"Our house is on fire" -How to make business travel more sustainable?

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is just around the corner. From January 21 to 24, 2020, Davos in Switzerland will host its famous conference again to address the most pressing issues on the global agenda. Sustainability has already been a topic during our workation at WEF 2019. After a year of “Fridays for Future” this subject now has attracted more awareness than ever before. Here’s a throwback to last year’s meeting and a call for action. “Our house is on fire” - that is what Greta Thunberg said last year at Davos. She was just named TIME’s person of the year 2019. Finally, largely thanks to her, climate change and sustainability are top of the news and there’s more pressure on our whole society to make changes in order to save our planet.

During our workation at Davos during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2019, we had the opportunity to meet and listen to Greta Thunberg. Her words back then: "I would like to see that people realize the emergency of the situation and realize what needs to be done. And that we speak clearly and not try to quiet it down. And then act from there."


Being asked the follow-up question, whether she thinks that business leaders have a specific responsibility, Greta Thunberg replied: "Yes, I mean everyone has a responsibility, more or less, but the bigger your platform is, the bigger your carbon footprint is, the bigger your power is, the more responsibility you have."


Our take on sustainability


Out of Office Workations enables teams to meet at unique locations to both be productive and connect as a team. So we of course care immensely about the question "How to make business travel more sustainable?". We do believe strongly that team workations add value. Team collaboration, company development, innovation and getting to know new places and people are only some of the benefits, where a different impact can be achieved by "getting out of the office".


At the same time, we advocate to really decide consciously, when a physical team meeting or team trip is the right solution, and when there are more environment-friendly ways of connecting as a team. Either by meeting at the office or by meeting virtually, online.

Whenever team travel is the best solution for the team to achieve a certain goal, Out of Office Workations helps to make the workation as sustainable as possible and reduce the carbon footprint. Co-founder Anne-Marie explains: "Sustainable travel is really important for us when organizing workations. First of all, we look that the workation location is not too far from where the team is located or where most of the team members are located, because you can really find nice places not far from home and it also helps to support the local economy."


She continues, elaborating on additional examples of how Out of Office Workations makes workations more sustainable: "We look that we collaborate with local businesses. We source local food, local activities. We really like to work with houses that are built in a sustainable manner and that really have the right values. We choose very special locations for the workations. So it's not your usual conference hotel, but it's really smaller houses, family hotels, whatever fits for your team and the size of your team."

What our clients think


The clients love and support that. Uta is the co-founder of GOhiring, a German startup company that has already booked two workations with Out of Office Workations. Here's what she told us about their recent workation: "We had looked at different options all over Europe where we could go with the team and we found this nice place which is just 2 hours from Berlin, which is not too far. You don't have to go there with an airplane but you can go with the train. It is really amazing, because that also means much less logistics and it is quite sustainable."

What people at Davos think


What do other business leaders do to reduce their carbon footprint? Out of Office Workations organized a meetup during the World Economic Forum to discuss this question. Participants included CEOs and Tech investors as well as Sustainability Managers and Digital Nomads. First of all, it was stated that we still have a long way to go. The topic hasn't been enough on the agenda in the past. Only now, when awareness of the effects of climate change is rising, they start to feel empowered to push for more sustainability in their business travel.


One participant summarized: "At the end, the pressure comes bottom up. Companies now are paying attention". While the group thinks that there is benefit in meeting face-to-face, they agreed that business travel can be organized more effectively and can be enhanced by technology. Another participant added to the conversation: "Maybe it is more sustainable to meet once and get a lot done and then the technology should enhance; I also think we are lucky that we live in such a great environment right now, where we can do so much."

The conversation made us rethink how we can raise even more awareness for sustainable travel and reduce our ecological footprint. Here are some ideas: 
1. Think twice which meetings to do face-to-face, and which can be done virtually
2. Plan ahead to bundle several business meetings in one trip
3. Give back or pay forward to the community at the destination
4. Share transportation as much as possible
5. Donate to compensate for your carbon footprint
6. Use environmentally-friendly transport - like the sledge!

What do you think and do?


What are your best practices for sustainable travel? Less face-to-face meetings? More environmentally-friendly transport? Getting the most out of every business trip? Giving back to society? We'd love to continue this conversation! Contact us at hello@workation.works.


More information about the WEF 2020

 This article was written by Anne-Marie Jentsch, co-founder of Out of Office Workations and owner of Out of Office Consulting.