You are using an ad blocker that is interfering with our web typography and internal javascript. Please whitelist our domain to live in a more beautiful world. No ads here, just really great software!

Do you have what it takes to compete in the Digital Workplace Games? Accept the Challenge

Blog Post|8 minutes

Thinking Green: Can Nexthink Lower Our Corporate Carbon Footprint by Focusing on Employee Engagement

Thinking Green: Can Nexthink Lower Our Corporate Carbon Footprint by Focusing on Employee Engagement
June 10th

If used wisely and in the right manner, technology can offer a lot of democratization of knowledge related to climate change, related to any kind of issue that humanity faces or wants to address.” – Lubomila Jordanova, The DEX Show 

Lowering the corporate carbon footprint is a growing concern for businesses of all sizes, as climate change continues and threatens to impact business profits in the long term. And although there are myriad ways to begin to lower carbon footprint, from examining supply chain logistics to changing production methods, there is one area of carbon emissions that can too often be overlooked: the carbon emissions of our digital technologies.  

Our devices and the ways we use them can have a massive carbon footprint, but small changes can have a correspondingly significant impact on lowering those emissions. To lower the overall emissions of your digital ecosystem, you need to engage your most valuable asset: your employees. 

Employee engagement is key to successfully reducing the corporate carbon footprint of workplace technology. At Nexthink, we recently ran a campaign to see if we could engage our own employees, educate them about the environmental impact of their technology usage, and drive a drop in our own carbon emissions. 

Read More: How Nexthink Extended Hardware Refresh Cycles & Improved Employee Happiness 

Nexthink’s Green IT Engage Quiz 

An internal eco-minded group of Nexthink employees called the Greenthinkers collaborated with IT to launch a four-week Green-IT campaign focused on educating colleagues about how their use of technology negatively impacts the environment while providing actionable steps to start reducing their energy consumption right away.  

 We utilized real-world equivalencies for CO2 measurements to help quantify the impact of their digital behaviors. Then the Greenthinkers shared some simple and immediate actions that everyone can take to curb consumption and establish greener technology habits in the office and at home!   

In honor of Earth month, the Green IT challenge ran throughout April. During the month, a Nexthink Engage campaign asked employees one question per week, designed to help them understand the carbon footprint of their digital habits while at work, with specific actions to lower consumption and change behavior. In this article, we’ll review the approach and the initial results of this month-long challenge. 

Question One: Shut Down Your Device to Save Energy  

First, we kicked off the month with the simplest question of the set: we asked how much energy they thought their device used if left running overnight for 5 days. For this question, our goal was  to educate employees on the impact of device uptime.

This first quiz question had the highest response rate of the month, with an astounding 81% of targeted Nexthinkers responding to the quiz! But how did they do? Did our employees “pass” the quiz?

Respondents had to resist the temptation to select “all of the above.” At the end of the day, out of all the employees who participated, 45% were able to evade the temptation of “all of the above” and choose the right answer:

Leaving your device on overnight for 5 nights consumes the same amount of energy as (drumroll please): 10 hours of binge-watching on your TV!

After they completed that week’s question, each respondent was given a call to action to turn off devices after work every day moving forward to help lower overall carbon emissions. We’ll discuss the results of that call to action a bit later in the article. But first, it’s time to look at week two.

Week Two – Cleanup One Drive to Reduce CO2

The following Monday, on April 11th, we asked over 500 employees our second question: what is the CO2 equivalent of 100GB of data stored in OneDrive?

This time, no tricks – the answer was All of the above!  The response rate remained high at 77%, with 36% responding with the correct answer

Week 3: Greenthinkers did the math!

Week three focused on the weight of email attachments. We asked employees what they thought was the carbon footprint of sending the official Nexthink sales presentation by email to 10 recipients.

Halfway through the month, we wondered if participation would lag, but response rates were still amazing at 75%, with 55% of Nexthinkers answering correctly: sending the Nexthink sales presentation as an attachment to 10 customers generates the same CO2 emissions as 60 fully charging smartphones.

Week three included a call to action to replace email attachments with OneDrive links to lower CO2 emissions, and reminded everyone to implement email housekeeping, to remove old emails as well as emails with large attachments.

Week 4 and the Home Stretch: Implement Digital Sobriety by Curbing Video Consumption

To wrap up Earth month, the last week focused on educating everyone about reducing video streaming with some startling consumption comparisons that are hard to believe.  In 2018, online video viewing generated more than 300 MtCO2. That’s more than the energy consumption of Spain (291 MtCO2 in 2018) or if everyone in the world visited the Nexthink website this year (609 tCO2).

Participation this week was at 60%, with 75% of people selecting the correct answer.

Summary & Initial Results: Were We Able to Lower Our Corporate Carbon Footprint?

Each question and challenge was designed to quantify how simple actions could add up to make a big difference. All of the questions and carbon emission comparisons were carefully researched, calculated, and specifically crafted to be relatable. We wanted to help everyone begin the process of rethinking our daily technology usage and adopt more mindful habits to lower our environmental impact at work and at home.

Shutting down devices at the end of the day makes total sense, but we often forget or are reluctant to close browser sessions and documents for fear of losing our place and having to start fresh the next day.

Sometimes it’s easier to send an email attachment rather than setting up a link to share, and it’s hard to remember to make time to clean up our file storage. But by sharing relevant equivalencies of carbon emissions, we hoped to inspire our employees to change their daily habits and lower their overall carbon footprint.

So, were we successful?

Perhaps the greatest success story of this campaign was the employee engagement. Our global participation ranged from 60 – 80%, suggesting that our employees really care about the environment and want to know how they can reduce their carbon footprint. But did we have any measurable reduction in carbon emissions?

It’s important to establish a baseline, and the more data you have, the more relevant the results will be.   IT collected a few weeks of data related to usage and consumption so we knew what our employee’s current usage was and could then measure and compare the before and after.

Now for those results.

After the first week of the challenge, we saw a 10% reduction in uptime. Now, two months after that first week of the challenge, we’ve seen a sustained 12% reduction in uptime for our employees’ devices. More employees shut down their devices at the end of the day, resulting in a temporary reduction in carbon emissions. But can we sustain it?

If employees continued to have a 10% reduction in uptime over the course of an entire year, Nexthink could save 5.2kg of CO2 per year*, the equivalent of driving a car 27,000km (or almost 17,000 miles).

The other three questions had less of a measurable impact in the immediate. For example, week four reflected a decrease in video streaming volumes, then it returned closer to the baseline. We are still exploring hypotheses for why this might be, as we dig into and plan future green IT campaigns. Each of these topics requires consistent and deliberate action to change behavior. We believe, more noticeable results will require more time. Our Greenthinkers team is strategizing ways to encourage these sustainable behavior changes without compromising employee engagement.

Free Report: What 3.5 Million PCs Revealed about e-Waste in Corporate IT

Employees that choose to change technology consumption behavior will be the ultimate secret sauce in company-wide Green-IT initiatives to lower carbon emissions from technology use, contributing to the world’s urgent mission to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.  Governments, Corporations, and each and every one of us will need to work together to achieve these lofty goals.

The Nexthink solution drove amazing participation, making this first eco-friendly educational campaign this year a great success! Stay tuned as we look for more ways to engage employees and promote environmentally sustainable practices that benefit our people, and our planet!

Nexthink Greenthinkers

*Calculations of carbon emissions vary by country depending on energy mix; this number represents an estimate based on Nexthink’s global employee base.