Despite customer and employee demand, less than a quarter of businesses considered sustainability and social issues a top three priority during 2020 – but expectations post Covid are encouraging
A new Indexing Report launched by Epson reviews the shifting priorities and expectations surrounding sustainability and social considerations, now and post Covid. The report seeks to identify not only the actions of businesses, but also the opportunities and threats resulting from the expectations of their customers and employees. Demographic and regional variances are also reviewed.
The report includes findings from research run in the summer months of the Covid pandemic, asking over 4,000 respondents based across Europe and the Middle East about their actions and attitudes towards sustainability1. This was followed by a series of debate events held in the final quarter of 2020 to interrogate those researches finding.
“For Epson, sustainability has long been a cornerstone of business function, both in the design and production of the products we make, as well as within our own behaviours and business operations. We don’t believe we’re alone in striving for a more sustainable approach to business, but the pandemic has shifted a lot of priorities,” comments Darren Phelps, VP of Epson Europe.
“We wanted to learn and adapt with our partners and consumers to establish where technology can align and help support plans for a more sustainable, economically viable future. This report shares the insight we gathered, both in terms of current and planned action, and the expectations of stakeholders that can impact business success.”
Some key takeaways from the report
During the Covid crisis less than a quarter of European and Middle Eastern businesses considered sustainability and social issues within their top three priorities. This was at odds with the general population, with environmental and social issues considered important by 71% (both as customers and employees), and 83% claiming that the environmental and social credentials of the products and services they personally purchase were important.
Employees both in the office and working from home said environmental factors must play a key role in the products provided for their use (70% claiming home working technologies must be long lasting, energy efficient or reduce waste), while 81% of employees revealed that it’s important to them that their employer supports social and environmental issues.
IT decision makers lead when it comes to positive environmental planning for the future. This will no doubt support those businesses looking at prioritising these issues post Covid and seeking to better align with customer and employee stakeholder expectations. Regional and generational differences are evident, but a majority agree there are business advantages to sustainable and societal action.
Position of sustainability – now and post Covid
Understandably, new pressures brought on by the Covid pandemic had businesses re-prioritising. Disappointingly, sustainability and social issues were seemingly put aside with 76% confirming they did not feature within their top three business priorities. More positively, there is expectation of renewed focus once the crisis is over, with 65% claiming these issues will become more important in the aftermath of Covid.
Sustainability and cost efficiency can go hand in hand when it comes to office technologies. But these solutions are often overlooked with macro trends such as wind turbines and solar panels leading many to the impression that sustainability can be inaccessible and costly.
IT decision makers are the likely champions for sustainability
IT decision makers lead when it comes to positive future planning, with 79% expecting the importance of environmental and social issues to increase post Covid. This may be explained by the fact that they have better insight and knowledge of the simple technology solutions at their disposal and are better positioned to both implement these and track their impact.
“We already know that Inkjet technology has huge environmental benefits over laser and have advocated the switch for many years,” says Darren Phelps. “Very simply, if all laser printers within Europe were swapped for Epson heat-free business inkjets, we could save enough energy annually to reduce CO2 emissions by 410m kilograms and cut energy costs by up to €152m each year2.”
Opportunity of sustainability
Less tangible benefits also exist for businesses that remain committed to environmental and social efforts, with 82% of decision makers and 78% of non-decision makers believing that these efforts can have a significant impact on business performance.
Further, of those focusing on environmental and social efforts, 86% expect to see business profits increase over the next year/five years.
As consumers or customers, 83% of respondents claim that the environmental and social credentials of the products and services they personally purchase are important. And as employees these factors are important to 81%, who want to see them supported by their employer. A critical factor when it comes to future workforce planning.
Employees want better consideration given to equipment (at home and in the office) whatever their age
When it comes to the products provided, employees want to see sustainability efforts made here too, with 70% claiming it’s essential that products are either built to last, energy efficient and/or reduce waste.
And while generational differences are evident – with over 76% of those under 22 and 71% of those aged 23-37 expecting social and environmental issues to become increasingly important post Covid, versus 55% aged 54 and over – it’s the older demographic that drives the demand for energy efficiency, longevity and waste reduction within products.
Find out more and to access the Index Report here: https://www.epson.co.uk/eco-values
1. Research conducted on behalf of Epson by B2B International, June 20202.
2. Based on Epson calculations. Methodology verified by TÜV Rheinland, based on ‘Typical Energy Consumption’, defined under and/or simulated with reference to the Energy Star test procedure and presented in kWh per year. Models identified using IDC HCP tracker 2019Q2 (2015Q1 to 2018Q4 data), and 2018 installed-base in EU22 businesses reported by IDC (“Installed Base by Vertical, 2019Q2”). Comparative calculations can be found here: https://www.epson.eu/neop-footnotes