As hundreds of UK employees return to enduring their commute to work, an important question is raised – is this necessary?
Already in the press, there are talks about hybrid working and the cost saving benefits to employers of having them work from home or local workspaces, but few are discussing the environmental savings of this new way of work. Yet.
With the UK heading towards net zero in 2050, many eminent UK businesses are looking deeper into ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Employee commuting is one of the aspects now being recorded. Schemes have been introduced, with interest free train tickets, discounted bus tickets, bikes for work, electric only company cars – but none of them include reducing the actual distance of office.
Organisations around the UK desperately need to find a way to effectively cut down these commuting and work-related journeys without making any major sacrifices to staff morale, mental health, productivity and output. From research conducted in 2019, it was found that the average employee spends 62 minutes a day commuting, with 3.7 million people in the UK travelling for longer than 2 hours a day.
Due to the pandemic, flexible coworking has already been introduced to many companies, wanting to ensure safety during the COVID risk. However, this could also be part of the solution for businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint in line with the government and their own targets.
Working in an office space, surrounded by co-workers, has proved to be an important element in mental health. So without a doubt, requesting the country to work from home wouldn’t work for the masses. This is where a middle ground is met.
By providing employees with the opportunity to work in local workspaces or at local ‘spare desks’ rented out by companies with space, it provides more flexible working arrangements that have many benefits.
An IWG survey found only 8% of British workers are now prepared to travel more than an hour to work, with 77% of workers claiming a more convenient office is a must for their next job. More local offices mean 7,416 hours will be reduced in commuting time, equating to 118 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per centre each year.
The environment and employees’ time aren’t the only positives of this way of working. Inner city congestion has become a major issue in modern day living, with traffic congestions left, right, and centre. By creating more local work places, this is significantly reduced, with less cars on the road for shorter periods.
Not only this, local economies everywhere will receive a boost from this work strategy. According to a 2019 economy survey conducted by Regus, the opening of flexible workspaces leads to the creation of 121 jobs. It also adds $9.62 million to our local economies.
With more and more employment contracts containing flexible work arrangements and offices, you can do more than you may have first thought to reduce your own carbon footprint.
If you are an employer considering flexible offices, why not pass the hybrid working cost savings into something even more positive than a higher income? These savings could be used to motivate employees to reduce their commute, and therefore their carbon footprint.
If this sounds like an appealing concept, check out Pure Planet as an example.
Pure Planet have a zero commute policy. They calculated the total carbon emissions for the commute of the workforce, which equated to 480 metric tonnes of CO2 per year. To counterbalance this, Pure Planet uses carbon credits purchased in the Amazon rainforest. The organisation expects to undertake this offset process at least annually.*
With climate change on the agenda for many UK companies, now is the time to look at the daily commute as part of the issue and establish a thoughtful policy that benefits both the planet and the health and wellbeing of your staff.
What will you put in place now?