and partners is key.

Ready to go greener?

Let’s talk

At MicroAge, our partnerships run deep across the evolving channel landscape. We can help you identify more sustainable approaches and the right providers that are working harder to protect the planet.

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