How The Internet Can Help Your Business Go GreenIf you’re running a business, or planning to start one up, then minimizing your environmental impact is likely a high priority for three important reasons – because it’s sensible and rewarding to plan for sustainable development and profits, because being green will be a crucial selling point for many of your customers, and also because it will help to reduce your costs overall.

If you’re a company such as BP, in an industry that leaves an unmistakeable environmental mark, then shifting your practices towards a green philosophy is going to be a large and complex task. But if you’re a small to medium enterprise (SME) on the up, then implementing a green philosophy can be an integral part of your business plan from the start, by simply harnessing the power of the Internet.

The big shift in current business thinking is going from selling products to selling services – rather than creating physical products in factories and shipping them to stores around the world, the cutting-edge of businesses are looking to provide services that other companies want to outsource.

The benefit of this service economy is that it can all be conducted online, with staff based at home. The future of carbon-conscious business practice lies in ‘cloud’ computing – rather than having large offices filled with staff who work together physically via the one fixed computer network, ‘cloud’ computing allows businesses to work in unison no matter where the staff are, using office applications hosted online, such as Google Docs.

Not only that, but free online communication channels with instant messaging, such as Skype, mean that people no longer have to work in physical proximity in order to maintain speedy and productive working relationships.

In fact, you no longer even need physical office space – your company can consist of dozens of people based all around the world, working from home, communicating and collaborating in the ‘cloud’, which means lower overheads for your business and – here’s the crux – a much lower carbon footprint.

Sun Microsystems is one big company that has embraced the ‘work from home’ ethos – in 2006 it opened a programme to allow 56% of its staff to work from home, saving $67.8m in real-estate costs and nearly 29,000 tons of CO2 emissions, not to mention increasing worker productivity by a stunning 34%.

Basing your business online reduces your overall environmental impact in numerous ways. First off, it reduces the amount of paper and ink your business uses, by transferring all files and work into the online realm.

Having staff who work from home also eliminates the need to commute to and from work, significantly reducing traffic pollution, and also reduces energy usage (and your overheads) by removing the need to maintain physical office spaces, not to mention that most of the technological products needed to work online are either reusable or recyclable, from laptops to mobile phones.

As such, it’s a no-brainer – using the Internet as your office space is the obvious green way forward, because you’ll save not only carbon emissions but also money, meaning your business will be helping to save the environment while also saving cash in your bank account.