Technology plays a critical role in maintaining and boosting productivity, as we have seen throughout the pandemic. However, moving forward, businesses need to make sure investing in new technology does not come at the cost of sustainability. Given the realities of our changing climate, it is essential that productivity and sustainability grow in tandem. Here are three ways businesses can invest in their growth and their sustainability.

#1: Use a Device Recycling Solution

E-waste (discarded electronic devices) accounts for 70 percent of global toxic waste, or more than 40 million tons of trash every year. In an increasingly digital world, it is necessary for companies to understand the impact of discarding their devices.

One way companies can limit toxic waste and optimize productivity is by finding a DaaS (device-as-a-service) provider. A DaaS provider helps in three key ways. First, they supply new mobile devices to companies. This limits issues associated with older, slower technology, like buffering and slow response times.

A DaaS provider supplying and delivering new devices also frees up staff to focus on their core duties. This means IT teams do not need to stand in as impromptu logistics departments, ordering, setting up, and shipping company devices. A DaaS provider handles all these tasks.

Finally, a DaaS provider also repurposes and recycles older devices. Let’s say a company uses a DaaS provider and requests iPhone 11s. After two years, this company wants to upgrade to the newest iPhone. The DaaS provider would deliver the new iPhones and take the old iPhone 11s, leasing them to another company that wants them.

Once devices are too old to use, DaaS providers can then recycle them. This cycle of repurposing and refurbishing helps extend the life of mobile technology, cutting down on e-waste.

#2: Shift Operations to the Cloud

Amid remote work, many companies contemplated migrating to the cloud. Doing so has two primary advantages:

  1. It reduces carbon emissions by more than 80 percent.
  2. It helps streamline tasks for work (finding internal documents, communicating with coworkers, etc.).

Realizing these benefits takes time, and there are three actions business leaders would be wise to consider. First, offer the necessary onboarding training for your employees. Effective training does not just contribute to maintaining workflows and productivity, it also determines the security of your cloud setup. Understanding your cloud solution reduces the odds hackers can infiltrate your company.

Second, prioritize security when evaluating cloud servers. Ensure the cloud server offers protections to its infrastructure. Additionally, consider the state of devices that your company uses. Using old technology that runs slowly or cannot handle security software updates endangers your company’s data. Before migrating to the cloud, make sure each of your employees has the technology they need.

Third, establish a realistic timeline. Reducing emissions is important. But a carefully planned implementation is far more beneficial to the environment than a rushed one. Consider software engineering. For certain programming techniques, companies can reduce their application energy by up to 50 times just by selecting the appropriate programming language.

When you carefully set up and evaluate your cloud migration, it enables you to think more deliberately about its benefits. Does it let you use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in your office? Are you using the right programming language? Can you configure your applications to the cloud? These questions—and their answers—will help you build the most sustainable cloud solution you can.

#3: Adopt Remote or Hybrid Work Models

Remote work has been a success. It has given professionals greater work-life balance and opened up talent pools for businesses to fill vacant positions. But remote work also contributes to sustainability. This is because it cuts down on commuting—transportation emissions decreased by 15 percent in 2020. And without the pressure of daily commutes, physical infrastructure, like streets and bridges, can last longer.

Remote work has also improved productivity—more than 50 percent of respondents in a 2021 survey said their organization exceeded productivity targets over the past year. As companies mull return-to-office plans, evaluate your operating model and how remote work changes it. Is it possible for you to offer remote work? How is IT affected? Do you have the necessary tools (like the cloud)?

If you cannot extend remote work opportunities, consider outfitting your office space with technology like IoT sensors to limit unnecessary energy consumption. One common implementation of IoT sensors is smart lighting. Similar to motion-activated lighting, an IoT smart light sensor allows users to schedule lights or adjust the dimness of the bulb. The result is more conscious energy use that meets the exact needs of employees in your office.

Commit to Growth by Making Sustainability a Priority

The United States holds about 30 percent of global wealth but is also responsible for more than 10 percent of total emissions. In other words, we have the financial strength to address issues we’ve been causing. Fortunately, we’re making progress.

More companies are implementing ESG standards—and performing better financially as a result. The US government has committed to a net zero future by 2050. Greenhouse emissions decreased by more than 10 percent in the past year. There’s reason for excitement. But to continue this improvement, businesses need to prioritize sustainability in future investments. The environmental impacts of our choices matter.

Tillmann Schwabe is General Manager of everphone U.S.