The office that I care for is now almost 100% remote. As Silverchair has settled into tele-working, perhaps a few folks are undergoing mild withdraw symptoms attributable to an aggressive nitro coffee habit. The tiny luxuries that the workplace brings - from complimentary Snowing in Space Nitro coffee, to flavored seltzer and tasty snacks, are likely missing from a work-from-home setup. By working from home, we as individuals and as a company are doing our part to flatten the curve and in turn, we might also be shrinking our monthly snack consumption.

We transitioned with striking speed. As an organization, we flipped a switch without a break in productivity. Ordinarily, our culture and principles prefer that employees work from the Charlottesville office. The availability of telecommuting as a flexible work arrangement in response to stay-at-home measures adds to our readiness to ensure business continuity . . . even in a pandemic.

Silverchair collaborates with some of the most accomplished names in scholarly and professional information. This is a community of clients that are currently publishing the most cutting-edge research, updates and knowledge of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help the many doctors, nurses, and scientists stay informed and protected.  It’s not only the details on how COVID-19 is impacting the globe, but also the nitty gritty resources to help critical care nurses and doctors care for these patients.

As the office manager for Silverchair, it’s a pleasure to support the software development and delivery teams that help make this happen.  In typical times I am not a close reader of scientific news, but over the past couple weeks I too have been devouring information from our clients’ websites,  empowered with knowledge and passing along the most important information to my family and friends on the front lines in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Staying informed helps to ease the anxiety of the unknown.

As I messaged our housekeeping service to pause our recycling removal and spoke to our break-room supply chain to cancel deliveries, part of me thought (with a smirk) “zero-waste facility—that was easy;” a long-term stretch goal temporarily if speciously achieved. In our micro-community here in the office, I am conscious that the purchasing decisions I make as office manager should support personal health and performance, strengthen our Charlottesville community, and minimize environmental impact.

When I think of sustainability at Silverchair, I operate from this guiding principle:

Regard and respect diversity, the environment, and sustainable development. In other words, take care of both our people and the planet.

We support our people by offering healthy, locally sourced food options at events and as part of our snack program. We also are mindful to patronize businesses that value diversity and inclusive sourcing. We support our planet by striving for more efficient operations, cutting disposables, packaging and waste. The zero-waste philosophy is a goal that is ethical, economical, and efficient.  In short, at Silverchair we aim to send less to a landfill and reduce our environmental footprint, but we are still far from zero-waste.

On a more global scale, the recent pandemic has resulted in the reduction in carbon emissions as an unexpected consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown. This reduction is proof we can change when we absolutely must (arguably forced), but that change comes with a grotesquely unsustainable toll of job loss and economic disruption. We should all wonder—what then is the sustainable, long-term solution?

Change is foisted on us in this moment, but there are better habits we should voluntarily adopt. I see this pandemic as a call to action. Although we have made first steps as an office to be sustainably minded, we can do better. (We’ve recently partnered with Terracycle to institute a snack bag recycling program.) Hopefully, going forward, we will carry with us a new sensibility that we’ve learned over the past months. That we are all capable of resetting our daily habits.

We make choices each day—what we buy, what we wear, and what we eat. We can choose to be empowered by this crisis and move forward asking, “What am I doing to help make this a better world?”  In the words of Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program, “As we seek to build back better, doing so in a way that guarantees healthy people and a healthy planet will be the challenge that lies ahead.”

Happy 50th anniversary of Earth Day, friends.

—Jill Mumie, Silverchair Office Manager

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