The global pandemic has massively challenged how we work, making us all adapt to new ways of working. Over the past year, our iiE team has been reviewing our Green level audit process, which currently requires a minimum biannual site audit for our top-level accreditation. The climate emergency has made us take into review this whole process due to carbon emissions from national travel, and now COVID-19 has forced us to think critically and act quickly on the challenges and benefits of remote auditing.
For the foreseeable future, we will be carrying out remote site audits as determined by your auditor. The decision will be largely impacted by your needs, your significant environmental impacts, and past audit findings. This may be easier for lower impact sectors such as professional services, digital and marketing companies, and some academic institutions- or those whose impacts of significance don’t usually involve large amounts of environmental hazards. We believe it important to carry on the momentum of your environmental programmes, both to keep your business resilient in terms of identifying cost saving opportunities and keeping your risks in check.
This means, many will be asked to modify how you undertake this audit which is normally carried out in person and on-site. Here are some key considerations to help you prepare for your assessment in the coming months.
- Remote auditing may affect the objectives or the scope of the audit. During your pre-audit support we will discuss any limitations and define the methodology for your assessment.
- Ensure the right people are in the ‘room’ during the audit interview – in some cases this may mean staff will be logging in from home. We will discuss this with you on your pre-audit call, but essentially, we want to ensure we have the most relevant staff available to answer questions and talk through your evidence.
- Use of technology, such as videoconferencing and good cameras will be needed. As and when we begin returning to work, you’ll be asked to give us virtual tours to view specific evidence, such as your waste management system and other key pieces of evidence like new low carbon equipment installed (EV charging points, lighting systems, heating systems, etc.).
- Consider in advance what barriers there might be for your auditor and discuss with your iiE advisor possible solutions, such as limitations to virtual access of evidence. We will talk you through the kind of evidence we need to see, whether this is live, photographic, or document-based.
As ever, we will be looking at what positive changes you have made on resource use and greenhouse gas reduction, how you have influenced behaviours, and what projects you’ve completed to make a social or environmental impact. The iiE audit is a time to help you reflect on your performance over the past year and support you with clear aims over the coming months to make further improvements following your audit.
Going forward, your next steps may differ significantly from the norm. For some, many staff won’t be going back to the office and general resource use may be substantially lower compared to previous years. Our advice will focus on impact,not box ticking – so our recommendations in the audit will be heavily steered at the new ways of working your business may be undertaking. The audit will support and advise you on how to use your time to make your EMS most effective, and your audit and follow-on support will be tailored to your changing needs.
Bronze and Silver-level audits will continue to be undertaken as per the standard remote-audit process for these levels. Silver-level audits are also subject to a request for a site-audit, depending on the environmental aspects of your business and will be requested by your auditor on a case-by-case basis.