We hear the word ‘sustainability’ a lot these days. It’s everywhere. In the news, in government memos and policy fact sheets, in NGOs and NPOs’ mission statements.
From sustainable economic development that will better our global future to the small everyday investment in the Green idea on an individual level, it’s clear that we can’t go on as before. We need to reconsider our use of resources and minimise the harmful effects on Nature. Full stop. So, we’ve long gone beyond talking trends only, here.
And of course, businesses are playing a big role in all this. As business owners, I believe we need to lead by example. It’s no good to claim that you’re thinking green, recycle at home, use a reusable grocery bag when shopping and so forth… But at the same time, you don’t make the same effort when it comes to running your business.
Competitive innovation in business – moving forward in a sustainable way
I’ve talked about this before in great detail. It’s foolish not to put technology and innovation to good use. So, who are the winners in business today, with regards to the global sustainable development narrative? These are the entrepreneurs, who have a deep understanding of all the aspects of sustainability. In other words, we’re not talking about quick marketing tricks and ‘green’, ‘organic’, ‘eco’ logos here.
No. You need to delve deeper. Ok, you invest in innovation to reduce your carbon footprint and this way, contribute to the environment, but also, you need to look into the social and economic aspects of sustainability, when it comes to your business practices, as well. Only then, you’ll be able to say to yourself that you and your company have a holistic approach to sustainability.
Let me give you an example of what we do at FantasticServices.com, regarding specifically the development of custom software, driven by our mission to become a carbon-neutral company in the next few years. Our travel-optimisation tools have saved us thousands of miles and about 20% of travel time. We are talking about getting our service providers out of traffic, assigning them local jobs only and optimising their time on the road by choosing the shortest and least congested route to the job. Voila! This is a no-brainer way of reducing CO2 emissions effectively.
And of course, by being an innovative and disruptive franchisor, this sustainable model of serving our customers and running our processes is replicated across each and every franchise unit under the brand. So, you see how we hit 3 birds with one stone – we think ‘sustainable’ economically and socially (our partners spend less on fuel and enjoy a better work-life balance by not wasting unpaid time travelling or getting stuck in traffic), and at the same time, we help the environment by decreasing our carbon footprint. And all this is achieved with a simple act of embracing innovation and the latest technological tools.
Introduce more carbon footprint reduction practices
I’ll mention just a few practices that businesses can easily incorporate and follow.
Saying NO to paper is an obvious one. For example, at our office, we’ve consciously left only one printer in use for all the departments. Leaflets, flyers, printed company memos – all have a role, but we keep producing those to a minimum.
I’ve talked about this before but let’s emphasise this again. Optimise your operations as much as possible! For instance, we encourage online bookings rather than wasting valuable time and human resources on phone calls, which have a bigger CO2 footprint.
Also, as a business, we’ve really implemented Clean or Repair rather than Replace as a core message translated into our non-stop growing service portfolio. We’ll deep clean even your curtains or small rug, your toaster or coffee maker – items that one can be so easily enticed to replace if they get too stained and dirty.
Furthermore, just as an example, a lot of our cleaning solutions use zero or minimum detergents, such as the window cleaning method with purified water only or the hot water extraction carpet cleaning technique we employ.
Not to mention the huge spike in demand for our appliance and hard surface repair services… Why throw something perfectly repairable on the skip when it can be fixed? So, you see, the mindset of customers has shifted. This means that you should keep your finger on the pulse of your clients’ needs, changes in views and shifting focus on values.
Refuse control and management is another thing we’re all aware of, which needs to be done responsibly. But outside recycling, a lot more can be done when it comes to implementing reusable and refillable products, not only biodegradables, whether around the office or with regards to your suppliers of consumables.
On that note, reconsider your supply chain! And here, we are not only talking about eco-friendly products and their packaging but also about taking into account how sustainable your supplier is as a business.
Providing your staff with flexible work options, like working from home, is also a great way to minimise carbon footprint and contribute to the social sustainability efforts of your business. I hear you, we’ve all been isolated enough during the pandemic, but many of your employees might be more productive and happier, working from home, or it may simply suit their family circumstances better.
Educate and involve your employees to green up their lifestyle
Here, I can talk about my personal experience in great detail. FantasticServices.com is really on a mission to involve all parties – staff, partners, service providers and customers, and encourage them to think and act Green in every aspect of their lives. We do weekly workshops for our employees on different environmentally friendly topics and regularly take part in different green initiatives and events, here in the UK, and also in Australia and Europe.
So, it’s good to think about partnering with non-profit organisations, getting involved in environmental projects and volunteering to help a green cause. Form partnerships with like-minded organisations, whether business or non-profit.
Last but not least, speak up proudly about your contribution to the environment and involvement in green initiatives, as this way, business partners, competitors, suppliers and customers alike will follow suit. After all, isn’t the wellbeing of our planet our common goal?
To wrap this up
Sustainability in business is not only about focusing on Nature-friendly products and practices, and essentially marketing those effectively. You have to fine-tune every aspect of your business and transform it gradually to become economically and socially sustainable, too. This in effect means that business sustainability goes hand in hand with efficiency, innovation, cost-effectiveness, social responsibility, better work-life balance for your employees and sustainable delivery of products or services to your customers. Failure to recognise all this, or being short-sighted to our common problems may, unfortunately, cause struggles for your business.
Rune Sovndahl, is the co-founder of FantasticServices.com – an international brand with 10+ years of experience that combines technological innovations with bespoke customer care to deliver services for the home, office and garden. Rune, who is Danish, moved to London 20 years ago to study for a BA (Hons) in Business Information Systems Design at South Bank University. Following completion of his degree, he was accepted onto a graduate programme with British Telecom. In 2003 he also established the European Young Professionals committee in London and was involved in its website's creation as well as in the recruitment of more than 200 new members, also working for lastminute.com as Head of SEO before establishing Fantastic Service in 2009.