• Liv-Hege Seglsten

Covid-19 and Climate Change

Cancellations of conferences, meetings and courses are ticking in every hour since I logged in at my new “HQ home office” this morning.

The corona virus outbreak has seen widespread changes in human behaviour. Restaurants, cafés, bars, schools, day care centres and many companies all over Norway have been advised if not ordered to close or dramatically limit operations. Companies have been encouraged to alter everyday operations by suggesting employees to work from home, which also turn out reducing congestion and enhancing air quality. Corona virus has cut emissions faster than years of climate negotiations.

Does the outbreak reveal what life might be like if we were to act seriously on climate change? Or what it might be like if we don't? Could this be the dawn of time for new climate-positive habits in work life? Can we take advantage of the communication vacuum which stems from Norway shutting down to control corona? – And make the next generation carbon efficient work life!

New digital platforms

Last year I visited the “We Don’t Have Time” Climate Conference 2019. This was the world's first public global no-fly climate conference and a social network for climate action. The digital conference had two stages in order to fit all the exciting content. Some of the keynotes where well-known scientist, public speakers, policy and decision makers. By inviting stakeholders, artists, activists, grassroots movements, start-ups, and corporations to join in a digital platform, the event makers manage curating a unique, solution-oriented digital event. Keynote speakers and panel discussions where carried out in an interesting and compelling way. And the event all took place at my office in Molde. No travel expenses, no extra time use or hassles. Just a mentally and academic refill of knowledge, new perspectives and connections. All I had to do was to download an app to fully enjoy the event.

Today we see that universities switch to online courses due to coronavirus. All lectures, seminars and courses are moved online. And the students work from home. Business leaders should be inspired by this. For most people, the ability to work remotely is the holy grail of corporate perks.

If I can’t see them, how do I know they`re working?

As companies must let control go and give the whole workforce the option to work remotely due to corona, trust will become increasingly important for managers to understand, embody, and ultimately spread across their workforce. Remote working employees will need to learn to build their trust portfolio in ways that aren’t so outwardly obvious. Lack of trust reduces transparency and communication.

If trust was not in place before the corona outbreak, working remotely will increase problems due to low confidence.

We know from studies that, apart from a few downsides, employees improve the quality of their lives by working remotely and releasing their tether to specific places near their employers. While remote work has blurred some of the boundaries between their work lives and their personal lives, informants say they’re happier and often more productive than they’d been at traditional offices. There’s less distraction from people talking in the office and we have the ability to concentrate. It is also a boon for parents who need more flexibility in their schedules to accommodate childcare, school events, and sick kids, though trying to work from home with children has its own pitfalls.

When the Great Recession hit back in 2008, many companies downsized their office space to save money and began allowing, or even encouraging, employees to work from home. But what was born from necessity has stuck around long after the economy rebounded. It turned out that remote work has benefits besides cheaper office rent. Will we experience the same after Covid-19?

Of course, this consider a variety of ways of working. To be a “digital nomad” also have concerns managers and employees have to deal with. When you only see teammates in chat or a weekly video call, it’s hard to develop the tight-knit camaraderie that makes for truly great teams. Some of the other concerns are building an in-house culture, managing productivity, how to handle a hands on training, onboarding process, coaching and mentoring remotely, and making sure that the internal system is being implemented so that we have consistent service delivery by a remote team. In Salmon Evolution we solve some of these issues with being proven to devote time to daily digital meetings with both professional and social content.

I think the flexibility is a key success factor that can promote both carbon productivity at workplaces and in society in general. Think about the reduction in carbon footprint we can make if we travel less, or reduce the need for building new roads by reduce the number of vehicles in morning rush in our cities by up to an order of magnitude and end the appalling costs of pollution, accidents and congestion caused by excessive car use.

A new down for carbon effective work life

Maybe this is a good time for learn end experience new ways of carrying out the inner life in workplaces by efficient use of digital channels and platforms. If not on a permanent basis, but as an addition and new way to make the organisation more effective and more carbon productive by travelling less and use less time and money preparing for socials meeting that very well could be carrying out on digital platforms. Building time for connection and bonding outside of the digital arenas will of course be of even greater importance because it will always be easier to build affective trust outside formal digital work environments.

There are several digital platforms and channels for meetings, conferences, courses and communication. We got the technology. It remains to be creative in the use. The next generation business can place the company as a node in an online and offline community of work-life. The network effect can take many forms that drive growth and quality into new dimensions and perspectives important for leadership effectiveness.

Do corona and climate call for a new generation of leaders?

If we should succeed with new workplace platforms, I believe we need leaders that have trust in their employees. Most fears that have to do with people working remotely stem from a lack of trust. A manager thinks, will people work hard if I`m not watching them all the time? People have an amazing ability to live down to low expectation. If you run your work staff with the convection that everyone`s slacker, your colleges will put all their ingenuity into proving you’re right. Therefore, we need to find and hire leaders that handle this new way of organizing the next generation of workplace. Digital leadership abilities don’t grow organically. Developing them must be a conscious effort.

The major difficulty is that developing solutions to climate change involves dramatic alterations to the ways in which we live – everything must alter. This initially will involve minor incremental adaptation but would rapidly require revolutionary change. There are in fact several similarities in the corona and climate change issue. Let’s take the great opportunities to learn from what now unfolds from the whole situation.

Everyone who has to crack a laptop potentially has the freedom of working remotely and participate in climate positive and Corona negative meetings, social events, conferences, courses and networking.


wish you all the best during times with covid-19. Looking forward to giving you all an analog hug!

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