Going green: an unexpected benefit of the pandemic
It’s a year since the WHO announced that: “COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.” It’s been a long 12 month ever since, and only now can the UK look ahead and see some light at the end of the vaccination tunnel.
However, there have been some unexpected benefits to our environment, especially through the first lockdown and afterwards when so many of us continued working from home. Managing Director Rita Gupta explores the unexpected “greening” of LGFL.
As a busy family law firm, we realised by mid-March 2020 that we would need to change our working practices, and quickly. With help from our expert IT partners, we switched from a fully staffed, office-dwelling, paper-based family law firm to a remote working, paperless practice. We had planned to phase out paper over a period of months; instead, we went paperless in just two days.
Remote paperless has the following benefits:
- We don’t shred so much paper, saving energy
- We don’t print so much, so more energy saved
- Physical files don’t have to be stored
In addition, we recycle wherever we can, including re-using our non-confidential paperwork.
Cutting the commute
Switching to remote working in just four days also had the major benefit of eliminating four sets of commutes at a stroke. Our countryside offices are a great place to work, but they are not easily accessible by public transport.
- With four cars parked on our own drives all day, we cut down our work-based travel emissions considerably.
- We didn’t need to heat, cool or light our offices, reducing energy consumption.
- We invested in new computers and equipment for remote working which are more energy efficient, and recycled the old equipment.
Less trips to court
The justice system had been introducing remote hearings using video before the pandemic started, so courts were able to implement a move to remote hearings very quickly. This drastically reduced the number of visits to court in Reading required by our two Directors, and this too contributed to reducing LGFL’s carbon footprint and emissions.
Better gardens for better health
Like so many households with a garden, the LGFL team found themselves enjoying their own home patch of greenery much more. Lockdown saw a massive increase in garden usage and planting, with a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) survey finding that 48% of people with a garden spent more time in it during the spring 2020. The benefits were clear, as the RHS Director of Science and Collections, Professor Alistair Griffiths described:
“(Just) adding a few plants to a bare front garden reduces stress levels by as much as eight mindfulness sessions.”
Green space around our offices
We always knew that being in offices surrounded by greenery and lawns helped our clients relax, and space the ability to ‘take a breather’ from meetings or mediation if required. Dr Ross Cameron of the University of Sheffield, part of the RHS survey team, noted how:
“Gardening and ready access to green space are vital components in relieving stress and promoting positive mental health in our urban communities.”
Keeping fit at our desks
For our health-conscious team, the closure of our local gyms disrupted our normal fitness routines considerably. Whilst we replaced static bikes with real ones, and ran on paths rather than treadmills, we were also aware of just how much time we spent sitting down all day. As part of a move to break up our more sedentary working, LGFL bought under desk pedal exercisers for all staff so we can cycle and work at the same time.
Keeping it local
At LGFL, we’ve always used local suppliers and companies for our outsourced services, from virtual VAs to our social media team. Many of them were already working remotely, so we simply switched their regular in-person meetings to online video conferencing through Zoom. This is turn cut down their carbon footprint by eliminating journeys to see us (and reduced calories too without access at meetings to our normal chocolate biscuit selection!).
Peace and quiet (almost)
As a parent, I like so many others found it hard to juggle home schooling with my work as a busy family lawyer. There were many evenings spent working late to catch up, and early mornings before sunrise spent preparing for remote court hearings that started much earlier than before.
However, there were also those exceptional moments where I stepped outside and relished the peace and quiet created by almost no traffic, far less construction activity and people staying at home. Some mornings it was so peaceful you could almost hear the planet breathing a sigh of relief. It made me determined to try and lessen LGFL’s environmental impact even further.
More eco-friendly in 2021
So, LGFL aims to be even more eco-friendly in 2021. We have a more flexible and adaptable mindset towards change, enabling us to adopt new working practices quickly. Our latest innovation is to use online transcription to capture notes from client meetings, reducing the need for paper notes, misunderstandings and cutting down on subsequent phone calls. We can now transcribe conversations at the click of a button, and store the results digitally.
It is this kind of innovation and rapid adoption of new working practices that has opened up our boutique family law services to a much wider, remote client base. The fact that these changes have also helped our environment both locally and nationally is a source of pride, and we will continue to seek out new ways to work better and “greener” moving ahead.
If you have any suggestions on green business solutions that have had a positive impact of your business, do let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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