To actively work for a more sustainable future is as important as ever. Where virtual meetings can play a role by helping decrease business travel and its environmental impact.
Business travel can oftentimes be one of the largest ways that companies emit carbon. PwC UK, for example, sees that business travel is their “single largest source of carbon emissions”, at around 90 % of their “reduced carbon footprint” (for 2019). And while this number is certainly that high as a result of the company lowering their carbon footprint overall and in areas such as Energy, it does point to the large role business travel can play in a company’s carbon emissions.
This is something that PwC UK seem very aware of, and they have an ambitious goal “to reduce carbon emissions from business travel (tonnes CO2 e) by 33% per FTE”. This by 2022, and with a number of programs/strategies to make it happen. One of which is “alternatives to travel”, where they explain that “the simplest way to cut emissions caused by travel is to avoid it”, noting that “technology can help us to connect with clients and colleagues effectively”.
This suggests a potential strategy for decreasing the need for business travel: to use the available technology and hold meetings virtually, something that can be done without losing ground or sales opportunies. This, as meetings with customers and prospects can take place without having to physically travel to the customers, and as modern, digital tools built for this purpose can offer ways to bridge the physical distance. With select functionality that works to ensure that you can pitch and sell just as well as in the physical room (though, the digital nature of the virtual meeting will mean that the approach, set-up and content will need to be adjusted to fit the format).
The pandemic, and after
The time may never have been better to actively work for a sustainable future, by limiting business travel in favor of meeting virtually. We have, after all, been living in a pandemic where travelling has been out the question, and where we’ve had to learn and adapt to the virtual room that came to replace the physical. And while the pandemic has certainly been terrible, it has given us the chance to get used to virtual on an unprecedented scale. I.e. we’ve come to understand that we don’t have to be in the same physical place to, for example, make a sale. Something that was underlined in a recent Fast Company article where they, among others, talked to Stefan Gössling. A researcher and professor who led a 2020 study in the area of global airtravel and environmental consequences.
“To Gössling, the pandemic pulled back the curtain on how much of business travel is really necessary,” they write. “In the before-times, “People would tell their bosses, ‘Oh I’ve got to fly again because otherwise I’m not really sure we’ll get the deal.’ At the end of the day, maybe that was not really true…”
A valid point that, we believe, underlines how we don’t have to lose out just because we’re not in the same room – and that we, throughout the past year, have come to realize this as true. When we’ve come to understand that digital selling actually comes with a number of new opportunities; driven by new tools to enable sellers and the changes in buyer behavior.
Meaning that we may not want to go back to the way we travelled for business in the past, as we can gain ground and grow sales remotely. Working toward a more sustainable future in the process.