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Join the movement that’s going nowhere!

From the northern Indian state of Punjab, people are in awe at the sight of the Himalayan mountain range, which is now visible from more than 100 miles away due to the reduction in air pollution caused by the country’s Coronavirus lockdown.

In Venice, water in the canals is running clear, offering glimpses of fish swimming against the current. In New York City, carbon monoxide levels are half those during the corresponding period last year, according to researchers at Columbia University.

Many people, at least throughout the world’s most developed economies, are reporting personal experiences of clearer skies at night, bird song and nature that feels richer. Even where I live in the English Cotswolds, which is already a protected area of outstanding natural beauty, wildlife, skies and air are all relishing this break from traffic, noise and pollution.

Scientists and environmentalists are stunned at how rapidly the beneficial effects of this unplanned cessation of “normality” have kicked in.

And we are now asking what the exit plans are from the period of lockdown and what the “new normal” will look like. This creates, for every company and organization, a window of opportunity right now to design and plan the changes you want to make in how your organization (irrespective of size) wants to work.

An invitation

This is an invitation to show your support for ongoing reductions in work travel by joining the DWG Work Miles Movement.

This will have a positive impact on the climate through reduced levels of work travel including commuting and ensure that 2020 is not a blip but a sustained pattern for this decade and beyond.

How wonderful would that feel to you personally and your organization?

As a leading specialist in air pollution, Paul Monks (former chair of the UK government’s science advisory committee and now Head of the College of Science and Engineering at University of Leicester) has said: “We are conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen. We are looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy. Not to denigrate the loss of life but this should give us hope to see what can be achieved.”

And as François Gemenne of the University of Liège in Belgium puts it: “The climate needs a sustained drop in greenhouse-gas emissions, not a year off.”

So here is what I, as CEO and Founder of Digital Workplace Group (DWG), have committed my own company to do from now on.

At DWG we have committed to a Work Miles Budget for 2020 (and beyond). We are taking our estimate of how much travel we as a company carried out for work in 2019. This means miles travelled including commuting, between leaving home and returning each day, through 2019 for every person in the company.

In our 100-person company, we already have the advantage of no physical offices and so start with a baseline of far less travel than most typical companies, but nevertheless we have committed to set our 2020 Work Miles Budget at 50% of the 2019 number – and then to reduce that by a minimum 5% year on year.

For example, even a reduction of 5% year on year, means one trip or commute in every 20 is replaced with working locally or from home and/or via online meetings. How hard is that?

Now consider the non-climate related benefits:

  • We have seen that technology has allowed millions to work from home in ways often considered impossible, so we have already experienced that alternate ways of working without travel are viable. And remember, the kids won’t be at home for ever!
  • Less travel and commuting enables a better work/life balance for staff and promotes better health, which means better productivity and less time off for sickness.
  • You will save a lot of money. Your people will save money themselves through fewer travel costs and as a company your travel budgets will fall. That’s a cost saving immediately and over time.
  • Sadly, in the post COVID-19 world, travel for work will itself come with a great level of health safety concerns and therefore the less people travel, the safer we each and as organizations will be.

Why set your Work Miles Budget now?

Think of your Work Miles Budget just as you do your financial budget. You already set financial budgets each year and can’t spend money you don’t have.

So, each year – starting now even – you will set the overall company-wide Work Miles Budget and then, as with finance today, this gets broken down to business unit, service, team and individual levels.

Join the DWG Work Miles Movement

DWG wants organizations and employees all around the world to commit to reducing their travel, in a similar way to DWG, to create the sustainable world we all want environmentally.

To make this happen, we need you, as individuals, to show your support and join the DWG Work Miles Movement. The more people (and organizations) who join, the more we can demonstrate the global appetite for change. And this is where DWG can use its voice to influence the decision-makers – every mile saved makes a difference.

Be part of the Launch Session

We will be arranging a launch session for those who want to join, to share ideas with each other, resolve questions together and ensure we move with momentum and enthusiasm.

Afterwards we will all wonder why we ever waited until 2020 to make this change. And you can say proudly: “I was part of a movement that’s going (almost) nowhere!”

About the author

Paul Miller is CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG). He is a business and social entrepreneur. His latest book, The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future (co-authored with Elizabeth Marsh), was shortlisted for the Management Book of the Year 2016 Award. Paul’s previous book, The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work, helped to popularize and explain the term “digital workplace”. Paul has given many inspirational talks on the digital future of work, for audiences at Microsoft, IKEA, Google, Accenture, Harvard Business Review, Cisco, European Commission, IMF, Adobe and Oxford University. He hosts the Digital Workplace Impact podcast.

Paul was ranked one of the world’s Top 50 Social Employee Advocacy Leaders in 2015. For many years he hosted the pioneering internet radio show Digital Workplace Live and is Executive Producer of the 24-hour global digital experience Digital Workplace 24. Prior to founding DWG, Paul was Founder and CEO of communications company The Empowerment Group; Publisher and Editor of social and digital innovation magazine “Wave”; and, in pre-internet days, co-founder of the Ideas Café salon. He lives in the Cotswolds in the UK.

See more about Paul Miller on Wikipedia

Connect with Paul on Twitter: @paulmillersays

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