Nortel is using remote technology to reduce its carbon footprint The trek to work in the morning is a thing of the past for 10 per cent of Canadian communications equipment maker Nortel's international workforce. These employees, mostly based in the US and Europe, are hooked up to the office via a home computer and can access the internet, intranet and all the other facilities they require while making coffee in the comfort of their kitchens. A further 85 per cent of Nortel's staff are equipped with laptop computers so they can work remotely if they wish. By offering staff the opportunity to work in this way, petrol, power and energy are saved, and the environmental and financial costs involved in running a large office space are eliminated. Equally, when staff in Singapore want to discuss project details with their London counterparts, they head to the video conferencing room rather than the airport. Keeping staff on the ground and close to home not only makes for a happier life, but is an act of corporate social responsibility. Each flight not taken by an executive or salesperson reduces the carbon footprint of the company. 'In the future we will be sitting around virtual tables at virtual conferences,' said Eric Lauzon, chief information officer of Nortel Asia. 'We might be sitting beside a colleague from across the globe, thousands of miles away, and yet we could whisper to that colleague as if they were sitting right beside us.' Like Nortel, the pioneers of video conferencing technology are positioning their products as a socially and environmentally responsible alternative to air travel. But there are many other less overt ways that companies can use their IT resources to reduce their carbon footprint. Company-wide policies such as switching off computers at the end of the day, switching all monitors to LCD screens that use less power, recycling and reusing old hardware, and even printing on both sides of recycled paper, all stand to help companies clean up their act.