Dr Keith Whitehead MIEMA CEnv shares his experience of delivering the IEMA Foundation in Environmental Management course online and the business, sustainability and personal benefits of doing so.

I recently delivered a British Safety Council’s Live Online IEMA Foundation in Environmental Management remotely via the Zoom video conferencing service, to a group of Health and Safety professionals looking to upskill their environmental qualifications. Originally scheduled to be delivered face to face, the current situation called for a change in delivery, and I significantly changed the delivery methodology of the course material to make it very interactive.

The delegates in attendance were from all over the south east of the UK, so it seemed only fitting that as part of a course centered around sustainability that the students calculated the business, environmental and personal benefits of doing this course remotely and use the data to apply to the course syllabus and for their own businesses. The benefits would be measured in terms of commuting time, travel and accommodation cost and associated travel related carbon savings for both the delegate, their businesses, the group as a whole, and even for the British Safety Council. Working from home has many other additional benefits too, of course.

This was a simple exercise to see how organisations can start to positively measure the impact of homeworking. In fact, this exercise also helped to teach several aspects of the IEMA Foundation in Environmental Management syllabus, so delegates got to apply what they learnt to the course and ultimately to their businesses. Those with ISO14001:2015 Environment Management System and ISO45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management systems in place are now formally incorporating homeworking to the plan, do, check and act cycle. Others, are helping to quantify the economic, environmental and social benefits as part of their own organisations’ approach to improving their triple bottom line sustainability performance. Some have actively mapped the homeworking benefits to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and formalised homeworking as a tool that was never formally implemented before.

Using the British Safety Council’s Live online IEMA Foundation in Environmental Management remote delivery as a case study, the homeworking delegates calculated that cumulatively they saved approximately £1,775 in travel and accommodation costs, 0.25 tonnes of Carbon CO2e from reducing travel and around 16 days in accumulated travel time. All but one of the delegates said that they could work from home if the system was formalised at their businesses. This ranges from a day a week to full time and all mentioned that the current COVID19 crisis had shown their businesses that working from home, albeit enforced at this time, has actually worked well for those staff that could.

It is highly likely that homeworking will now become much more popular for many businesses, so given the sustainability benefits that brings it is only right that businesses report on them as part of their management systems or overall environmental improvements, however big or small.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

Photo of Dr Keith W
Dr Keith Whitehead

Keith has a PhD in Environmental Pollution from Imperial College London. Since graduating, he has worked for over 20 years as a senior environmental consultant, auditor, IEMA registered trainer and university lecturer, both in the UK and internationally and across multiple sectors. He is also the author of the internationally recognised Five Star Environmental and Sustainability audit and Globe of Honour Award and regularly contributes to EHS publications. Keith actively contributes to sustainability charities and is currently an IEMA mentor, and previously an IEMA examination marker.


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