Green IT: How Experience Can Influence Positive Change for our Planet

At the time of writing, the UK is going through a considerable heatwave, with the temperature record broken for the second time in 4 years as areas of the UK reached 40C. According to the UN’s climate science body, we’re currently living in the ‘hottest period for 125,000 years’ as stated by BBC’s climate editor, Justin Rowlett, in a recent article. Digital technology is a large contributor of global carbon emissions, and with the current and ongoing discussions around climate change, we need to ask, how can utilising digital employee experience help us influence positive change for our planet?

Working from home

In a recent Nexthink article, they demonstrate the case for engaging employees in strategies to reduce their carbon footprint. Nexthink ran a campaign to ask and educate their employees around factors such as shutting down devices after a working day and the effect of having 100gb of space taken up in OneDrive on CO2 levels. The campaign showed levels of success, as the overall uptime for devices lowered by 10%. What was really successful in this campaign was the levels of engagement, with 60% - 80% of employees globally taking part. This goes to show that the willingness is there to change our behaviour and habits towards this important issue.


Indeed, Nexthink points out a number of ways in which enhancing digital employee experience can support Green IT initiatives. From avoiding needless spending on energy consuming devices and unused servers, being able to monitor energy consumption across the IT ecosystem, and influencing behavioural change as we've discussed. All can be influenced through digital employee experience and is available as its own dedicated Green IT Nexthink package. If we're enabled to make more informed decisions, and listen, engage and educate our employees, we have the opportunity to lessen our impact on the climate.


The Bright Horse Experience

Using Nexthink, we discovered that most of the printing going on for one of our customers was being carried out on machines with a single screen. People who had access to two or more screens were noticeably performing fewer printing tasks. In other words, users with double screens or more are not printing as much. This is understandable; with a plethora of work and collaboration tools, multiple screens have almost become a necessity. Multiple screens removes the need to jump between multiple applications: an irritating activity that can induce headaches, so it makes sense to print out an application window that is not needed in real time. Indeed, Jon Peddie Research found that on average productivity increased by 42% for individuals working with 2 monitors. Moreover, the emphasis on documents going digital is often portrayed as a green initiative, however, as an article in The Guardian discusses, the research to support this may not be as strong as we think.


Initially, it would seem double screens are the greener approach as the continual flow of paper pages being printed is a tangible representation of the trees required to produce it, not to mention the resources required to run a printer. However, it presents its own problems. The resource cost of manufacturing and operating two screens is likely to be equally as impactful as printing multiple pages throughout the week. In addition, paper is a more recyclable commodity, The Guardian points out, with increasing amounts of e-waste being accumulated in countries such as India. Illegal dumping from areas across the globe has also created a large swath of e-waste in Ghana. Add in recent statistics that tree planting had increased in area of the US while green paperless initiatives are more likely to be motivated by profit than planet and its clear to see the debate is far from over.


As well as the green issue, as an employee experience company we also asked ourselves what gives the better experience. It would appear that individuals with only 1 screen were not having a good experience if they felt the need to consistently print and possibly clutter their workspace. It would indicate they need to work with multiple applications but do not want to keep switching tabs on their device. Having double screens saves time from printing and stress from a disorganised workspace. However, we shouldn’t assume. The indication of someone printing a lot on one screen does not necessarily mean that they would want multiple screens to work with.


In order to understand what our employees want and need, we of course need to ask. Ask your employees how they feel about their printing usage or how they feel about working with 1 screen. Do they find it more comfortable to print pages and work in that manner, or would they prefer multiple screens to provide some level of convenience and organisation? All experiences are valid; two people may have different ways of reaching the same outcome that works for their wants and needs. The validity lies in the context and past experiences of the employee, and employers should be as flexible as they can to their wants and needs. There is ultimately no answer at this time as to what the better experience would be. Experience is constantly shifting and based upon our personal beliefs and values. More data is needed to make a conclusion and a big way we can work towards this is by connecting with our employees.


The discussion of the article surrounds one of the many, and as you can surmise, wide-ranging pieces of data that be gathered via Nexthink. If you’d like to learn more about Nexthink, as well how we at Bright can support you with Nexthink, do not hesitate to contact us.


Sources

Amos, O. and Durbin, A., 2022. UK heatwave: Country may have hottest day on record with 41C forecast. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-62201793 Accessed: July 2022.


Cacciola, M., 2022. How Nexthink Focused on Employee Engagement to Lower Our Corporate Carbon Footprint. [online] Nexthink. Available at: https://www.nexthink.com/blog/lower-corporate-carbon-footprint/ Accessed: July 2022.


Hirsch, A., 2013. 'This is not a good place to live': inside Ghana's dump for electronic waste. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/14/ghana-dump-electronic-waste-not-good-place-live Accessed: July 2022.


Jon Peddie Research, 2017. Jon Peddie Research: Multiple Displays can Increase Productivity by 42%. [online] JPR Available at: https://www.jonpeddie.com/press-releases/jon-peddie-research-multiple-displays-can-increase-productivity-by-42/ Accessed: July 2022.


Moodie, A., 2014. Is digital really greener than paper? [online ] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/digital-really-greener-paper-marketing Accessed: July 2022.


Nexthink, n.d. Green IT and Digital Employee Experience. [online] Nexthink. Available at: https://www.nexthink.com/resource/green-it-infographic/ Accessed: July 2022.