How and where will we work in the future? What values will govern society and the corporate sector? Following extensive research and hundreds of interviews with leading decision makers, Kinnarps has ringed in the eight most important trends impacting on our time. Here is a summary of the first section: From cradle to cradle – the significance of a sustainable environmental mindset!
A range of astounding observations have been made in the past few months on the roof of Price Waterhouse Cooper's new and magnificent headquarters in London. Birds not seen for decades in the English capital have started building nests, and a number of rare insect species believed to be extinct forever have been seen buzzing amongst the chimneys. A most unexpected and vibrant fauna to say the least.
So what has actually happened at the world's largest accounting firm?
The explanation is as simple as it is encouraging - when the house was built the architects made use of the latest environmental findings. The building is the first in England to receive the "Outstanding" certificate from BREEAM which is world's leading organisation when it comes to environmental rating systems. Through an entirely new recycling mindset, the skyscraper is an extremely good example of one the most significant winds of change in our society – care for our environment.
But let us wander down a number of floors, from the newly awakened animal life amongst the ventilation shafts and the satellite dishes on the roof, to the Chairman of the Board Dennis Nally's office. He says when asked to comment:
"We as a company have to act in an ethical and credible manner when it comes to environmental issues. Ultimately it is completely necessary to be able to keep talented staff members on board and assert our position in a world of ever tougher competition. It is then obvious that we also have to build in the most environmentally friendly way possible."
This is an insight shared by a growing number of companies. Slowly but surely society is moving toward a new awareness, where environment, ethics and sustainability are of increasing significance as to how customers and consumers makes their choices.
"An environmentally sustainable working life is a given! Users are becoming more and more demanding," says Christina Bodin Danielsson at the Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University.
This is an attitude change that has primarily taken hold among today's younger generation. People born in the 80's and 90's do not accept companies that "greenwash" their corporate profile for show – sustainability has to be a natural part of operations and inspired by genuine and honest commitment. We do not want to buy a product from a company that does not play by the rules, not to mention taking on employment and working for such a company. We might instead go home and post an irate comment on social media. For the first time in history, the individual citizen actually has a unique opportunity to have their voice heard and really impact on companies and authorities in a way not previously possible.
"Companies not playing by the CSR* rules will have a hard time in the future," predicts Henrik Axell, Kinnarps' Concept Developer of Next Office – Activity Based Working.
One concept that comes up often in interviews conducted during the work with the Trend Report is Planet, People and Profit – the three P's. Which environmental, social and economical footprints are we leaving behind for future generations? Where is the product manufactured? How was the process carried out? From a holistic point of view it is becoming more and more important to consider the environmental aspects - and also to consider what happens when we have passed on from this world. We are beginning to understand the full meaning of the fact that we are really only borrowing the planet.
One company at the forefront of this work is McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, which has registered the Cradle to Cradle brand, where the focus is to create a system that does not leave behind any waste. Everything is included in a closed ecosystem. A solution and vision that is becoming more and more urgent.
"You can no longer stand out from the crowd by just declaring you care about the environment – it is now expected that everyone does what they can", says Derek Barker, CEO at Haskoll. In other words, the time is past when it was enough to appease one's conscience just by offsetting emissions for staff flights. Neither can companies hide behind the assumption that environmental investments may be too costly. On the contrary. New research evidence shows that companies which assume a green profile are 16 times more productive than companies which do not.
Other bonus effects of having an active environmental mindset are profitable energy savings, and in certain countries companies are also rewarded for having environmentally efficient offices through tax breaks. It will mean a major competitive advantage for companies to be at the forefront of environmental work.
"We have to identify which of today's sources of raw materials in production will become scarce in the future so as to know if we can find replacements. We also have to establish ecosystems with products that can easily be dismantled and recycled. This may not be sustainable today from a financial point of view but it will be the case down the line when there is a doubling of the world's population. It is therefore important that we are ready", says Liv Tveter, CEO at Kinnarps Norge.
Those companies that successfully make this transition – showing that they take responsibility both environmentally as well as socially – will be tomorrow's winners.
According to a major American survey (PWC Survey Millenials at work), 86 per cent of all young professionals stated that they would change jobs if their employer did not fulfil their CSR obligations*.
* Corporate Social Responsibility
THIS IS HOW KINNARPS WORKS!
What are Kinnarps' thoughts on the environment and sustainability – and how can we inspire other companies? Environmental Manager Tomas Ekström and Elisabeth Slunge, Brand/Range/Design director at Kinnarps was asked the following six important questions.
Elisabeth Slunge Brand/Range/Design director Tomas Ekström Environmental Manager
What should one keep in mind when looking for a more environmentally smart workplace?
Request environmental certifications for the furniture and colours used to furnish the office. In this way, companies can for instance ensure that the world's forests are being managed in a sustainable manner and that no toxic chemicals are being used in production.
Make the most of the office space and avoid having areas that are not put to use.
What environmental demands are placed on your suppliers?
In addition to all our suppliers having to comply with Swedish and European legislation, all the materials supplied are Nordic Ecolabel accredited. We also ensure that our suppliers and subcontractors comply with the UN's Global Compact initiative, which asks companies to embrace principles relating to human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruption. It is our conviction that social and environmental issues are tightly interlinked.
What are the greatest challenges facing you in terms of environment and sustainability?
Kinnarps is working continuously to develop methods to for instance reduce the volume of chemicals used in our production. Besides this, there are discussions as to how we can apply a more "Cradle to Cradle" approach, where the products can be reused and recycled completely without degrading them. To succeed we are looking at alternative materials and new ways to construct the furniture.
How can sustainability lead to increased profits?
Our customers request sustainable alternatives and as we have a clear sustainable approach, our business benefits. A sustainable approach is also important to attract well-educated and competent staff.
Describe a green project that Kinnarps supports.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), responsible for instance for red-listing species, wanted to build the first Platinum certified house according to the LEED standard. Kinnarps supplied all the furniture for the interiors. We were, for instance, chosen for our commitment to sustainable forestry management (FSC).
What steps are you taking to reduce CO2 emissions in your factories?
Today, our factories in Kinnarp and Skillingaryd are heated with briquettes made from waste from our production. This means that Kinnarps has reduced its CO2 emissions by hundreds of thousands of tonnes according to our calculations. We also carry out regular inspections and seal any compressed air leaks which are normally major energy guzzlers in our industry.