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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it will come as no surprise that remote working has experienced a surge in adoption, kick-started for many of us by the events of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whatever your beliefs about COVID-19, for many of us, Boris Johnson’s announcement on the 23rd March 2020 that we must “stay at home” introduced us to Zoom and the 40 minute time-limit on calls, the head-long rush to buy a webcam, and a new role for our homes as offices and schools. While some family members spent the day on the XBox, and jigsaws found their way down from the loft, lots of us spent big chunks of the day looking at ourselves on the screen.

As we settled into the new routine of home-working, home-schooling, and an extra hour in bed every day, the impact of this became more evident. The roads were empty, and we heard sounds previously obscured by traffic noise. The familiar criss-cross of vapour trails no longer played noughts-and-crosses in the sky. And for those with an elevated view of city skylines, the air cleared. Even though these forced changes brought financial hardship for many, the environmental benefits became obvious – with a 17% reduction in daily CO2 production.

What does this mean for Zixty?

When Zixty was founded, we made a clear and unambiguous decision that we would embrace home-working and remote first. But what do we mean by this, and how does it work towards our goal of being net-zero?

We don’t have a fixed office, and we don’t currently plan on having one. While “never say never”, we would only employ a fixed office space if it was essential to running the business, and the selection of any such space would be subject to stringent tests about the environmental credentials of said space.

This has many benefits for Zixty, the most significant advantage of which is its positive impact on the environment. Or, at the very least, it yields a significantly reduced impact on the environment. By reducing the number of daily commutes, we limit our burden on the transport networks, consequently decreasing greenhouse gas emissions – a principal culprit of climate change.

With no fixed offices to heat, light, or cool, the energy consumption of our business is significantly reduced.

A report by the Carbon Trust revealed that if remote working was embraced, it could reduce over 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually in the UK. Such a significant reduction in the carbon footprint is not just a corporate responsibility but a global necessity in mitigating climate change effects.

Remote working means that we can hire people based on their fit for the business – not where they choose to live. In time we can hire across the UK, distributing jobs, and the local impact that follows. This work-life balance fosters wellness, as we can take the time to be with family and friends.

So, at Zixty you won’t find printers churning out paper, people arriving after a sweaty commute, and taking meetings while stuck in traffic. The work devices we use at home are, often as not, the ones that would have been used for home use anyway and (subject to additional security controls) have no incremental environmental impact.

Does Zixty use offices at all?

Yes, we do. From time to time we used shared office space, where we’re getting the efficiency that comes with this. We believe that face to face collaboration is important – particularly on creative tasks. A chat while walking to get a coffee, a bite to eat at lunch, or maybe a drink after work are all key components of work well-being, and a strongly performing team. We just keep these days to a minimum, and most of our work is from home.

How do customers benefit?

We can offer customer service around the clock. With remote first, we can (and do) have team members as far abroad as the Philippines. Our customer service model can follow the sun, and while we don’t currently offer all of our service functions 24×7, we are ideally placed to do just that.

Our overseas team members are home-based too, so we’re not contributing to local problems. We don’t jump on planes to recruit, interview, and manage remote team members. This is all done remotely. Management of teams remotely brings with it fresh challenges, but remote working is not new to many of us, and so we’ve adopted ways of recruitment, development, and management.

Remote working lowers costs, and we can pass these savings on to our customers. We recruit the best, and reward fairly.

Is remote-first a magic bullet?

Home-working has an environmental cost, and the environmental case for remote-first is not as clear-cut as it might seem at first. It’s not a shoe-in. A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that the environmental benefit of such a change was impacted by many factors, some of them driven by the approach conducted by individuals working from their homes. We are all signed-up to Giki Zero – allowing us to measure our individual carbon footprints, with recommended steps to reduce our impact on the environment.

The future

As we look forward, it’s clear that remote-first working is here to stay; it’s a transformative approach to work that holds benefits for the business, the environment, and our customers.

The embrace of remote-first is a testament to a business world evolving, steadily aligning itself with the demands of environmental sustainability, employee well-being, and customer satisfaction. It’s not just a strategy to navigate a pandemic, but a philosophy about forging a sustainable and inclusive future.

At Zixty we’re working to develop new ways to help our customers understand and limit the environmental impact of their driving, to encourage and reward the use of alternative transport methods, and to move towards carbon neutrality as a business.

How Zixty helps you help the climate

So, there you have it – the Zixty approach to remote-first, and minimising our impact on the climate. As a business we exist so that people can also work towards reducing their impact on the climate, by adopting new ways of getting from A to B.

We’re well aware that the goal for all of us should be carbon reduction – not carbon offsetting. We also know that cars and car journeys are inherently bad for the climate – whether that’s the manufacture, the fuelling, the emissions, or the disposal. We don’t advocate car ownership or use.

That said, for many people, there are times when a car is the only practical option, and for these occasions we CO2 offset the environmental cost of administering the policy – for free. In addition to this, with Zixty Miles we offer our customers the option to offset their driving CO2 for free while they’re a customer.

Our temporary car insurance product naturally lends itself to the sharing and borrowing of cars. With fewer cars manufactured and disposed of, we’re helping people own less, and share more.