Use Sustainability Practices for Effective Communications & Meetings

Today, we are all bombarded with an incessant flow of incoming “messages” 24/7 with communications coming in a variety of forms and types.

Companies and organizations are afloat in emails with many managers receiving 100-200 messages per day. There has also become an expectation that upon receipt of an email you are to respond immediately no matter whether on the clock or during off hours.

These statistics are staggering creating time management issues for all of us. Many meetings are becoming “ineffective” with some participants texting and sending emails resulting in a loss of attention to the details being discussed. Issues concerning emails and other communications can add up to poor use of company and organization time, increased costs, and lost opportunities.

So, what is driving the increase in overall communications and how can sustainability address the concerns being raised?

Real-time data is one of the driving forces as the need increases for instant access to information. Employees, as well as organization/company shareholders and stakeholders, want to know more about operations than ever about both resource management and community service—making transparency and accountability key requirements for everyone today.

Sustainability best practices do play an important role in improving overall messaging and communications. Using key performance measurements, organizations and companies can track productivity improvements and cost efficiencies as well as reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact.

How can we improve efficiencies in our communications? The following are a few suggestions for holding effective and value-added meetings:

  1. Determine specific agendas and desired outcomes for meetings.

      • Set meetings with desired outcomes, such as for those strategies and action items that can be directly tied to tactical and strategic plans of importance.
      • Productivity measurements can be established for these meetings to ensure accountability and progress against milestones.
  2. Pre-reading and follow up materials should be sent out to everyone in a timely fashion.

    • Send pre-meeting materials electronically—including agendas, minutes, and attachments—to reduce the use of paper and reduce the overall environmental footprint.
    • Send out meeting minutes (electronically) soon after the meeting takes place with specific follow-up responsibilities and a timeline for completion.
  3. Establish an ongoing glossary of terms, if needed, as well as a sustainability buzzword list.

    • The marketplace is full of new terms, words, and definitions. For example, is the economy “new,” “sustainable,” “green,” “clean tech,” etc.?
    • Having a shared, common definition of jargon and company terminology improves communications, increases awareness, and creates better understanding for team members and overall decision making.
  4. Provide the capabilities for attendees to attend via telephone and videoconferencing.

    • Go-To meetings and other web based programs offer this capability for increased efficiencies.
    • There are also a number of videoconferencing programs such as OoVoo, Skype, Google Chat, and Blackboard Collaborative that can be used to connect those from distant locations for improved communications and learning outcomes.
    • Key performance measurements include savings on travel costs and lodging as well as an overall reduction in the carbon footprint.
  5. Develop an organizational intranet where shared files can be easily accessed, such as HR and company documents.

    • Urgent postings and announcements can also be included to eliminate unnecessary communications.
    • It’s also a great place to house those glossaries and common templates.
  6. Hold meetings with value-added stakeholders outside of your normal team or group.

    • Rather than just hold internal informational sharing meetings, these types of meetings would gather tactical and strategic input that could lead to better and improved overall consensus decision-making.
    • Meetings with additional stakeholders—such as suppliers, customers, and partners—can provide insights into opportunities for even more efficiencies in effort, expense, and environmental impact.

This article is contributed by Norman Christopher, Executive Director at the Grand Valley State University Sustainable Community Development Initiative and author of Sustainability Demystified!