How can virtual training help to reduce your carbon footprint?

Image of a blue sky with the word 'CO2' spelled out in the form of clouds representing our 'carbon footprint.'

The pressure is on for companies to reduce their carbon footprint due to rising global carbon emissions and create a sustainable business, especially since the introduction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals initiative in 2015. Many businesses rightly take this to mean they need to scrutinise their supply chains or rework their business strategy in order to meet the rising pressures from both – the government and the public. But what if there were other effective ways to reduce your carbon cost?

Virtual training takes all the elements of a face-to-face (F2F) classroom-style approach and transforms it into a coach-led, live and online training workshop, using a platform such as WebEx or Microsoft Teams.

4 ways that virtual training can help reduce your carbon footprint

There are four ways to reduce your carbon footprint that can be achieved using virtual training:

1. No travel

We’ve all been there. You’ve got a training session to attend at the head office, which means an early start and travelling long distances to attend a half/one day workshop. Or worse, queuing for hours on the motorway, suffering “dead” time you could be using elsewhere. Even then we should consider the pollution that we are pumping into the air while crawling along.

According to Cindy Hugget’s 2019 State of virtual training report, 81% of organisations who are choosing to embrace virtual training are doing so in order to save money on travel costs. But what about saving carbon?

More companies are building carbon reduction goals around travel, but until now, this has been largely targeted at the transport linked to their supply chains. Many are looking at environment friendly alternatives, encouraging recycling and promoting car shares/’bike to work’ schemes. But what about external requirements, when they need to go to places for other official purposes?

We predict that soon companies will be targeted, (and potentially taxed) on their carbon usage. Non-essential travel is a quick win area, easily removed or minimised. In switching to virtual training, your learning programmes can still be delivered in fun and engaging ways, but at a fraction of the carbon cost to the environment.

2. Save on paper

Many trainers love a flip chart. It’s traditional, creative, visual and replaceable. Interestingly, virtual training uses digital whiteboards, digital post-its and all the delivery platforms have brilliant annotation tools. This means we can replicate what happens in a traditional F2F environment but without flipping the chart paper in a virtual learning environment. In Virtual Workshops, handouts are interactive PDFs which learners type their notes directly onto, saving paper and print. This all adds up to big carbon savings that are usually generated in traditional learning classrooms.

A client of ours equips their learners with iPads to use, pre-loaded with electronic handouts. Once the session concludes, the learners email themselves the notes they’ve made, thereby retaining all their thoughts from the session (and saving paper and print).

3. Reduced cost

Recently, we heard about a company conference where the hotel laid on a fabulous lunch for attendees, which unfortunately resulted in mountains of uneaten food and piles of discarded, single-use paper cups. This was contrary to what the company had promoted previously.

Learners are still going to be eating and drinking when working from home or participating in a virtual training session, but the amount of wasted resources is significantly less. A study found that the UK wastes £13billion worth of food every year. If learners use their own plates and mugs and only prepare food that they intend to eat, perhaps we can make a difference to this figure.

If your learners take responsibility for their own catering, when working and learning from home, there will be far less wastage and carbon cost. That’s one of the biggest advantages of virtual learning.

4. No affiliated resource use

Going paper-less is important. Printing takes up an enormous amount of energy and carbon usage. 500 printed sheets of the paper produce approx. 2.08kgs of CO2 – that’s the same as a 13 Watt CF lightbulb being lit continuously for 6 and a half days!

According to Lexmark’s survey findings in Europe, an office worker on an average uses 10,000 printed pages per year. Nearly one fifth are printed needlessly. The CO2 created from these unnecessary pages weighs almost 7.2kgs.

Training folders, handouts and posters printed for programmes use unnecessary resources i.e. paper and plastic. Virtual training mitigates all of this as it uses digital handouts, digital flip charts and other digital resources minimising carbon usage whilst providing the same learning experience.

Final thoughts

Carbon usage is our planet-wide problem and must be tackled by us all, individuals and businesses alike. Investing in virtual training provides the opportunity to mitigate the big carbon impactors traditional classroom training causes, reducing your carbon footprint.

Are you aware of your carbon costs? Would you use virtual training to reduce them?

Check out how we can help you move some of your traditional classroom training to a virtual one or contact us directly for a chat.

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