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Thursday, August 22, 2019

There’s no place like home for curbing carbon

St. Jacobs marketing company lets workers telecommute Wednesdays to help reduce its ecological footprint

In response to a growing climate change problem, a St. Jacobs-based marketing firm is taking action to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment.

Quarry has made environmentally conscious decisions in the past, including purchasing reusable dishes for employees instead of paper plates, encouraging recycling, and reducing their garbage output by 60 per cent. Managing director Tony Mohr said it has long been a critical issue for the firm.

“We need to be taking this not as just a political issue but a human crisis that requires a response from all of us,” said Mohr.

So their newest sustainable initiative involves staff working remotely from home weekly on Wednesdays. It will remove almost 100 vehicles from the road and reduce commuting emissions by an estimated 185,500 kilometres a year. It began last week and will run as a six-month trial.

“So one of the considerations was making sure that this was going to work for the team,” said Mohr. “We thought we would give people a sufficient window for them to be able to adapt.”

Other added bonuses of this initiative include saving energy costs on lights, printers, and reducing overall energy use. The company can also curb expenses on cleaning staff and courier pickups this way.

According to Quarry president Ken Whyte, the trial has been running relatively smoothly so far.

“I think generally people found, ‘wow, the day went by really quick,’” said Whyte. “You might think ‘I’m going to get bored after four or five hours on my own’ but it goes quickly, it slips by.”

Mohr added that a potential challenge is encouraging staff to be as productive as possible on days off. Other Quarry workers who are adjusted to working remotely were happy to give tips.

One example is maintaining a typical morning routine to help put staff in the working mindset. It is a significant change for employees, who were used to coming into work every Wednesday for years.

To collaborate effectively while working from home, employees use mediums such as Google for Business, Gmail, chat, and video conferencing to have a social watering hole to touch base with fellow employees.

The inspiration for the change came after Mohr heard a radio show warning that there is a decreasing amount of time to take action on climate change. Another factor was how individual contributions to improve the environment might feel small – the “drop in the bucket” effect – but when a collaborative, group effort is taken – with everyone working remotely on the same day – it can feel more significant.

Whyte said he hopes that these #CurbOurCarbon workdays will serve as a call to action for other organizations.

“Perhaps through our actions, there’s going to be other organizations that look at that and say ‘You know what? There’s something we can do,’” said Whyte. “Hopefully they can think about it and take some action. We do need to have collective action – that’s the only way we’re going to tackle this climate change.”

Of all the workdays to choose from, why Wednesday?

“What we were trying to align with was just a sense of people’s work rhythms and even our psychological or mental state when we’re coming into or leaving a workweek,” said Mohr. “So the selection of Wednesday was purposeful.

“There’s also just the awareness that if we made it on a Friday or Monday, it would potentially send a message that we’re encouraging extra long weekends, and that’s probably not in everybody’s best interest.”

Quarry specializes in business-to-business marketing, with a focus in the technology sector. Some 90 per cent of its clients are based in the United States.

Veronica Reiner
Veronica Reinerhttp://www.observerxtra.com
Veronica Reiner is a Reporter Photographer for The Observer.

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