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Most employees want environmentally-friendly workplaces

UK workers willing to take on sustainable business practices but sceptical about how policies are created

LONDON, April 30, 2008 - More than half (55 per cent) of UK workers are not suffering from 'green fatigue,' says a new report unveiled by Cisco today. The study also found that 13 per cent say they would not work for an employer without a sustainable business practice policy.

The Cisco® Sustainable Business Practice Study found that three-quarters of UK employees consider themselves to be environmentally responsible. Seventy-eight per cent of workers know whether their employer has a sustainable business practice policy in place, indicating a high level of awareness around this issue. Forty-five per cent of employees report that their employers have an environmental or sustainable business practice policy in place, and 53 per cent say they are expected to take their own initiative to support sustainable business practices.

"It is encouraging to note that more and more workers are demanding a greater emphasis on sustainable business practices from their employers," said Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute. "There is an increasing responsibility on management to embrace and deliver the new modes of responsible, sustainable working that employees demand. It is becoming clear that businesses which fail to do this will struggle to attract and retain the best staff."

The role of IT

When asked what initiatives they would be prepared to support at work, nearly half of the employees (48 per cent) responded that they would be willing to use web and video conferencing, and more than half (53 per cent) would be willing to alter their working practices to reduce the need for business travel. In addition, larger proportions would be willing to shut down work computers overnight (74 per cent) and refrain from printing multiple copies of e-mails and documents (67 per cent).

Businesses keen to meet employee demands

The research found that Information Technology (IT) leaders are working to address sustainable business practice issues. Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of IT leaders stated that sustainability is a key issue for them, with 44 per cent of respondents going a step further, indicating that sustainability is now a board-level issue in their organisation.

In the year ahead, 30 per cent of IT leaders report that they anticipate their budgets for technologies aimed at improving sustainable business practice will rise, and 25 per cent expect a rise of as much as 10 to 25 per cent. Forty-three per cent of IT leaders also say they are willing to pay a premium for goods and services from sustainable suppliers.

IT departments are looking to increase the impact of a range of initiatives to support sustainable business practice efforts, some of which form the base of any sustainability policy, including recycling (85 per cent) and the use of low-energy lighting (60 per cent) - but new technologies are being considered, including digital video communications (40 per cent) and web 2.0 and instant messaging tools (15 per cent).

"Technology has a key role to play in supporting sustainable business practice," comments David Meads, operational director for Cisco in the UK and Ireland. "Some of the newer, Internet-driven technologies we are using not only have an impact on sustainability but also transform the way we work - from enabling virtual, mobile teams to dramatically reducing the need for business travel."

Public sector IT given responsibility and budgets to promote sustainable agenda

Twelve per cent of public sector IT leaders report that their departments are the main driver of sustainable business practices. A quarter (25 per cent) of public sector IT leaders are expecting budget increases to support sustainable business practice efforts, and 24 per cent of those expect this to be as high as 10 to 25 per cent.

These funds will be directed to a number of areas, with 31 per cent of respondents looking to virtualisation and data centre consolidation technologies to support sustainable business practice, and 23 per cent looking to digital video.

However, 28 per cent of public sector IT leaders do not know whether their organisations place a high priority on sustainable practices, a significantly higher proportion than within the private sector (nine per cent). In addition, a fifth of public sector IT leaders are not aware of their organisation's sustainability priorities compared to just two per cent in the private sector.

Cisco's Meads comments: "The government understands the challenge it faces in addressing sustainable business practice in the public sector and is working to increase the awareness of public sector CIOs of the issues at hand. It's encouraging to see the extent to which budgets and priorities are already being considered by public sector IT leaders."

"Organisations recognise that we are at a relatively early stage in the journey to sustainable business practice," continues Meads. "If sustainable business practice is given the priority and resources needed by our business leaders and workers alike, the UK has an opportunity to set an example for the world to follow."

The Cisco Sustainable Business Practice Study is based on a YouGov study of 1,200 representative British workers, and on additional research by Vanson Bourne into the opinions of IT leaders of 200 private and public sector organisations of more than 1,000 employees .

To see the full report, please visit

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