Covid-19: Toitū adjusts to a new way of working
Where do we start?
The speed of change over the last three week means that events in early March feel like a lifetime ago. We’ve all had to adjust to extraordinary circumstances in a way that we couldn’t have predicted. But this new way of working offers the possibility of long-term change (and climate action), as we realise that many of our businesses processes and how are members work together, are more flexible than we thought.
Working from home
First things first, the Toitū team are all now working from home, as are many of you. Comfort has been paramount; as much as possible we took home screens, chairs and other equipment to set up a comfortable workstation.
Working from home has also meant a sharp decrease in commuting – and our carbon emissions. Toitū Technical Account Manager Ronja Lidenhammar estimates that the average New Zealand commuter is saving 11 kg of carbon per week simply by working from home.
“Working from home saves carbon as well as time”, says Ronja. “Over the course of the month, we would also expect to see other positive benefits, like reduction in local air and noise pollution”.
Toitū audits are typically an on-site process, where our auditor can check data as well as facilities or activities, if required. However, given current circumstances, all Toitū audits scheduled before 30 June will be done remotely, with your auditor dialling in. If they can’t be done remotely, they will be rescheduled.
The audit team have prepared support packs for clients to guide them through the process, and last week we completed our first remote Toitū carbon and Toitū enviromark programme audits.
For Audit and Certification Manager Karen Tipper, it’s an opportunity to trial the possibilities of remote auditing and offer it as a service for clients in the future.
“Remote auditing is recognised as robust under our JAS-ANZ accreditation and ensures all our clients can continue with their certification journey no matter the circumstances”, she says. “In the future, it’s also an option for us to reduce our own company carbon emissions while offering greater flexibility for our clients”.
Helping our clients through these unprecedented times
Toitū is accommodating clients who need to take a membership holiday as they focus on urgent operational issues. However, for some it’s an opportunity to use the quieter moments to revisit their carbon reduction strategy, or consider setting a more ambitious goal, like a science-based target.
Toitū Envirocare Chief Executive, Becky Lloyd, believes the lockdown will stimulate innovation from many organisations as they reassess their business; from office locations, facilities, equipment, and even to core activities.
“For Toitu, the lockdown has been an opportunity to reconsider some of our business practices, like commuting or flying, keeping in touch with one another, and how we can structure our activities to put climate action first,” she says. “It proves dramatic change can be achieved.”
She adds, “The challenge going forward will be how to maintain any positive changes, while ensuring businesses remain viable. For now, our focus is on supporting our clients to get through this uncertain time as best they can. In the longer run, these lessons learnt whilst adapting may be an opportunity for innovation and new thinking”.
New ways of keeping in touch (and keeping calm)
Toitū has been communicating using Skype for Business for a while now, but we’re trialing new ways of chatting to make sure our team keeps in touch. This includes having virtual team coffee breaks (bring your own coffee), turning in-person events into online webinars and making sure we phone each other rather than just email. It’s important that we keep connected, as we adjust from being part of a busy office to self-isolating at home.
Our Senior Sustainability Advisor, Chris Bailey, also used online meeting software to lead the team in a virtual guided meditation. A long-term mindfulness practitioner, he led the session to help the team feel more grounded in very uncertain times.
“We’re all experiencing different levels of anxiety as the lockdown continues”, he says. “Practices like meditation help individuals and teams take a moment away from their day stressors and refresh themselves”.
If you do have any concerns about an upcoming Toitū audit, or your programme, please contact your Key Account Manager.
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