Spent the middle of last week's trip in Brussels. Since becoming the home for the EU government Brussels has taken on an interesting feel. The best way I can describe it is that its a new kind of melting pot. Not the traditional kind that attracts the hungry, tired, etc, but a new kind that attracts political professionals from all walks of life.
Discussions on energy and the environment were incredibly easy to come by in Brussels. I met with a number of government officials, and was impressed by their depth and breadth of knowledge, interest to hear new ideas, and desire to move the ball forward. I found an interest and openness to working with industry to find solutions that can benefit both the environment and the economy.
Two of the topics that I discussed were of consistent interest. First, the heightened sensitivity to the economy brought a strong interest in the interplay between our business and our eco responsibility initiative. Were the EU regulations such as WEEE and RoHS were causing us economic distress? (nothing serious) Did we see energy efficiency as a competitive advantage or business opportunity? (yes to both) What role could the EU play to help industry drive energy efficiency harder? (endorse standards for comparison of energy efficiency among products) I also learned a lot in these exchanges, and hope that the exchange of ideas can continue.
The other area was the interest in Sun's iWork activity, where we encourage employees to work at home or where ever is convenient. I joked about the big banner on one of the EU administration buildings, saying that they'd left off "Stay Home" as one of the ways to save energy. While I'm proud of the eco story around our products, I sometimes feel like iWork may be our biggest eco innovation to date. The iWork story seems to have something for everyone: cost savings, environmental benefits, social responsibility, personal gains, and societal and macro-economic plusses. Come talk to us if you haven't yet - remote work is a story that's still at its early stages, but will be getting more and more attention going forward.