Wed, 03 Jun 2020

It’s been well documented that the UK-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant environmental impact, with reduced road traffic and industrial emissions leading to a dramatic decrease in air pollution.

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, reducing our carbon footprint has always been a priority, and we’ve previously taken steps such as banishing single-use plastics from our offices as part of our ‘What’s My Impact?’ initiative – the cornerstone of our CSR and sustainability efforts.

What the past few months have proven, however, is that there is still plenty more we can do.

We sat down with our head of business services, Cliff Docker, to find out more about the changes his team have been putting in place to ensure these environmental benefits continue, even after lockdown measures have been lifted.

Cliff says: “In order to prepare our floors for our colleagues returning to a new way of working, we’ve developed Project GROW (Gradual Return to Work).

“Our number one priority is keeping our colleagues safe, and we would rather do everything correctly the first time around, than rush and make mistakes.

“Project GROW will involve a staggered return to work, and this will start with transitioning 15% of people back in the office from mid-June.  To ensure the safety of all colleagues, we are introducing socially distanced desks, providing hand sanitizer gel on all floors and installing helpful signage, as well as working on a thorough induction process for colleagues coming back to the office.

“As part of this plan, we’ve also taken an in-depth look at the environmental benefits that have come from the temporary shutdown of our Solihull and Belfast offices, and have considered ways in which we can continue these successes once we emerge out the other side of this crisis.”

But what will these changes to working life look like?

Cliff explains: “Perhaps one of the most obvious ways in which we’ve reduced our carbon emissions over the last few months has been by eliminating the daily commute almost completely. With 99% of our team working remotely since the end of March, we’ve collectively saved making around 10,000 less car journeys a month – a significant reduction in our contribution to air pollution.

“In addition, as most our colleagues have not had access to equipment such as photocopiers and printers whilst working remotely, there’s been a huge reduction in the amount of paper and toner ink used. We also expect to see a big drop in our electricity usage this year, with everything from lights to vending machines inactive for a significant period of time across our 60,000 square feet of office space in Solihull & Belfast.”

With most of us having adapted to life without the daily commute and finding that we don’t need to print or photocopy as much as we had done previously, there really is no reason for us to completely return to our old routines.

Cliff says: “By putting in place more permanent measures such as working from home days and replacing desktops with laptops, we’ll be able to turn these short-term benefits into long-term solutions – working towards BNP Paribas’ goal of reducing our absolute carbon emissions by 60% by 2030.

“Complacency is our biggest enemy when it comes to continuing these changes once people return to work, and we hope that Project GROW will give us the structure to continue maximizing these environmental benefits into the future.”

To find out more about BNP Paribas’ commitment to supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, click here: