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It's all about heading EAST

Changing our behaviour is not easy – we are creatures of habit and like to do things the way we always have. The Triandis theory explains that it isn’t just habit that affects our behaviour in the office but that social factors and emotions also have an important influence.

The Save@Work team in Belgium invited a keynote speaker who taught them that you can influence behaviour with four simple principles: make it Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST). Five months later, we are curious to see how the Belgium energy teams have put this theory into practice...

 

Easy

We know that small, seemingly irrelevant, details can make a task more challenging and can make all the difference between doing something now or putting it off. If you want dog owners to clean up their dog’s mess, don’t just put up a sign telling them to do it, add bags to the sign to make it that much easier.

So we should look for ways to make it easier for someone to do something, like living healthier, arriving on time, or… saving energy. The energyteam in Liedekerke has made a manual to help colleagues adjust the power management settings of their computers to a more energy efficient use, the manual helps the colleagues and once the settings are adjusted, the pc will be more energy efficient each time you use it.

 

Attractive

Making the action more attractive is about two main things: drawing attention to it and making the action itself more appealing. Humans are more likely to undertake a particular action if they have an incentive to do so. They should be attracted to the action, get something out of it and, last but not least, maintain or increase a positive self-image. Therefore, the potential gain from feeling or looking good can be a powerful incentive for participation in actions.

For example, in the building of Leuven, winners of small challenges are displayed in an online blog and get a small present. This way, winners of the Green Clicks challenge and the most sustainable ways of transportation to work received positive attention.

 

Social

Humans are social animals. We are heavily influenced by what those around us do and say. We reduce our energy consumption when we know that others in similar households use less energy than we do. We are more likely to take the stairs rather than the lift when our colleagues do the same.

The energyteam in Asse greatly appreciates the close involvement of both employees and aldermen. Combined efforts from bottom-up and top-down give the most and best results by involving all colleagues and truly improving energy efficiency. In Diest, the energyteam made a videoclip about their campaign, shown below. With a positive ‘we will do this together’ attitude, they have inspired and included their colleagues in the campaign.

 

 

Timely

When you want someone to change their behaviour, make sure to reach them at the right time and at the right place.

The energyteam in Leuven organised an elevator-free week in which they decorated the elevators, as shown in the photos. This well timed action made people think (and look) twice when they intended to take the elevator. Another ‘timely’ suggestion is to place a poster next to the elevator saying something like ‘Save energy and calories: take the stairs!’. Don’t make the mistake putting up next to the stairs, since those people have already decided to take the stairs and don’t need any more persuading.

 

August EU blog

 

As these examples show, the EAST principle can help you to create a good campaign which reaches people in the right way at the right time and at in the right place! Want to learn more about EAST? Check this (English) report.

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