2021 - The Year For a Digital Detox

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2021 - The Year For a Digital Detox

Covid-19 has given rise to a mass adoption of technology. Many organisations have switched the office and physical meetings for Zoom calls, digitised their offline practices and undergone rapid digital transformation.

As digital designers, developers and all those who work in technology, we’ve been able to continue much as we did before the lockdowns and office closures. The surge in demand for digital transformation is great news for the technology world and we’re busier than ever. But each digital interaction comes at a cost. For every piece of content, code and digital design that’s created, there’s an impact on our collective digital carbon footprint. We have a shared responsibility as designers, developers and other members of the tech team to understand more about digital carbon footprints, and find ways of becoming more energy efficient in our digital efforts.

With this in mind, we believe that this January is the perfect time for setting some digital detoxing goals. Our new ‘Detoxing’ blog series will take you on a journey through the world of sustainable development and ethical digital best practice.

In true detoxing style, we’ll give you tips on how to shape up your digital strategy, slim down your digital carbon footprint and just say NO to outdated design approaches that may harm your team’s productivity and success.

We want to help you become healthier, happier and more energy efficient in your digital practices. We can’t promise you’ll single-handedly save the world by the end of our Detoxing series. But we’re confident your digital design and development methods will be leaner, ethical and a whole lot more effective.

Let’s get started!

2021: The year for a Digital Detox

“A mass grounding of flights during the peak of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic saw CO2 emissions from aviation reduce by up to 60%, according to the Global Carbon Project.” (source: BBC News).

This headline makes for great reading, but it only tells half the story. Whilst most people and organisations are becoming more aware of their physical carbon footprint, fewer people understand the impact of their digital alternative.

Design, development and digital carbon footprints

In the same way, an aeroplane creates carbon as a by-product of flying, every time you log onto your laptop, send an email, design a prototype or create a piece of code, your action creates carbon.

You are the digital equivalent of an aeroplane - how powerful is that!? As the old adage goes though: with great power comes great responsibility…

The problem is that most people aren’t aware of how their traditional design and development practices affect the planet, so they code, connect and digitise as they’ve always done. As we learn more about digital carbon footprints, we’re realising that there’s a lot we can do to combat the environmental impact of our online activities. This has given rise to a new consciousness around digital sustainability.

Kicking off your digital detox: digital sustainability

Digital sustainability is an ethical approach to design and development that aims to reduce our individual and collective digital footprint.

It is a holistic view of how we, as digital workers; developers, designers, product managers (and the rest) can actively try to minimise the amount of carbon we create when we’re coding, designing and consuming online content.

At Digital Detox, we’ve spent years learning about the practice of sustainable development and how we can ‘detox’ our approaches to be more environmentally friendly. Now, we’re working with our clients to share these learnings, and help them set and achieve their own goals to become more ethical and sustainable, digitally.

Here’s a little snippet of our digital detox ‘training programme’:

1. Start now and keep learning

As is the case with Dry January, or training for a marathon, the most important step in your digital detox is to start.

Learn all you can about sustainable development, ethical digital practices and digital carbon footprints. Once you understand the principles, you can begin to make changes straight away.

You’ll be amazed at how many ‘quick wins’ exist once you know where to look for them.

2. Get everyone on board

A successful digital detox will only happen if everyone is on the same journey.

If you’re serious about detoxing, you’ll need to do a lot of work to advocate the value of sustainable development.

Every developer, designer, senior manager and junior member of the team needs to understand why this matters - and they all need to play their part in taking action.

3. Analyse your existing development practices

Think about the products or services you offer to clients or end-users - how do they impact the environment?

How do you measure success? Do you reward users for spending longer on your website, for example? Is your codebase set up to maximise the opportunities of the Cloud? Do you reuse technology where you can? How quickly does your website load?

In order to improve your sustainability, you’ll need a benchmark of where you are today, so you can make changes for the future.

4. Get the bin out

Once you understand which areas of your business aren’t sustainable, you can begin to bin them.

Not literally (if only it were that simple!) but as part of an ongoing process where every member of the team will need to be accountable for their role in detoxing your digital practices. This is often the hardest part of your team’s digital detox, because it requires a willingness to change and do things differently.

You may need to re-set KPIs at a senior level, developers might need to change how they work and your entire platform could need a re-think.

5. It’ll be worthwhile

Once you’re aware of how your traditional digital development practices are hurting the planet, you’ll want to change.

It will be hard work - much like a physical detox - but it will be worth it.

Ready, Set, Go!

We believe that this is the best year for a digital detox.

Amid the negative news reports about Covid-19, infection rates, R numbers and ever-changing restrictions, here’s something you can be sure of; if you make the necessary changes to minimise your digital carbon footprint, you WILL make a difference to the planet.**

**and you’ll delight end-users with your lean, efficient and high performing digital experiences (which is, frankly, the sweet cherry goji berry on top).

Work with us

Our knowledge and experience in sustainable development continue to grow and we’re working with major enterprise organisations and smaller SMEs to help make changes that have a BIG impact.

Let’s have a chat about how we can help you start your digital detox. Ready, Set, Go!

Next time…

In the next blog of our Detoxing series, we’ll talk about Digital Sustainability. How can you adapt your wider digital processes and practices to become more sustainable? Follow us on Linkedin to catch the next blog, hot off the press!

Read more in this series