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For Business
December 20, 2013

Nokia’s Pia Tanskanen on why working green is good for business

According to new research by psychologists, being more flexible in our working behavior can help business embrace and benefit from a changing world.

This is one reason why Nokia has been at the forefront of implementing sustainable work policies for years. To find out what this green philosophy means in practice, we spoke to Pia Tanskanen, Senior Manager, Sustainability at Nokia about her role and why going green is good for business.

Sustainability is a very broad area, so how does an average day look like for a Senior Manager, sustainability at Nokia?


“Sustainability work is a lot about co-operating with others. Cooperation is part of everyday work with not only sustainability colleagues but also with other Nokia teams from R&D to manufacturing and communication. Externally we cooperate also a lot, with other companies, service providers, with NGOs and universities. Organizing and participating to meeting is big part of the work, meetings are typically quite informal and include project planning , preparation, analyzing and sharing the results.”

“Meetings often take place via Lync. I also try to keep myself updated on what’s going on around the world by participating to seminars or networking events, and of course by reading whenever there is time for that. Mostly the working days are spent by interacting with others. Some time is needed for project management, budgeting, reporting etc. I think almost every day is different, which makes it fantastic and always interesting. In sustainability – cross functional activity- you also have a change to get to know the whole company.”

Nokia@Work’s Smarter Everyday philosophy aims to inspire people to get the most out of their business, by taking leading approaches to productivity, collaboration and technology adoption. How does Nokia’s sustainability policy help the company learn more about these areas?

“First of all, sustainability is part of everything we do at Nokia. It is about collaboration and in its best, also about innovation. Sustainable solutions are often efficient also from the business perspective, e.g. less electricity is being used, more money is being saved.”

Another part of Smarter Everyday is about designing the ideal working day. Nokia encourages its employees to think green. How does that help employees perform at their fullest potential daily?

“Research shows that people want to work in companies that are environmentally and socially responsible. For example, recent numbers from UK study* show that 68% of office workers view sustainability as a priority in their workspace. Everyone can make sustainable choices in their own work, for example taking only so much food as one can eat to avoid wasting food at lunch time. Nokia also offers a possibility for everyone to spend 2 working days in volunteering activities annually. This is a concrete way how one can expand his or her expertise and time to be used for the good of the community.”

Companies are regularly accused of greenwashing their business practices for better PR. What do you say to such an accusation? And why do you think sustainability is so crucial to a business’s success?

“These kinds of accusations may take place if a company is not ready to invest for long-term commitment to gradually change its business operations into more sustainable direction. Sustainability is actually many little steps to better. Companies can find financial benefits for choosing more energy and material efficient processes, simply by using less energy and material and also by recycling waste. Employees are more satisfied with companies that are responsible.”

You recently came back from Uganda, where Nokia’s School Governance Project- ‘education for all’ – won a prize for the ‘Innovative Use of Technology’. What is the motivation behind such a project, what have been the results and how do they affect Nokia’s business?

“We believe that the use of mobile technology can have many benefits to societies. Education is the key to progress, from individual level to business. Mobile phones are already there in peoples hands, so we are looking for ways how they can be used for example for enhanced education. This project kick started from the common workshop with Plan and Nokia in Kenya 3-4 years ago. The idea was to find technological solutions to the challenges that were found locally- in this case school governance.”

“The idea is to use mobiles so that pupils can report anomalously to officials for example if teacher is not showing up, and vice versa, teachers can send text messages to parents to inform on parent meetings at school. Interesting detail is that fathers were found to participate more to school activities when technology element was brought to the system. Nokia is a company that has strong values and this project is one of the many where we have been able to demonstrate how technology can help people in their daily lives.”

Pia provides a fascinating insight into why sustainability benefits Nokia’s business, customers and society alike. But what about your business? Do you see why going green makes good business sense? Let us know in the comments below.

*The research was carried out by Opinium for design consultants Arup and interviewed 2,000 full-time UK office workers.