by Vince Digneo, Sustainability Strategist, Adobe
Submitted by Adobe
As people around the globe continue to deal with the impact of our current crisis, it’s understandable that the 50th anniversary of Earth Day isn’t making as much front-page news. However, I’d argue that it’s critical for business decision makers to accelerate the move toward more sustainable practices, even now. This move has already started to take shape, with many people working from home and many businesses shifting from physical to digital overnight.
I’ve learned firsthand that every action we take as leaders impacts the world around us, and in times of turmoil we’re always presented with opportunities to improve upon the status quo. In workplaces everywhere, traditional practices that seemed logical two months ago — commuting to the office, attending in-person meetings, and exchanging physical documents — are now simply unachievable. Where possible, replacing physical with digital has become the new reality, and in turn is allowing everyone to operate more sustainably. We didn’t choose to flip that switch, but now that it’s flipped, workers who are able to continue along that path should continue for the foreseeable future.
The proving ground for new ways of working
We’re currently living in a global experiment. Companies that can support alternative, flexible, work situations are enabling employees to spend more time at home with their families, and less time in traffic. And, as long as the work gets done from home, it’s hard for anyone to argue with that outcome. With Acrobat, you can send a PDF for e-signature and get it back in far less time than it would have taken you to drive to the customer. We all want to see our colleagues in person again, and we will get there, but why should we revert back to paper, ink, and travel for every single one of our business transactions?
While many businesses have been using digital documents, online transactions, and e-signatures for years, technologies like these have suddenly become mission-critical in industries from healthcare to retail, dining, and finance. The current situation has simply brought the need for digital solutions to the forefront, highlighting the absurdity of many outdated processes and office-centric rituals — especially when considered through the lens of sustainability.
This new normal has also proven, beyond a doubt, that many office workers (but certainly not all) can carry out the vast majority of their daily business functions remotely. Is this a turning point in how people will work moving forward? When current restrictions ease, decision makers will have a working proof of concept for the remote workplace, making it difficult to revert back to the old way of doing things without reevaluating every policy, and crunching every number.
A lasting legacy of sustainability
In many ways, agility and resilience are one and the same. In a future where more business takes place digitally, at a pace the paper world simply can’t match, our collective workforce can remain effective, and even boost productivity. And, in the long term, agile measures like these will reduce an organization’s overall environmental impact — helping create a smart, and sustainable, future for the world we all share.