How Lenovo combined eco-conservation & connectivity in a unique global initiative

Lenovo’s global ‘Work For Humankind’ (WFH) initiative created a new adventure in which volunteers could “work from anywhere”. The programme brought volunteers together to learn firsthand how to create a long-lasting change in an island community while working from one of the world’s most remote, tech-enabled workplaces.

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This brilliant project was inspired by fresh data from a worldwide research survey (commissioned by Lenovo), which revealed that 77 per cent of the respondents are enthused about new, emerging technologies that would make it simpler to successfully “work from anywhere”.

Volunteers brought their hybrid work to the island, powered by Lenovo technology, and joined together via multiple life-changing restoration projects on Robinson Crusoe Island to help avoid the extinction of endangered species and assist the local community on its road to sustainability.

In conversation with Adgully for their column Talking Insights, Emily Ketchen, Chief Marketing Officer and VP, Intelligent Devices Group, Lenovo, speaks about this one-of-a-kind campaign and how the employees got connected with the community of Robinson Crusoe Island.

What was the idea behind work for humankind? What was the mission behind it?

The core of the idea and the work is really around using technology for good and using technology to work from anywhere. Work For Humankind is a very bold initiative in partnership with both the NGO Island Conservation and the Robinson Crusoe Island community. Volunteers from around the world took place in kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly work from anywhere. They got to experience firsthand how to make a very positive and long-lasting difference with a remote island community.

While connecting with them, they were also working from one of the most remote tech-enabled offices anywhere in the world. So, our mission is to support that local community and the biodiverse ecosystems of Robinson Crusoe Island – while enabling people to do their own jobs through our technology.

What kind of opportunity did Lenovo identify in this partnership with Robinson Crusoe Island?

Lenovo partnered and engaged with Robinson Crusoe Island because it is one of the most remote islands in the entire world. It is 400 miles off the coast of Chile. It has a significant number of species that are not found anywhere else in the world. The archipelago itself is beautiful and very rich in wildlife. But it is also threatened by the challenges of our changing world, including the impact of what we would consider being habitat degradation, and invasive species. It is also a community where members struggle with access to both education and health care. So, the island community, the non-profit Island conservation, and the Chilean government have initiated community-driven restoration projects over the last decade to address the problems I have outlined.

Lenovo found that they were hindered by both telecommunications and technology challenges. This is where Lenovo identified this wonderful opportunity to make a real difference by supporting the local communities, and efforts to become sustainable, economically resilient, and self-sufficient. It was a wonderful connection between the needs of the community and what we could provide as a technology provider. The other important point is that the whole project is being done in conjunction with the residents of Robinson Crusoe Island, and it has the support of their island municipality, which is another important piece of the dialogue.

How did Lenovo’s tech actually come into play on the island and enable future remote work endeavours?

First and foremost, we are committed to leaving a very positive legacy on the island. As part of the legacy, the Lenovo technology workspace on site is being repurposed into a community hub for the Robinson Crusoe Island community to take advantage of, and to enjoy for many years to come. The tech workspace includes state-of-the-art devices, software and services solutions that will support island conservation education programs.

There are all kinds of products – from our PCs, including desktops and notebooks, and smartphones from Motorola, which is part of our company, monitors and a myriad of accessories to go with them. We also had AR/VR, Smart collaboration tools, which enabled people to connect to their workplaces when they needed to stay connected. We have an education software, called LanSchool.

Then there are services for ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) initiatives with our Lenovo CO2 Offset Service. It’s very important that anything that we brought onto the island, we also were able to offset from a CO2 perspective. And we do that through our services to offset carbon emissions from those particular products.

The island will certainly benefit from a greatly improved internet connectivity which has been made possible through the arrival of the Work for Humankind initiatives. And it's really about the significantly increased internet bandwidth up to 200 mbps available in the community technology hub.

What were the volunteering activities that were undertaken by the chosen volunteers by Lenovo to support the local Island community?

Our NGO partner in Island Conservation and the Robinson Crusoe Island community selected volunteers around the world with a range of skills and backgrounds to work their own jobs from the island and volunteer to help prevent the extinction of endangered species, support the local community, and work toward achieving sustainability. These include several restoration projects, including developing much-needed connectivity solutions for the Island’s infrastructure. This is how we were able to leave that legacy of the tech hub volunteers.

Volunteers were also invited to work their own day job as usual on the island, with Lenovo tech and connectivity enabling them to fully embrace working remotely. They would be doing their volunteer work, they would be doing their own jobs, and they would be able to then give back to the community which we found was very important to this particular cohort.

The volunteer from India was Shivya, aside from her contributions, volunteers also participated in many other kinds of projects. For example, they were engaged in building greenhouses for the community and removing invasive vegetation.

They were also consulting and working with local organisations on a range of issues such as marine conservation, wildfire protection, waste disposal, art and culture programs, energy and supply chain issues, pollution, critical infrastructure, and more. One good example is that we brought some new technology to a local art gallery by digitizing and preserving the art. Volunteers taught music to the students and enabled them to understand music from different cultures. They also transcribed and digitally preserved poetry that was written by the island locals. Curating social media to help develop content for the island's marketing department was another aspect. To make the island a destination, they helped in the creation of social media posts. So, you can see a very broad range of different kinds of volunteer work that volunteers were able to participate in.

What are the marketing trends that you will be expecting on a global platform in the coming years?

Lenovo will really pay attention to insights. These insights will be generated from our customers. We spend a lot of time listening to our customers’ feedback. In fact, one of the most important reasons we did this campaign was because of the insights that we received from our research that told us that people – especially Gen Z and younger Millennials – want to be able to work from anywhere, be productive and give back.

The trends that we will see are around companies that listen to what customers want and anticipate those needs. We know for a fact that people want to work much more flexibly. And at the center of that flexible work is the solution that we provide in the technology.

Here is a great example, you and I have never met, but here we are having a wonderful conversation, and you are in my home. And it’s evening for me and morning for you. And we are getting to know each other on the basis of technology at the center of that and this trend is not going to change. I think what differentiates Lenovo is the desire to use technology for good. And the fact that for us, our vision is about smarter technology for all – so, I think those are the trends that you will see coming up.


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