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How to Stick to Your Resolutions

There’s a general consensus around New Year’s resolutions: making them is fun. Sticking to them is not.

This wrestle can continue all year long. We want to have the proposed end-point of the resolution, the light at the end of the tunnel, but we falter in executing (or even creating) a plan to reach it. This is why, year-in and year-out, people will chuckle about how soon they ‘failed’ at their resolutions.

But it’s not that simple: if every resolution were destroyed each time we got sidetracked, nothing would ever be achieved. We’d do well to remember the motivational posters tacked up in our grade school homerooms: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

This is the most important item to remember when setting and working towards your resolution: you don’t need to abandon it if you momentarily fail at it. This is where discipline and commitment will be tested. It’s easier to say, ‘I failed, I’ll do better next year,’ making it next year’s issue and leaving you off the hook for the rest of 2019.

 

But sticking to your resolutions is just that. It requires perseverance, hard work, and a sense of responsibility—not to others, but to yourself. At times, it’s helpful to view a resolution as a technique of self-care. Rather than a rigid, martial, all-or-nothing rule, it’s an annual chance to implement new practices in looking after yourself. This will look different for each person: maybe you wish to be in better shape, or perhaps you wish to up your protein intake and reduce your sugars. You might even just want to keep your workspace clean and organized.

Regardless of what the goal is, the most critical difference between a successful or unsuccessful resolution is our ability to commit ourselves to that change. That, of course, depends on how badly we want it.

Writer Brandon Stosuy recently described success as “having the discipline to do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, even if nobody’s watching you, and you’re only saying it to yourself.” This gets at the core of our struggles with new year’s resolutions: unlike at work, in most cases no one will be monitoring our progress or ensuring we complete tasks and hit deadlines. It’s on us to either succeed or abandon our resolutions.

Luckily, there are certain strategies that can help you stick to your guns and accomplish your goals for the year. One of these is to do things step-by-step: draw up a game-plan that breaks your resolution down into manageable bits, and cross them off as you go. (Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc.) Another helpful technique is to talk about your experiences with your resolutions. Solidarity and community discussion is a helpful tool for not only pushing us towards success, but assuaging our anxieties about struggling.

 

This public outreach need not be limited to discussion. It’s important to assess when we need help. Although resolutions are largely a personal endeavour, this doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help in attaining them. It is a fool’s errand to push ourselves to extremes in the name of independence. We build community so that we can lean on each other. Sometimes, sticking to your resolution means using a lifeline.

New Year’s resolutions can be draining, but they can also be enriching, pushing us to discover more about ourselves and those around us. This year, set resolutions that will encourage you to work year-round to accomplish them, and then hold yourself accountable for them. If you enter next year having made changes, then you’ve stuck to your resolutions.

 


Making Better New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Living

For many people, New Year’s resolutions are a curse. They’re bars that we set too high, ones that we can’t possibly overcome, and so we give up trying altogether. But of course, this is to miss the point of a resolution: it isn’t a pass-fail test, but rather a year-long practice, a mantra we set and work towards, a carrot dangling ever-ahead. Resolutions shouldn’t be a curse, but a constant nudge.

 

In this spirit of slow-and-steady-wins-the-race, it’s actually healthy and encouraging—rather than burdensome or depressing—to set resolutions for the year ahead. This time of the calendar year offers an opportunity to adjust our course by orienting ourselves towards a healthier lifestyle. This notion of a healthy lifestyle isn’t one-size-fits-all, though. Each person’s health is different, and so too are the changes they require in order to live healthy.

 

However, before setting your new year’s resolutions, you have to figure out what is you’re hoping to achieve—regardless of what the goal is, a resolution is only as sturdy as the end-point it’s committed to reaching. No need for hair-trigger decisions; take a week or two to work out where you’d like to be come January 2020, and go from there.

 

With that in mind, we’ve assembled some suggestions for working towards a conception of healthy living in 2019. From consumption habits to screen time to physical activities, our lifestyles are dictated by our routines in these little sectors of our lives. Here are some ways you can modify those routines in the coming year.

 

SCREEN TIME

It’s almost undeniable now that we spend a lion’s share of our day staring at screens. Modern society necessitates a digital screen for virtually every job, and who doesn’t want to turn on Netflix after a long day of work? A recent study found that American adults spent over 11 hours a day looking at various screens—laptop, cell phone, television—and doctors have already warned of the health problems associated with excessive tech use: poor posture, neck pain, headaches. Cutting down screen time is essential for not just physical improvement, but mental wellness. Try implementing screen-free periods, both at work and at home. This requires discipline and accommodation (allot some basic organizational or writing tasks for this period at work, or some reading or exercise activities at home).

 

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

This is a popular resolution, but it’s a valid one nonetheless. In 2016, Time reported that a study found that only around a quarter of adult women and men were satisfied with their appearance and weight. Physical activity is one way to work on body image issues, but it also shifts over into other aspects of life: confidence, self-esteem, and general physical health all have positive correlative relationships with increased physical activity. This doesn’t just mean time on a treadmill—find an activity that’s right for you, and practice it this year.

 

EATING

Most resolutions around consumption habits carry a negative connotation: stop doing that, cut this out. This is where feelings of shame can intrude when we fail. Instead, it’s more constructive to put a positive spin on these resolutions. This strategy can mean replacing rather than removing; for example, replace a bag of chips with a fruit and vegetable. This sounds bland and obvious, but there are lots of ways to make this an enjoyable change. Take a look at your eating habits, and work out a personalized plan to rearrange your diet based on your needs and goals.

 


This Christmas, think about what it means to give

It’s said that Christmas is a time of giving. This is true: the holiday season falls at year’s end, when we are awash with the promise of a new year and the endeavours of an old one behind us. We want to give; we want to end the year on a high note. And giving is one of the most rewarding and encouraging things we can do. Life was not meant to be lived in solitude—it’s best when it’s shared.

At Christmas time, this giving traditionally takes the form of gifts, tokens of our affection and gratitude and love. This exchange is also almost exclusive to intimate relationships. It’s rare that we will give gifts to those with whom we don’t have a connection. But, as observed by the likes of The Grinch, the season has a tendency to lend itself to avarice and unfettered consumerism.

Rather than lean into these, we should focus on the fact that Christmas offers an opportunity to contribute beyond your circle of loved ones, in ways that are potentially more valuable and impactful. When we think of how we can help folks who need it most, we tend to think of bringing someone food or dropping a bit of change in their cup. While these are good gestures, there are many other ways to give this Christmas. Consider the following this holiday season.

Give The Necessities

When we think of frontline giving, we think of money or food, but there are other, harder-to-come-by necessities that these offerings can be coupled with. Consider purchasing or donating clothing items, like wool socks, long underwear, or winter outerwear: boots, coats, toques, mittens, etc. Approach these interactions with sensitivity and warmth and patience—give your time, too. Get to know the people in your community and your city who might need help. Perhaps you can help arrange lodging, or employment. There are many ways to give.

 

Volunteer

Giving your time extends to volunteering. There are plenty of ways to do this, each with a different focus, and depending on your community, needs will be different. Get in touch with your surroundings to see where your efforts would be best directed: at the soup kitchen, at the shelter, at the overdose prevention clinic, at the safe injection site. There are folks at each who will be happy to receive your time and your companionship this Christmas.


Donate

If your holidays are too crammed to spend much time away from family, donating to charitable organizations is a simple and effective way to give to those in need. Once again, the needs of your community will vary from place to place, so do some reading beforehand to see where money is needed most. Some programs receive plenty of funding and community support, while others struggle, week over week, to stay afloat. Focus your donating on these places.


Lobby and Organize

Giving need not be limited to a three-week period in December of each year. You can give year-round with your voice, which you can lend to causes that too often are voiceless. Strike up dialogues with your municipal, provincial, and federal representatives, and remind them of the importance of considering, caring for, and giving to people who are experiencing homelessness, addiction, and other issues. Vocally support policies and funding that would further these causes. This work is crucial, and—coupled with other tactics—suggests a generosity of spirit befitting of the Christmas season.


How to approach ‘National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women’ in the workplace

December usually marks a time of frivolity and cheer, but like November before it, the month also brings with it a time of solemn and painful remembrance. Each year, December 6 marks the anniversary of the mass shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989. 14 women were murdered during the shooting, which was carried out by a radicalized anti-feminist Quebecois man who died by suicide at the scene. A note from the shooter identified feminism as the source of the shooter’s rage.

 

Two years later, in 1991, Member of Parliament Dawn Black introduced a bill to dub December 6 ‘National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.’ The bill passed, and for the past 27 years, the date has marked a solemn, traumatic, and critical recognition of violence against women in Canada.

With the violence at the Polytechnique mass shooting, as with most attacks that target women (like the murders carried out by Elliot Rodger in California in 2014, or Alek Minassian’s van attack in Toronto earlier this year), it is important to recognize that the violence is rooted in a belief system that subjugates women. These attacks, and their perpetrators, have been steeped in misogyny at its most violent and grotesque forms.

But of course, misogyny in any form is violent and grotesque, and the ideas that lead to these attacks are present more often than we might think. Perhaps they’re whispered or veiled, or presented as a joke. Whatever the case, if we are to remember and respect the violence of December 6, 1989, we have to confront these attitudes wherever they appear.

This includes in the office, and offices—spaces historically dominated by men and masculinity—are a place where power structures can make it difficult to effectively challenge and uproot misogyny. For example, if a boss uses misogynistic language or jokes, it creates an accepted dynamic that employees are less inclined to confront (lest they suffer professional repercussions).

Effective eradication of misogyny in the workplace begins from the top-down, an essential framework for creating an office culture that is respectful, inclusive, and non-violent. A common and frequently-heard counter to this is when individuals lament the rise of an ‘ultra-politically-correct’ culture in the office. But it’s typically a lament for a time when one could crack jokes at the expense of others, or make belittling comments to coax a chuckle out of a deskmate. Expressing dismay over attitudes becoming too ‘politically-correct’ is, in those cases, equal to mourning one’s inability to be openly sexist. A coworker’s personal comfort and dignity is more important than a joke or a word. If these need to be erased, it’s a small price to pay.

Even this might seem trivial: surely a joke here and there has nothing to do with the sort of extremist violence that played out at Polytechnique. But the two are inextricably linked. Language shapes attitudes and views, so when we employ words—even in jest—that degrade women, the idea behind it trickles through. Diligence and respect with words is the first step towards diligence and respect in all aspects.

At the heart of sexism and misogyny is an utter lack of respect that hurtles towards increasingly toxic rhetoric. The only way to erase these attitudes is to stop them where they start.

 


Exam Season Strategies to Maintain Your Mental Health

With the first semester of the school year coming to a close, there’s one final obstacle that remains, separating you from a peaceful holiday respite with family or friends: the dreaded exam season.

Depending on your major, you might find yourself facing a series of multiple-choice exams or a number of essays with daunting word count requirements.

Don’t fear: if this is your first pass through the gauntlet, know that with a bit of hard work and organization, you’ll emerge victorious. If it’s not your first, even more reason to be rest assured: you’ve conquered the syllabi before and can do so again.

It’s no secret that exam season can be overwhelming for students, including those that haven’t reached post-secondary education yet. Many schools have begun adopting approaches to planning increased mental health service availability based on their arrival. Take advantage of these resources if you need them – they’ll help make sure that you get through your exams and be stronger for it. Here are some other tips and tricks that’ll make sure you can head into your post-exam holiday with some swagger in your step:

Healthy Body = Healthy Mind

In the quest to conquer our exams, we sometimes take a single-minded approach to studying and neglect the thing that matters most: our health. Late-night cram sessions, fueled by Red Bull and Snickers Bars isn’t a recipe for success, it’s a recipe for sleeping in past your exam time with a stomach ache, to boot.

Structure your exam studying schedule so that it accommodates meal times and short breaks for a workout.  Consider getting even a bit of exercise right before the exam: a study has shown that 20 minutes of activity beforehand can boost test scores. Similarly, there’s a link between food quality and student test scores. So trade in that chocolate bar for some baby carrots. Your body will thank you and your mind will too.

Don’t Go it Alone: Get a Study Buddy

When exams are upon us, it’s easy to transition into a survival mode where we’re so focused on getting ourselves through this that we forget that there are dozens of others in our classes in the same spot as us. There’s strength (and smarts) in numbers: recruit a classmate or organize/find a study group to boost your chances of acing the test.

Some of the benefits: you both can motivate the other to stay on top of studying, you can divide and conquer different parts of the course materials and teach it to each other, they can more objectively judge whether your answer is right or wrong and you can rely on each other to make sure you don’t miss the exam! Not to mention, the isolation of studying alone can be stressful. With a study buddy, you’ve got a partner to fight the loneliness and perhaps, a new friend.

Find Your Zen Place

You know that person that claims they’re constantly studying but when you find them at the library, they’re either on Facebook or chatting away to someone across from them? That’s not a model that you want to emulate. When it comes to studying, channel your Zen focus by finding a good place to study, ignoring distractions and avoiding multitasking. In a study from the University of Connecticut, students that multitasked while doing homework ultimately did their work for longer and achieved lower grades.

Responding to a new notification on your phone might seem harmless but distractions can really hurt your studying regime. Once distracted, on average, your brain needs 25 minutes to get back to the task at hand.

Your best bet is to put your phone on silent, find a quiet place to study and if you lack the discipline to police yourself, consider installing an app to block you from browsing the web while in study mode.

All Work and No Play is No Fun

From the immortal words of Park and Recreation’s Donna, its important to “treat yo self”. In this case, treating yourself doesn’t necessarily mean rampant consumerism but instead, giving yourself permission to take a break and enjoy yourself, whether that’s going out with friends, playing a video game, watching a movie or taking a nap. According to the Atlantic, the optimal formula for productivity is 52 minutes of work and 17 minutes for break. Obviously, not all activities can be accomplished in 17 minutes but budget your time responsibly and you’ll achieve a good study/life balance.

Try also saving your social media consumption for your breaks – it’ll help you keep your Zen-mind for studying and you’ll feel better with that many more notifications to respond to.

Your Mental Health is More Important than the Exam

We’ve saved the most important tip for last: never think that this exam matters more than your wellbeing. It’s tragic that suicides tend to spike in exam periods and good, young lives are lost to the stress of questions on a paper. Yes, they can determine your academic success but they’re by no means definitive or final. You can always retake a class, seek an exemption or work with your school’s mental health services to find an accommodation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone, whether that’s your professor, classmate or mental health service provider and develop a plan to take control of your mental health.

 


Work Holiday Parties: How to Navigate the Season Like a Professional

With this year coming soon to a close and 2019 waiting in the wings, the season of the work holiday party is upon us. It’s a time to unwind and celebrate your achievements together, all usually at your employer’s expense.

On average, we spend 40 hours a week with our colleagues, for a grand total of 2,087 hours a year. Compare that number to a British study of 2,000 families that found the average time spent with family, “undistracted”, weekly, was just over 6 hours and you’ll start to wonder if the concept of the “work family” is really such a stretch.

With all that considered, how we present ourselves – and how we’re perceived by our coworkers – matters. This is especially true of holiday celebrations, where a lowering of workplace formalities and the introduction of alcohol into the mix can either be great for office or shop morale or a recipe for poor decisions.

In today’s blog, we’ll provide you with some helpful tips that’ll help you plan and/or navigate your workplace holiday festivities like a professional.

Celebrate Diversity

For many employers, the end of the year party is often billed as the “Christmas Party”. While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday, it’s important to be mindful of your workplace’s diversity of cultures and religions in doing so.

That means making sure the party doesn’t focus on religious elements associated with the holiday that could make your colleagues from different backgrounds uncomfortable. Stick to decorations and themes that celebrate the seasonal and secular elements and substitute the nativity scene for a nutcracker. This will help ensure that your party is inclusive and doesn’t alienate anyone in attendance.

At the same time, make sure that your catering options accommodate different dietary restrictions. Include vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal options and make sure to also accommodate those with allergy restrictions as well.

Alcohol: Keep Within Your Limit

The cliché of one-too-many drinks at the office holiday party is one because it’s a mistake committed far-too-often. There’s no easier way to tarnish a good year and reputation with colleagues than to imbibe past your limit and to say things that you may not remember but will most certainly regret. There are a number of strategies to handling libations, including imposing a two-drink limit, subbing in water every other drink or most effective, leave the drinking for another time. That way, you’ll wake up with a clear head and an unburdened mind.

Another important alcohol related note to consider: if you’re drinking at the party, don’t drive. There’s no better way to ruin your career, your life and potentially, someone else’s than by getting a DUI and not showing up for work the next morning. Many employers today offer taxi-chits for employees to get home. Besides looking after their employees, there’s a good reason to do so: employers could be held liable for overserving employees at parties.

 

Keep Conversation Light and Cheery

One of the joys of the workplace holiday party is enjoying a holiday party with a minimal focus on the workplace. You have the next day or the Monday after to discuss the finer points of the new report or project – this is a time to connect with your colleagues and learn more about them and let them know about what you’re passionate about.

Keeping things light and cheery also means avoiding meanspirited gossip. Avoid talking negatively about another colleague, the party or something related to your job. Not only will this keep people merry and in festive spirits, but you’ll also be able to steer clear being labelled a holiday Grinch and have it come back to haunt you like it did to Mr. Scrooge.

Show Up and Know When to Leave

You might be thinking, “I could avoid all of these potential pitfalls and problems if I just skip the party”. While you could stay home, you might want to think again about whether you’re really playing it safe. Many companies look at events like these as mandatory – unless you have a valid reason, like a religious holiday conflict or a prior obligation, you’ll miss out on establishing stronger bonds with your bosses and colleagues. In turn, this could potentially affect your social relationships and ultimately, your career.

In terms of timing, don’t arrive too early or party too late.  Too early and you might aggravate those setting up (or get enlisted into doing the job yourself) and too late and you might overstay your welcome and running afoul of tip #2. Stay for the speeches and toasts and find an appropriate time to leave after you say your goodbyes.

Conclusion

There are plenty of other strategies to handling the holidays gracefully. Employ them so that you stay employed, just the same!


Seasonal Affective Disorder: Stay Cheery This Holiday Season and Light Up Your Life

You might’ve noticed but something is afoot: the air is crisper; the trees a little bare and the sun doesn’t shine as it used too. It’s that time of the year again – winter is soon around the corner.

And while it’s a time for celebration, from winter sports, to family time and social occasions, you might find that your energy is waning and your holiday cheer isn’t in full festive force.

You’re not alone: it’s estimated that 4-6% of people feel this way during the winter. The culprit? Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD for short) is a form of depression tied to environmental changes, most often related to the arrival of the fall or winter. SAD can be a depressive disorder on its own or it can also exacerbate pre-existing depression or other mood disorders.

If you’re a woman, you’re also much more likely to experience SAD: four out of five people who experience it are female. You’re also much more likely to experience SAD if you’re between the ages of 20 to 30. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why those of advanced age are at less risk.

While the exact mechanism behind SAD isn’t entirely understood, there is a consensus that reduced sunlight is part of the reason why this happens. For one, serotonin – a mood regulating chemical that the human body produces – is produced in greater quantities when sunshine is more plentiful.

Melatonin is also understood to be play a prominent role in SAD’s development. With the shorter period of daylight, our circadian rhythm (think of it is as the body’s internal clock) is disrupted and the body overproduces melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps us sleep; explaining why SAD can make you feel lethargic.

For these reasons, one of the most popular treatments for SAD are light therapy lamps, designed to replicate sunlight by producing a very bright light that can “trick” your body into optimizing its serotonin and melatonin production. The experts typically recommend a 10,000-lux light box with 30 minutes of exposure upon waking to start your day off right.

It’s also important to note that you need to have your eyes open while using a SAD lamp, otherwise it won’t be effective. However, due to the potential for eye damage from staring directly into the bright light, you should position the light above you or off to the side. Try reading a book or doing some journaling while using the light to make the most off your time.

Just like any mood disorder, SAD’s severity can differ significantly from person to person and light therapy may not be effective enough on its own to help you handle the winter blues. Talk to your doctor about medical treatments for SAD, including antidepressants; especially if you’re experiencing significant disruption in your day-to-day life.

In previous blogposts, we’ve already shared the benefits of exercise for regulating mood as well the importance of a full night’s rest. These are both critical components to any self-directed approach to addressing SAD.

If you’re waiting for the sounds of spring on a cold morning as an indication that your gloom may soon be gone, try giving these SAD treatments a try and you might find yourself merrier and full of holiday cheer.


EAP Expert V3 Release notes

As of November 1, 2018 we have updated EAP Expert with the following new features and bug fixes.

If you want to learn more or see some of these in action, register for our webinar on Nov 1st where we will be previewing the new features and discussing some of the other key bug fixes. Click here to register.

Features Added 

  • Added ability to restrict New options in the Scheduler Context Menu. 
  • Added a second type of attachment called Secure Attachments to allow for different kinds of attachments with different kinds of security permissions. 
  • Added option to restrict some administrators from using the Edit Model under the Tools Menu 
  • Added ability to manually import Call Center called via CSV file, as well as allowing CSV filetypes to be automatically imported from an FTP 
  • Added check for duplicate office locations when creating new clinical office locations 
  • Users are now unable to delete a file if it has an Authorization that is pushed to Provider Files 
  • Added ability to disable to Primary Counselor prompt when creating an Authorization 

Issues Resolved  

  • Updates SFTP client tool to allow for larger encryption keys to be used 
  • Fixed error when selecting Information Call in the Service Request window 
  • Fixed error when trying to add a contact to an Organizational Service 
  • Fixed error with Work/Life Service Request 
  • Fixed issue with Work/Life files not being included with the Subsidiary Report 
  • Fixed error when trying to add a new file to an existing file that isn’t saved and is missing a required field. 
  • Fixed issue where the system was not showing the error message when a required field was missing 
  • Fixed error that can occur after customizing a layout 
  • Fixed issue with Provider Claims entry not showing column values correctly, remembering the previous authorization number, or changing column values after updating the authorization number 
  • Updates syncing with Provider Files to reduce errors 
  • Improved syncing process and speed with Provider Files 
  • Improved syncing process and speed with Customer Portal 
  • Various improvements on screen loading times throughout the system 
  • Fixed issues with Activity and Session times not calculating correctly 

Items Changed  

  • Updated Email and Website validation throughout the system to be more inclusive and consistent 
  • Changed Authorization Number criteria in the client file search to be a text field instead of a drop down 
  • Changed label on empty search grids to be larger, and suggest reasons why there might not be any results 
  • Action items in toolbars will no longer show up as a dropdown if only one action is available 
  • Sorted the Tools Menu items to be Alphabetical

Creating a new account in EAP Expert Service Desk

Effective Dec 1st, EAP Expert will be officially launching our new Service Desk for all our customer support inquiries and tickets. The current EAP Expert support email (support@eapexpert.com) will no longer work for clients after Dec 1st. All users will receive an autoresponder email asking you to go to support.eapexpert.com to access our new Service Desk after Dec 1st.

We started the process of introducing a new software system for our support team back in June of this year. Many processes needed considering and adjusting to ensure a seamless transition from the old support email to the new Service Desk. Effective immediately, we are very pleased to announce the upcoming launch of our brand-new support ticketing system available today.

Whenever a ticket is required, the improved workflow will enable us to help our users more quickly and more specifically. Also, references to existing helpful entries in our knowledge-base will be easier to provide for our support members under the new system.

Internally, our software development team has been working with a system called “Jira” since June, and the new customer support system is now also based on the same solution. The move away from email driven support towards the “Jira ServiceDesk“ will make many things easier in the future. Ideas and problems can be exchanged more uniformly between end users, developers, and admins. Similarly, we will have a standardized channel of communication between the various units that may be involved in solving a problem.

To prepare for Dec 1st,  all clients should go to our new dedicated web portal at https://support.eapexpert.com and setup an account if you have not already done so.

To setup a new account follow these steps;

  1. Goto https://support.eapexpert.com and click on the sign up as noted below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) In the new window, insert your email address and click “send link”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Check your email for the link to complete the setup transaction

 

 

 

 

 

4) Click on the link provided to you via email and complete the sign process as noted below. Once you have filled in your full name and chosen a password, click sign up and you should be good to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any trouble with any of these steps, please reach out to your account manager or call us directly at 1-855-327-9778


Mitigating your carbon footprint in the workplace

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major report on the state of climate change across the globe. It was bleak. The panel, composed of scientists tapped to guide world leaders, concluded that catastrophic natural events caused by climate change would begin occurring with more frequency and severity much sooner than previously anticipated. The report predicted that by 2040, food shortages and wildfires—among other disasters—would exact a devastating cost on nations around the world. The main instigator of these disasters? Greenhouse gas emissions.

The report’s prescription for damage-control was (as it has always been) simple: reduce our reliance on greenhouse gases immediately. The report concedes that while this is politically unlikely, it is technically possible. And while the lion’s share of carbon emissions are from just a handful of companies, that doesn’t negate the importance of smaller-scale changes in combating climate change. After all, the persistence of greenhouse gases and our global reliance on them is driven by profits. If the demand for these materials begins to decline, carbon-emitting juggernauts will be forced to explore greener alternatives.

Though baby steps towards better consumption practices can feel futile in the face of such daunting circumstances, implementing these changes is vital—especially if, as scientists predict, we are going to be forced to radically shift our ways of life to adapt to the threats we face. Getting ahead of this shift isn’t just ethically sound, it’s smart business practice. Here are a few tips for preparing yourself and your office to reduce your carbon footprints.

Encourage Meatless Mondays

The name is sure to prompt a chuckle, but the practice is sound: switching to one vegetarian meal a week is a gentle transition to rely less on industrial farming operations that use an incredible amount of natural resources and generate huge carbon outputs. Try implementing Meatless Mondays at the office to get people on board with the idea. This can be a fun one, too; perhaps each employee brings in a veggie dish for an herbivorous buffet. Incentivizing positive behaviours is always a useful tool, so consider offering a small prize for the best meal. This will also drive your colleagues to get more creative with their meatless meals—chances are once they see how simple, affordable, and delicious vegetarian dishes can be, they’ll want to make more. Progress begets progress!

Reduce waste in the office

This seems like a no-brainer, and great strides have likely been made in this department over the past few decades. Plastic cups and unsorted garbage and recycling have thankfully gone out of vogue, but if you take a step back to observe your office’s practices, you’ll likely find wasteful practices that could be eliminated. Basic waste-reduction strategies are easy to implement: stock reusable mugs and dishware in the office to discourage folks from using disposable ones. Remove bottled water in favour of a Brita-filter jug. Make sure your office has a green bin for compost and food waste. Use paper products with high post-consumer waste content.

Cut down on business trips

This might be the toughest challenge for workplaces, but it’s also the most crucial. Transportation accounts for roughly 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In 2017, Americans took 462 million one-person business trips. Cutting down on travel means cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Business trips are an engrained and normalized part of most workplaces, even though technology has advanced such that the majority of these trips are unnecessary. Take a hard-line on these: unless it is absolutely critical that someone be present at an event, replace trips with video calls. Strides in virtual reality are making video calls even more immersive, so consider investing in those alternatives to save both money and emissions.