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COP26: Green and grow your practice, save money AND decarbonise

12th Nov 2021
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As COP26 comes to an end there either will or won’t be some globally agreed pledge.  That pledge will either be honoured or not.  Global warming will either be restricted to 1.5 degrees or it won’t.  Only time will tell.

But, decarbonising our businesses isn’t just something we can do for our planet, these days it can also be the spark to improving efficiency and increasing profits.

Here are some ideas:

Switching to the cloud
There are lots of good reasons to switch to the cloud:

  • flexible working from home or office or share your date live in your client’s offices
  • improved business continuity
  • enhanced software integrations
  • business efficiencies, etc

But it can also be part of your practice’s de-carbonisation plans.

Nothing is cut and dried - for example if your practice is 100% self-sufficient in solar energy then it may not be greener to switch - but generally speaking, having an on-site server means that you will:

  • be responsible for a larger carbon footprint than in the cloud.  Individual onsite servers will normally be less efficient than the comparable energy consumption for storing that same data in the cloud (efficiency gains over the last 10 years mean that the energy consumption by the large cloud servers has remained static even as their storage capacity has grown);
  • carry "spare" storage and hardware than you require for your everyday usage (which means more kit and more energy than you need most of the time);
  • your onsite servers will take up additional space in your offices that could be used more efficiently, and
  • double all of the above points when you factor in your off-site back up storage.

Paper payslips require:

  • Paper
  • Ink
  • Printers
  • Delivery/postage and delivery

Each one of those steps wastes resources, consumes energy and releases carbon (as well as making your practice less efficient and less profitable).

E-payslips in a true cloud payroll software are efficient, automated and “live” in the cloud (the vast majority are not printed by the end user, saving reams of paper).

Accounting and payroll softwares produce lots of data and lots of reports (for internal and external consumers).

How many of those reports actually get read?  How many get re-printed on each subsequent re-reading?

Reports have exactly the same types of carbon and energy usage as payslips.  Moving to a true cloud software means that those reports can be distributed automatically, efficiently and with minimal physical consumption.

The paperless office exists - it’s a choice these days, not a pipedream.

Working from home
Most of us have spent time working from home at some point over the last 18 months or so.

Some companies that have been using desktop softwares have had a computer running in the office just so that employees can access the desktop software remotely on a separate computer.  Apart from the inconvenience to all involved, that means 2 machines doing the job of 1 (and you can’t nip into the office to turn off the 2nd one every night).

Needless to say, true cloud software means that you can work from anywhere with the internet and reduce you and your team’s commuting carbon footprint.

Client meetings
Remember when you used to drive 2 hours to visit a client for an hour and then had to drive back?  Yup, long ago back in the days of 2019.

We hardly need to mention the efficiency of Zoom/Team meetings - but they are also good for the environment too.

There is a slight conundrum in that apparently there is an extra 1kg of CO2 released if your video is turned on for an hour - that’s down to your own conscience, but still less costly to the planet than driving to a meeting (or eating asparagus flown in from Peru……).

Search Engines
Not all cloud servers and not all search engines are not created equal. 

Ecosia (a search engine) claims to be carbon negative based on the fact that it produces double the amount of solar power than it consumes.  It also plants a tree in one of it’s locally run global projects for every 45 searches (approximately) from it’s advertising revenues.

But even the mainstream search engines and the large cloud servers all have environmental plans.  The major costs they incur are in terms of energy, so they all work hard on minimising their energy usage for profitability reasons.  They are regularly ranked - but there are always other factors in choosing a cloud platform, such as security, resilience etc.

Other small changes
Most of the other changes are going to be the same things that you’d think about for your home, e.g.:

  • turn down the office thermostat by a degree or two (do you really need to be working only in a pair of shorts in December?);
  • turn off the lights when not in the office;
  • turn off all of those devices on standby (e.g. printers, screens etc), especially at the end of the day and over the weekend;
  • can you live with one monitor for some tasks or days?
  • bring in your lunch from home rather than succumbing to that daily meal deal;
  • change energy supplier to one focussed on renewables (if this is an option);
  • if looking for new office space, try and find something in a well-insulated building with good public transport links, and/or
  • don’t print unnecessary documents (which will also reduce printer rage when your printer refuses to print a black and white document because the cyan cartridge has run out).

If nothing else, all of these things will help reduce costs and improve profitability - reducing your businesses’ carbon footprint doesn’t have to be motivated by good intentions.


KeyPay is a fully cloud payroll software used by hundreds of accountants, bureaus and bookkeepers for it’s convenience and efficiency.  If you are interested in finding out more please visit our website or why not take out a free trial and see for yourself.