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What does sustainability look like for professional services firms post-coronavirus?

While tech professionals across all sectors have been focused on keeping the country moving during lockdown, many long-term strategies have had to take a backseat.

The way Britain works changed almost overnight, posing a significant technical challenge for many firms.

Faced with such fundamental technical and logistical changes, IT departments have understandably put longer-term initiatives such as developing a business sustainability strategy on the backburner until things return to ‘normal’.

However, as workforces settle into new ways of working, IT leaders may find themselves in an unprecedented position to review, redefine and roll-out sweeping change that can give their business a competitive advantage.

Professional services firms may feel they have a relatively small impact on the environment when compared to other major industries like manufacturing. However, with a conscious drive from organisations of all sizes to improve sustainability in business, the topic has been pushed up the agenda.

Professional services firms therefore need to be armed with robust business sustainability strategies and keep abreast of the latest trends and initiatives if they want to meet growing demand from clients. 

In this article, we’ll look at three key trends professional services firms should be aware of if they want to improve their approach to sustainability. 

1. Sustainability as a business imperative 

A lot of companies are still of the mindset that CSR and sustainability efforts are a ‘bonus’ or a good thing to do for PR. However, many professional services firms are now seeing a growth in the number of pitches and RFPs that seek specific information about their corporate social responsibility efforts. Enquiries range from diversity and employment practices to tactics for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Research has shown that 99% of CEOs believe that sustainability issues are important to the future success of their business. So, much more than a ‘nice to have’, sustainability now needs to be a core business objective for professional services firms. Those that don’t commit to improving their environmental practices may see themselves left behind by potential clients and other partners who see sustainability in business as a key part of doing business.

2. Collaboration

Professional Services firms are increasingly recognising that they will need to develop new models of partnership and engagement if they are to respond adequately to emerging environmental and social challenges. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a successful sustainable development agenda requires “inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre.” Professional services firms will need to change things within their own direct sphere of control, but also engage and influence across markets and supply chains to evolve values and norms. For a good example of how this can be done effectively, take a look at PWC’s approach to supply chain sustainability, or our own corporate social responsibility activity

3. Circular Economy

The circular economy is an economic system aimed at minimising waste and maximising the use of resources. The idea is to ‘design out’ waste from the product life cycle by recovering and regenerating materials at the end of each service life. Circular products have become more and more prevalent as attitudes and technology shift, from tyres that get recycled into trainers to soft plastics that are mixed with asphalt for roads. In order to reduce the consumption and wastage they incur, professional services firms are increasingly opting for circular products, such as office printers with parts that can be recycled and replaced. Brother is a zero waste to landfill certified company and to aid our commitment to circular product design, we recycle 1.8 million toner cartridges every year.

Things you can do straight away to improve business sustainability

The topic of environmental sustainability in business can seem daunting for many firms. Until now it’s been true that transformation takes time, but in the current climate organisations have been forced to adapt almost overnight. There are several simple measures you can take to set your business on the right path. Most of the environmental impact generated by professional services firms comes through things like business travel and energy use in office spaces.

Videoconferencing has become standard practice for many businesses, and today’s software is much more advanced and reliable than it has been. To make a policy of eliminating unnecessary travel and holding more video calls, no longer seems like an unreasonable expectation.

As far as the office goes, we may well see a widespread rethink as firms come to terms with the fallout from enforced remote working. Initially at least, there are still lots of things that can be done at a micro level that will ultimately have a big impact on your environmental footprint.

Switching to energy-saving lighting and motion sensors can reduce your energy consumption. Kitchens tend to produce a lot of waste, so consider installing recycling bins for plastic and glass. As mentioned earlier, Brother offers a toner recycling service that will reduce the amount of tech waste you send to landfill. You can also take advantage of eco-friendly features on our devices such as automatic two-sided printing, low-power modes and the ability to scan direct to shared network folders to reduce paper usage.

Create a solid business sustainability strategy with Brother

Brother is here to help you on the road to more environmentally friendly practices. Our sustainable development coordinator is on hand with the information and support you need to improve your knowledge of the solutions, services and initiatives that will create a more sustainable business going forward.

To find out more, visit our business sustainability page, or contact a member of our team today.

 

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