When we set this business up, one of our guiding principles was that we should run it sustainably as possible.
Last year's developments in the cost of fossil fuel plus the ever increasing emphasis on sustainable behaviour in government tendering - and so into the main corporate supply chains - means that we all have to be aware of how we can both improve our brand image and reduce costs by addressing sustainable business..
While we do not consider ourselves to be professional environmental advisers we are living through a lot of these change issues ourselves and believe that we can add a useful sustainability perspective into our other activities.
We do have long experience of flexible and remote working (as workwise advisers and long time pioneers) in this area. So if you want to use ICT to be greener in your behaviour we can help.
Beyond that the Trading side of our business is increasingly leading us towards sustainability. The largest individual part of our business sells plants on-line. Expanding this side of the business led us to acquire a disused nursery with 2 acres of glasshouse. Over the last 2 years we have been renovating this space. Because its no longer practical to heat these, we have been using them to grow organic vegetables and flowers.
In September we achieved full Soil Association accredited status. We've also started to sell biological controls to deal with slugs, vine weevils and aphids and are currently developing a plan to switch from paraffin to sustainable wood fired boilers and to recycle a substantial part of the rainwater. Finally we're investigating how permaculture can be applied to the rest of the site.
So we find ourselves in our usual position of having to learn on the job. What we've become good at is turning our experiences into training materials so watch this space.
At present the main help we can give you is in remote working advice and supply of the MegaMeetings video conferencing system and with developing the environmental policies you need to bid for government contracts. In 18 months time however, we may be able to offer you some insights into running a sustainable business including management of waste and sourcing of sustainable packaging - all issues that are very much live ones for us.
Managing remote working
Setting up the technology toolkit is relatively straightforward. It's clear that there is a real time advantage of working collaboratively with people who don't have to travel and with the current real energy based pressures to more sustainable working there are really good reasons for moving towards remote and flexible working. We are accredited workwise advisers who are able to help managers choose solutions, justify their decisions and manage the implementation.
There is still a lot of resistance - mainly from managers who like to see people working. As always - it's the people issues that hold back the potential of IT. But if BT can do it - so can you.
In practice you need to be able to set clear targets of what you expect them to do, and make sure that you keep in contact with them. The tools are readily available, but it needs discipline on the side of the manager to work at engaging the remote staff by phone, videoconference and extranet. The traditional "broadcast" approach of tools like Microsoft Sharepoint has been supplemented by online communities such as Ning which allow purpose built communities for mutual support and discussion. We use it to support our alumni of th Punch Above Your Weight programme.
If you need help with setting up or managing a distance or flexible working programme we may be able to help. Please call us to discuss your needs.
Why we can help you
Unusually for a consultancy company we practice what we preach. We have 25 years experience of running growth businesses in IT, Business Training, Internet trading and horticulture. Currently we run a £0.5 Million internet trading company - Plants4Presents - and a 10 employee Organic Vegetable Business. These give us a real-life basis for our consultancy and training business that underpins our research into how companies actually use IT to promote themselves and improve performance as they grow.
As part of this experience Alan set up and ran the Executive Studio - a purpose built flexible and knowledge based working environment in West London which ran from 1997 to 2006. We worked flexibly using laptops and docking stations. He says "I used to work standing at a high level desk although I never cracked the trick of working without paper."
Currently we work in association with a number of other companies using these remote collaboration tools of skype, Basecamp, MegaMeetings and Ning to carry out research, content development and consultancy projects. You can read some of the ideas from these early adopters at our collaborative blog DrBollocks.com.
Contact - To discuss how we can help with your business growth or marketing ring 0845 094 0407