Research exposes the reality behind small business’ decisions to invest in green technologies, highlighting that cost is the overriding factor for 70 per cent of small businesses IT decision makers.
The research shows that the intention to be more environmentally friendly exists – 84 per cent said they would like their business to be greener; however limitations such as cost, stated by over half the respondents (54 per cent), and lack of understanding, stated by a third (30 per cent), has held small businesses back from making the move to become greener.
The research, launched in the run up to Energy Saving Week (25-31 October), surveyed 1,000 IT decision makers from small businesses (less than 250 employees) across a variety of industry sectors in the UK including those in manufacturing, financial services, retail and hospitality. The research aims to uncover the attitudes and motivations of those making decisions about IT and technology in small businesses to determine the desires and key drivers for environmental change.
Why do small businesses want to be greener?
When asked simply, ‘Why would you like to be greener?’ almost half of the respondents said it was to help save the environment (46 per cent), suggesting there is a genuine ambition to become more environmentally friendly amongst UK small businesses. Over a third said their motivation was due to the potential cost saving (31 per cent), and just over one in ten felt it would help their corporate image (11 per cent).
What’s holding us back?
Although the desire to become greener exists, when faced with the reality, other factors come into play. Despite government and business commitments to environmental initiatives increasing in recent times, there has been understandable concern that today’s tough climate could make the environment a casualty of the economic downturn.
Over half (52 per cent) of IT decision makers in small businesses admitted that cost implications have held them back from making green decisions for their businesses in the past, although lack of knowledge comes a close second with almost a third (30 per cent) admitting that they had put off investing in green because they were not sure how to become greener.
Surprisingly, 27 per cent of respondents said that making ‘green decisions’ had not entered the business decision-making process in the past and almost a quarter (24 per cent) said that they had ‘not got round to it’ indicating that the environment isn’t at the top of many decision makers priority lists.
When it comes to implementing new technology, cost is still clearly the main motivator within small businesses, with 70 percent of respondents stating this as their main decision making factor. However, almost a quarter (24 per cent) said the environment was their main motivator – a surprisingly high percentage given the current climate.
The ‘green’ league
The research shows that the financial services industry places the most importance on the environment when it comes to choosing green technology, compared to other industries; conversely the manufacturing, leisure and hospitality industries choose cost as the main motivation when choosing green technology.
What is your greatest motivator when deciding to change technology to make it more energy efficient?
During the recession, roll-out of greener products slowed as the replacement of older products was deferred to try and reduce outgoings. However, small businesses are now realising the importance of improving their green credentials – to help save the environment, reduce their outgoings and improve their corporate image. An initial outlay on greener products, such as printers and projectors, will prove more cost-effective in the long run as they offer money and energy saving features that older products simply do not have.
Top tips on how small businesses can go greener during Energy Saving Week include:
- Set printers to duplex – some models include automatic double-sided printing as standard
- Look for printers with an environmental accreditation such as the Energy Saving approved logo or ENERGY STAR qualification
- Turn projectors off at the end of the day, rather than keeping them on standby – some allow remote monitoring and control, so projectors can be programmed to switch off each evening, helping to reduce running costs.