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How digitising employee training can reduce your company's carbon footprint

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Cynthia Halatyn

Environmental sustainability is a pressing social issue for organisations and individuals alike. Businesses and governments are strengthening commitments and financial investments to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. In June of this year, the UK pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. This commitment will, undoubtedly, impact businesses of all sizes and industries around the country. 

Corporations have begun shifting environmental initiatives away from corporate social responsibility statements and folding them into the core business strategy, with positive financial outcomes. The pressures to consider environmental impact come not only from government stakeholders, but also from shareholders, employees and consumers. Globally, as many as 81% of consumers now expect companies to take an active role in improving the environment.  

Waste reduction and digital learning

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Junction-18 Head of Learning Design, Luke Merricktaught a webinar recently on how the principles of zero waste can be applied to digital learning design, but what you might not have considered is that digital learning can also be an effective tool for businesses seeking to reduce their overall carbon footprint. HR Directors who approach Junction-18 are often seeking to digitise corporate training libraries as part a broader digital transformation strategy and view the sustainability advantages as a peripheral benefit rather than a primary driver of decision-making.  

The environmental impact of corporate learning

Traditional, classroom-based corporate training requires air and road travel for the trainers, employees, and managers. Human resources departments have to print bulky training manuals and any associated testing materials in addition to securing conference and training spaces that require lighting and heating. For large corporations that conduct frequent onboarding or training dictated by changing legislation, the associated resources represent a significant contribution to the organisation's overall carbon footprint.

In a white paper from Epic Performance Improvement, it was calculated that restructuring a 2-day corporate classroom training to an 80% online format resulted in a 65% reduction in carbon emissions.

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Digital learning itself can also be a powerful medium through which to educate your employees about sustainability issues and the positive actions that they can take as individuals in order to reduce waste within your organisation.

In a recent project with NATS, the UK’s largest provider of air traffic control services, Junction-18 reduced 2 days of face-to-face training to just 6 hours of interactive online training for users to complete at home. The passage rate of the theory examination also increased to 100%. This programme eliminated the need for trainees all over the UK to travel to a designated classroom centre.

Of course, digital learning can’t entirely negate the environmental impact of organisational learning. For example, operating a games-based training programme requires employees to use computers, but for many businesses, employees already use computers daily as part of the responsibilities of their position, so time spent training on a computer may not represent a significant increase in energy use. 

Here at Junction-18, we are mindful of our own environmental impact. More than half our employees work remotely at least one day a week, reducing emissions associated with commuting. We also conduct as many project progress meetings with clients via video conference as is feasible in order to avoid unnecessary travel.  

If your business is serious about reducing its carbon footprint, it is worth considering how digital learning can contribute to that goal and Junction-18 can help. We design digital learning environments across all industries and topics to keep your employees engaged and can help you reduce or eliminate the amount of classroom training and travel that is associated with your corporate learning. Contact us today to see demos of our work and learn more.