Step by step, a clear vision and proactivity: the ingredients of the sustainability course of Arxus. Erlend Schenkels tells us about the importance of sustainability within Arxus and the way in which he and the team work together on an ecologic and sustainable company.
Do you believe that as a company, you should go along with the sustainability flow, in order to stay ahead of the competition?
“Absolutely. For starters, we want to help build a viable future for everyone. That is the most important driver. At the same time, we want to prepare Arxus for the future. When companies proactively respond to new rules concerning sustainability, they will gain a competitive advantage over companies who do not deal with them. Whenever there is a law amendment implemented, this will have a minimal impact on our business model.”
Do you have an example of proactive thinking and proactive acting?
“Years ago, we have chosen for ecologic datacenters. 100% of the energy used in Interxion comes from sustainable sources. This choice was made year ago, but still fits perfectly in our vision.”
“Another example is the mobility plan. Many companies will have make a drastic shift when within a few years employers exclusively can offer electric company cars. Companies that have proactively responded to this, who have included their employees in the story will be able to make the transition much easier.”
What does the mobility plan looks like at Arxus?
“At 2020, we want to have a car park which is 50% electric. We opt for completely electric, because we do not believe in the hybrid intermediate market. During 2020, exceptions will be allowed for colleagues who are still tied to their current car, but no new cars with combustion engines will be ordered from then on.”
With the mobility budget there are, in addition to the car, alternative means of transport. How do you want to enter this at Arxus?
“We offer a mix of an electric car, an electric bike, a step and a compensation for public transport. We make sample packages, but ultimately, the choice is with the employee.”
What about employees who have to take the plane? For example to attend a conference?
“We question every trip and look at alternative means of transport in the first place. When there is not another option, we fly with KLM. This company makes it possible to offset the CO2 emissions of the flight. The proceeds from this are invested in projects that capture CO2 elsewhere, for example the reforestation projects in Panama.”
What about alternatives to prevent or limit movement?
“We have worked out various possibilities that not only have a huge impact on the environment, but also on traffic jams and therefore employee satisfaction. For example, we have worked out a working from home policy whereby we allow everyone to work at home one day a week. In this manner, we achieve a 20% reduction in commuter traffic. In addition, we also want to work with flex offices. For example, we will soon be opening an office in Limburg. Colleagues from that region have a workplace closer to home and have to travel great distances more to our head office in Kontich. Finally, we also work with Microsoft Teams to organize online meetings and to be able to work remotely. We also promote this product to our customers.”
How do you involve the team in this story?
“By doing sustainable entrepreneurship, we demonstrate that we invest not only in the future of Arxus, but also in that of our people. Sustainability often seems more expensive, but it is an investment that will pay for itself in the future. Sustainable entrepreneurship is also embedded in the strategic vision of our company. We communicate this to the team on a regular basis. We also organize campaigns on a regular basis to create and increase awareness.”
“Classics are, ‘the thick sweater days’ and annual cycling days.”
Do you see many possibilities regarding sustainable transition?
“Certainly, every little bit helps. Many actions can create a large difference. We have changed the cardboard cups with ‘Dopper’ bottles, which we fill with filtered tap water. We also thrive for a paperless office. We do not use flyers, sales presentations or other printed documents that have no added value for our (potential) customers. We request that documents are delivered digitally as much as possible. Our administration and invoicing is done digitally.”
“We also recently had a Gingerwald Juice Corner installed at the office. Fresh fruit and vegetables cost a some money. But in this way, we can offer our team a daily portion of health. In addition, the juice shots are grown regionally, so we also contribute to a more sustainable workplace in this way. "
Does sustainable entrepreneurship became mainstream or do you believe there is still a lot of work to be done?
“Sustainable entrepreneurship is certainly not mainstream. With regard to Arxus, we often catch ourselves with the fact that certain processes are not yet sustainable (enough). For example, we have many suppliers whose sustainability we have not checked. Although our own operations are being examined, it is important to think further and to see whether partners and suppliers also operate in a sustainable manner.”
What are the challenges? Which things do you see running less smoothly?
“The biggest challenge for us is finding out how certain things are established and what the underlying processes are. Only as soon as this is properly mapped out, it can be checked whether it is sustainable or not. From then on, it is also important to decide whether the sustainable way of working for that specific task is the right decision. Maintaining a good balance between being able to work smoothly and working sustainably is crucial. "
Does sustainability also play a role in your daily life?
“I have been doing this much more consciously in recent years. The recent ‘CurieusNeuzen’ study in particular was a wake-up call for me. I eat less meat, I use drinking water in a good way, I limit packaging and of course, I recycle. A first step, but I am convinced that we can have a major impact if everyone handles these day-to-day affairs in a conscious way and if we are going to extend it to other areas. "