I Think We Thought This Would Be Easy

by crystal wilson

 FLOW is a virtual company. And as we have mentioned before, we are intent on doing more good than bad for our environment. When we started out on this virtual journey, we thought "This is great! We are already doing so much good - we are reducing daily commutes, saving energy by not having a big office space, and we are printing on recycled paper to boot!" But now, two years later, we have found that although each of those things is fantastic, and obviously contribute to our goal of being environmentally sustainable, we cannot simply stop there. Sustainability is not something that is ever finished, or perfected - there is always room for improvement. But how do you improve when your "office spaces" are actually private residences, and when carpooling to meetings just doesn't cut it anymore?

We were feeling pretty alone in this dilemma (especially after taking the B Impact Assessment through B-Lab and realizing the sustainability related questions were VERY difficult to answer due to our virtual status) until we came across the ladies from Flipside - another Canadian B Corp which recently took on a project they are calling "The Office Schmoffice Experiment". What that means is that they are giving virtual a try, and made a request for other virtual companies to share some ideas about building in sustainability practices when working in this way. We jumped on the opportunity to put our thinking caps on alongside some other creative women, and what we came away from the call with was nothing short of inspiring - we learned that they haven't figured it all out either! And neither have many other virtual workers! Even better though was the discovery that we have not been giving ourselves enough credit - of course we have a long way to go, but we have implemented some great practices over the last two years. By the end of the call we had shared some ideas together about what sustainability can look like in the world of virtual work. Take a look and let us know if your team has tried any of these. If so, what have the results been like?

  • Encourage team members to bike, walk, use public transit, or carpool when they need to travel.
  • Support team members who are taking steps to improve the impact of their home by allowing them to share about their journey, and cheer them on.
  • Require home-owning team members to submit their homes to an energy audit, similar to this one that is offered in Guelph.
  • Use environmental stewardship as a team building opportunity. This could look like our tree planting day, or could be a garbage walk or river clean up.
  • SHARE! Does every member of your staff need to own a panini press? Probably not! Share that baby around! Host a team clothing swap! The options here are pretty much limitless and will go miles toward helping your team grow closer together.
  • When you meet in coffee shops or restaurants (because we KNOW you do!) choose them carefully. Frequent establishments with a commitment to fair trade products and environmentally responsible practices.

Has your virtual team tried any of these suggestions? What were the results? What would you add to this list?