Environmental sustainability is fast becoming a top priority for many companies, not only making it an ethical precedence but also as a strategic business indicator for growth and expansion.
What companies have found is that what is good for business can be good for the environment — and technology-enabled training can help to lead the way.
Companies contemplating ‘green learning’ requires detailed forethought and going back to the fundamentals; that is, looking at the company’s programs and processes. Encouraging managers and employees to think creatively and proactively about environmental issues can be part of a larger change management effort. It can also have a cross-over effect of bringing new creativity and motivation to other areas of the business.
Here are eight ways in which training can help in the company’s overall sustainability goal.
Shift more learning online
One of the easiest, yet most effective, ways that training can reduce its carbon footprint is to limit the number of classroom training sessions, especially those that require travel. Look for ways to use virtual classroom or self-paced e-learning to replace classroom training. When it is necessary to bring people to a physical location, look for facilities that are centrally located.
Hold more virtual meetings
With widely dispersed employees and constantly changing business requirements, virtual meetings make more sense than ever. Encourage employees to collaborate online by providing easy-to-use virtual classroom or Web meeting tools. Make sure that employees receive training on how to use them effectively. The beauty of virtual meeting rooms is that attendees maintain the level of closeness within the meeting, being able to not only hear them but also see them as well.
Green your training facilities
Install energy-saving light bulbs and use motion detectors to ensure that lights don’t get left on in unused rooms. Look for energy-efficient computers and office machines that have earned the “Energy- Star” rating. Recycle old computers (but make sure you know where they’re going). Document your savings so that you can demonstrate to senior management that green approaches are good for the bottom line.
Use online job aids to reinforce training. Use online books when you need a quick answer. Review the materials that you currently print and look for opportunities to re-use and reduce. Use coffee mugs instead of paper or foam cups at your training sessions.
Choose green providers
When selecting hotels and other providers for training sessions, ask what environmental programs they have in place. Make sustainability questions a standard part of your standard RFP. Make sure attendees at your events know that environmental responsibility is part of the selection criteria
Let’s face it — a free lunch never hurts attendance at any training session. So whenever possible, request that food come from local farms and businesses to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation involved in the delivery. It’s also a good way to support the local economy.
Practice the three 'R's
Writing, reading and ‘rithmetic’, move over. The new definition of the three 'R's is reduce, reuse and recycle. Sponsor brainstorming sessions where employees can think of new ideas to reduce, reuse and recycle. Offer friendly team competition for the best ideas with green-themed prizes, such as coffee mugs and canvas grocery totes.
Telecommuting is one of the most effective ways for organizations to reduce their overall emissions, but telecommuters can sometimes feel cut off from colleagues and training opportunities. Make a special effort to reach out to telecommuters and make sure they understand all of the training options that are available to them online.
The concerns relating to the environment are not going away. Like in manufacturing and development, it is not going to be long before the impact on the learning ecosystem is assessed and players made accountable. Given the inevitable, it is prudent to be prepared.
(The author is Director — Asia, SkillSoft Asia Pacific. The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CIOL)