Why businesspeople fly when they don’t have to

Culture change for Net Zero

Back in 2019 B.C (‘Before Covid’), I started doing research into the reasons for business air travel. Many businesspeople I spoke to said that much of their business travel was unnecessary and avoidable: two three-hour flights just to attend a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation; or travelling to a client meeting just to show that they ‘cared more’ than their competitors did…

They were increasingly uneasy about the climate impact of these trips. Of course, Covid halted business air travel faster than my research could. But, sad to say, these habits are returning. Yes, virtual meetings and remote working have changed the business travel landscape, but we are still flying, when we don’t have to.

Why is this? Leadership expectations, organisational habits, or client pressure can dominate and overwhelm individual attitudes or intentions. Unwritten cultural rules (“how we do things around here”) have greater say over behaviour than corporate policy. And there’s the fear of missing out if you’re the only one on Zoom when everyone else is in the room.

In a company-specific study last year, I found a large majority of employees felt a moral obligation to make changes to how they get their work done because of the climate crisis. But they didn’t feel supported by the company in making these changes.

Yes of course, we need to amend our travel policies to support ‘green travel’, and to ensure employees can access high quality virtual meeting technology. But we will fail to make serious emissions reductions if we don’t pay attention to the role of organisational culture too.  

NetZero.Work’s culture map shows that there are three circles of a Net-Zero-supportive organisational culture.

We offer a high-level review of your latest employee survey data, looking for the Net-Zero gaps and opportunities through the lens of this culture map.

How might your organisational culture stack up against this…? Contact me to discuss how NetZero.Work can help.

Photo credit: xx liu