Telnet’s action on climate change

We’ve talked a lot about the advantages to Telnet of having a distributed workforce since Covid-19 gave us the nudge we needed to make this a comprehensive change to our business model. We had a small but successful group of homeworkers augmenting our 150+ desk Contact Centre for some time – so the technology side of this shift was already proven.
The weather events New Zealand has seen over the past month has vindicated this paradigm shift: for every worker who lost power or internet, there was generally another in a less affected area who could step in to answer calls. However, these events have also brought a renewed focus on a bigger topic: Climate Change.

Clearly, extreme weather events which used to be called “1 in 100 year events” are likely to happen more often. Although businesses have been examining their Carbon Footprint for a while, and taking action to help our nation, and the globe, meet reduced carbon emission targets, we can expect Global Warming to remain a ‘hot’ topic for a while to come.

Three years ago Telnet Services had two large open plan offices with hundreds of desktop PCs, lighting, heating and cooling and amenities on, all day every day. The sites had extensive car parking, and although they were near public transport hubs, the carparks and surrounding streets filled up with staff vehicles each day. All this was supported by server farms and big UPS generators.

Today, we’ve downsized to a modest CBD office space with just a few admin staff. The space has much smaller heating/cooling/lighting related emissions, and is no longer needing to be open 24/7. At the same time, our business has become more scalable – resources are only releasing carbon when they’re needed – not sitting idle waiting for calls.

All our customer communication channels are managed in the ‘cloud’ and delivered to agents working from home. Most of the carbon emissions associated with a large team commuting to work are gone. This is the single biggest change to our Carbon Footprint; transport accounts for 30-40% of carbon emissions for most Kiwis. Our Work-From-Home model introduces other lower carbon outcomes: some staff have solar panels (one or two are completely off-grid) and their computers and amenities are not operating 24/7. Our consumption of paper and ink has reduced dramatically – we have digital solutions in place for almost all data and document sharing across the business.

Face to face meetings with clients are now rare, so the carbon emission reductions extend to our clients too. Our account Management generates significantly fewer “airmiles” than five years ago.

Many of those clients are as passionate about reducing their Carbon Emissions as we are, and appreciate that Telnet’s overall smaller Carbon Footprint helps those businesses and organisations when measuring their own total carbon emissions. Some would say this dialogue is happening far too late: we’ve been talking about this a long time but New Zealand still has amongst the highest carbon emissions per capita (albeit resulting in a tiny output compared to the largest emitters). The extreme weather events battering our small nation over the last couple of months are bringing this dialogue to the forefront – it’s clear we ignore this issue at our peril.

Written by David Stott