Tips to ‘Green’ your SME

By Aaron Thornton, Managing Director of Dial a Nerd

environmentally-friendly SME
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Repositioning your business as a more environmentally-friendly one and making your SME ‘green’, can significantly save costs in the long-run.

Load shedding, water shortages, and overcoming a high-carbon footprint are just some of the environmental matters making the headlines in recent years. And that is not even factoring in the impact 16-year-old teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has had on popular sentiment. But apart from it being the right thing to do, ‘going green’ in your SME can significantly save costs in the long-run – with many of the measures not even being that difficult to implement.

Here are some of the steps you can take towards repositioning your business as a more environmentally-friendly one to ‘green’ your SME.

1. Cloud first

In the ultra-connected landscape of business today, going the cloud route seems almost a given. In fact, transitioning key services to an online environment is probably one of the fastest ways an SME can cut costs and become more environmentally sustainable.

With South Africa firmly on the radar of multinationals opening their data centres in the country, now is the best time to make the move. Without going into the complexities of the various cloud models available, each have their strengths. But all of them come down to being able to host data and applications remotely.

This significantly reduces the need to buy new hardware and software for the business. Cloud-based solutions scale according to the needs of your SME and all software is automatically updated. Plus, your business will use less electricity as these powerful systems are off-site.

And by not having the burden to manage expensive servers on-premise, you can focus on delivering more value to your clients – an essential part of being competitive today.

2. Goodbye desktop

As part of this transition to reduce the resources your business uses (think electricity), another way to quickly save money is by embracing the concept of micro-computing devices.

For example, the CloudGate X is a proudly SA computer that uses less than 5% of the electricity a typical desktop requires. This palm-sized device plugs into an existing screen and gives you access to all your cloud-based services at a fraction of the cost. And if you are hit by the inevitable load shedding, these energy-savvy systems can run longer on existing generators or UPS solutions than their larger brethren.

3. Work from home

It is incredible to think that at a time where internet access and technology have evolved so much, people still sit in traffic for hours on end as they travel to and from work daily. Not only do these hours quickly add up to lost productivity, but just think about the fuel costs and impact on carbon emissions – especially in a country like SA not known for its effective public transport systems.

Research conducted by show that if employees who could work remotely only do so half the time, it would save the business more than R150 000 annually per person. And for the employee, this could save them almost R100 000 per year. No matter how you spin it, that is a lot of money in a cash-strapped economy.

Just think about the benefits of not having to spend so much money on office supplies, furniture, equipment, and even rental space if more workers can do their job from home. So, give it a try by letting a few employees work from home two days a week.

4. Becoming resource ‘smart’

Smart meters are becoming an increasingly popular add-on to prepaid electricity systems in SA. Imagine seeing how much electricity you are consuming in real-time, and being able to be in control of these unavoidable expenses. Even better, seeing as how these smart meters can link to your mobile device, you can track power usage wherever you are – there is no need to be in the office to do so.

This enables any SME to be more pro-active when it comes to their energy usage and save costs along the way by switching off high-energy resources when they are not needed. Much like cloud computing that works on a pay-per-use model, installing a smart meter does much the same thing for the electricity usage of an SME. It gives the business owner the, err, power to take charge of a significant monthly expense.

When combined with the telecommuting, this can see the business owner save massively on air conditioning during the summer months and heating in winter by having fewer employees in the office.

5. Keep it simple

While SMEs have access to a wealth of effective technological solutions to help them become more green, sometimes it pays to return to basics. Ask your staff members what initiatives they would like to see implemented at the office. It could be something as simplistic as having recycling stations that separate plastic, paper, and so on.

If your SME runs out of a home office, then consider replacing existing globes with LED ones to not only save money but provide better lighting for employees. And have you taken the time to consider how much plastic (cutlery, cups, etc.) is used in the office kitchen? And that’s not even touching on how office printers can quickly generate a mountain of paper waste with unnecessary print outs.

The key is to not immediately try and solve the green issue on a massive scale, but rather start with a few easy (and quick) wins to work towards a green SME. That way, the business owner can get better employee buy-in that will help sustain these initiatives over a longer period.

This article first appeared in the Feb/March digital issue of Your Business Magazine. Read your free copy here!

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