Support for sustainable businesses
Free support for businesses to reduce carbon emissions
Free support for businesses in the Winchester district is now available to help begin your journey to net zero, with access to grant funding to assist financial investments.
Please note that the deadline for this is the end of April 2023.
Meercat has been selected by Winchester City Council to help reduce your carbon emissions and access the grant funding. Their support is free of charge and includes one-to-one consultations, online webinars and events.
The support includes Zero, Meercat’s certified support programme with a personal Carbon Coach and advice to businesses to produce a Net Zero Strategy and Action Plan. It also includes marketing support with certificates, logos and other artwork to help you win new business, meet tender criteria and improve your overall company image.
The service is funded by Winchester City Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the grant assistance is administered by the Clean Growth Programme of Low Carbon Across the South and East (LoCASE).
Grants can cover 40% of expenditure towards business growth, up to a maximum of £10,000 and green audits may also be offered to businesses where more intensive work is required.
Meercat are hosting monthly webinars entitled “Starting your business journey to net zero” to introduce their work and answer questions from businesses. They have set up a dedicated webpage at www.meercatassociates.com/winchester and businesses can call them on 01444 416529 during normal office hours.
Go greener faster with the hybrid working model for your business
What is a hybrid workplace model? The hybrid workplace model offers employees the flexibility to work a percentage of their working hours from home, as well as in the office.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the work from home advice shifted opinions of those who could work from home. Working from home became popular for many different reasons from creating a better work life balance, to reducing commuting costs and carbon emissions. This helped to lower the carbon footprint of both businesses and its employees.
Post pandemic the flexible work is here to stay and the hybrid works helping to recruit and retain staff. Hybrid working gives the best of both worlds: the social aspects of working physically alongside colleagues, together with the lifestyle benefits of working from home.
If the model is planned carefully and strategically, it has the potential to improve your business in several ways:
Increased productivity, staff satisfaction, culture and retention
Adopting a hybrid working model in a business can offer the flexibility to employees to work in ways that are most effective for them, which in turn could boost productivity due to aiding them to have an improved work-life balance.
By welcoming a culture that understands remote working as a positive alternative to completing work patterns in an office, teams can find a good balance of creativity, collaboration and productivity. Ensuring the working model holds a strong mix of synchronous and asynchronous elements is vital and will depend on workload and timing.
Employees who prefer quiet time to focus or those who thrive in an office setting can be given the choice to work where and when they’re most productive and schedule their time around their workload.
Offering a hybrid working model could also increase staff retention due to offering flexibility and allowing employees to have more control over their work schedules.
Increased possibilities for staff development
It is tough on a day-to-day basis to be performance-driven and not having the time to include long-term development for employees. When the workday comprises of back-to-back meetings, this doesn’t give employees enough mental capacity to process information or reflect. Employees gaining more timeout from busy environments could use this time to focus on more training and progression tasks.
Improved mental health of employees
A hybrid working model could enhance employee’s mental health due to having the flexibility over their work pattern. Giving employees choice as to how and where they get their work done is also empowering, giving them occasional freedom from not having to commute or dress up, providing them more variety in their day-to-day and demonstrates trust in the individual, potentially leading to better employee engagement.
The work-life balance is a vital element to create a healthy working environment. Enabling employees to fit their work and life together in a way that works for them would help prevent burnout and reduce stress.
If a business introduced full time remote working, this would lower the level of human interaction the employees have, which can adversely affect their mental health. With the hybrid working model, the employees would essentially have the best of both worlds.
Reduced carbon footprint
A flexible, hybrid work model can help businesses become more environmentally sustainable by the reduction of emissions through less business travel and fewer commutes to work.
By lowering the number of employees commuting every day the air quality would be improved, historic buildings would be protected, there could be fewer road traffic incidents and the roads would be quieter and safer for active travel and schoolchildren.
To further reduce business carbon footprints, employers could also implement sustainable travel plans for their organisations to ensure that when employees do travel for work, it is done with the least possible carbon emissions. Hampshire County Council offers information on how to write and implement sustainable travel plans for employees.
In addition to this, Winchester City Council has a free-of-charge service offering free support to help organisations apply for funding and to produce carbon reduction action plans.
Lower business costs
Aa hybrid model means there will be less people at any given time using the physical office space. This would mean that the business would be saving on utilities, such as heat and electricity.
Due to the workforce spending less time in the physical work place, the opportunity arises for shared desks and implementing a hot desking policy. Setting up a fair rotation system or using a tech-based booking system can help with then management of shared facilities.
In summary, the hybrid working model requires a strong organisational culture high on trust and communication. It is important to make sure the business evolves to support this if it is decided to implement this model. It will look different for every organisation and can change over time.
However, it is important to remember that employers should tailor arrangements around staff, some would be unable to work from home and others would be more productive in doing so, it is important neither are forced into inappropriate circumstances.
Sustainable Business Network
The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) runs a quarterly network in Winchester which is supported by Winchester City Council.
The free events bring together engaged and like-minded businesses in an informal setting to consider a different sustainability issue each time. Past meeting themes have included environmental management systems (EMS), transport, energy, marketing yourself as a sustainable business, sustainable procurement, staff engagement and many more. Morning and afternoon events combine high-quality presentations from experts within the field, a practical workshop element and of course all of the valuable networking opportunities you would expect from such a group. Feedback shows that delegates leave with ideas for action they can put in place at work. Network members also receive a regular e-magazine with news from the sector, information from the SBN and events listings. They also have access to a SBN helpline, a comprehensive website and discounted environmental training.
To view upcoming dates and topics visit here.
Membership of the network is free.
Local Food and Drink Heroes map across the Winchester district launched
Winchester City Council and Hampshire Fare have created a local food and drink heroes map to highlight and promote the variety of producers across the Winchester district.
From wasabi and trout to lavender and gin, there is a lot of choice for businesses who want to support local producers across our district. Using local producers helps reduce food miles, carbon emissions and packaging and supports the local economy.
To explore the producers, visit: www.visitwinchester.co.uk/food-drink/local-food-and-drink-heroes/ to plan your foodie break, explore experiences and to support the district’s local heroes.
Solar PV and Green Technologies
For information on funding opportunities for Solar PV and Green Technologies download the web links to the right-hand side of this web page.