Working 8 hours a day, always waking up at the same time and always ending at the same time is a claustrophobic lifestyle, to which one can add stress caused by commuting. There is an alternative, and it’s gradually spreading: working from home.
It could be a key to a better future, reducing both stress and CO2 emissions.
According to a study commissioned by Regus (a global workspace provider) titled “Added Value of Flexible Working“, a large-scale spread of flexible work would reduce carbon dioxide levels by 214 million tons per year by 2030, basically the same amount of CO2 that would be absorbed by 5.5 billion trees.
The benefit would not only concern the environment: it would also save 3.53 billion hours spent every year travelling to the workplace, and there would also be substantial economic advantages: the added value of flexibility to world economy would be over 10,000 billion dollars if it were applied in the sixteen countries analyzed: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, the United States and Switzerland.
When we think about the benefits of flexible work, we often focus on local benefits. In particular, we think it allows you to have a better relationship between life and work, more time with the family, fewer hours spent driving or moving.
But flexible work isn’t just about working at home. It is in fact the possibility of working wherever you are, whether it is a cafe or a mountain refuge. Technology now allows us to be always connected, to send messages, make video conferences or send data. As a way of working, it once frightened employers because they did not know how to control employee hours, but those who went with the switch noticed significant savings in terms of time and resources.
Employees who work anywhere and at any time can respond immediately to every need. The risk of having to be ready to respond 24 hours a day is there. But of course this depends on rules that need to be previously set.
When respected, work agility makes the workforce much happier, inevitably increasing productivity. It should also be considered that every single commuter who changes his way of traveling, saves 6-9 tons of carbon dioxide every year.
According to Cbre, the largest property consultancy company in the world, 78 percent of employess value the quality of their work environment and 69 percent would happily trade other benefits for a better location. They need privacy and prefer to avoid commuting, which should not exceed 30 minutes. Not surprisingly, when it comes to food, they definitely prefer eating at home.
A study carried out by the English HSBC, one of the largest financial services companies in the world, shows that 87% of men and 90% of women consider work at home one of the main drivers behind the increase in their productivity levels .
Regus also calculates that in England alone 7.8 million tons of CO2 would be saved by 2030 and 115 million hours per year due to home-work travel avoided. In the United States, the numbers are even higher: 110 million tons of CO2 and 960 million hours. This is because cars are the most used form of transportation.
But who is already making the transition? By far the most flexible country is Sweden, with 51 percent of its employees working from home. The Czech Republic (48 percent), Slovakia and Norway (40 percent), Germany (34 percent), Austria (32 percent), England (24 percent) and Italy follow.
In short, a home is no longer just a nest. It becomes an intersection point for many systems that can lead to a change, causing an even better effect on the environment in the long run than the savings from home-work trips. Different functions come together, such as food, heating, air conditioning, electrical appliances. Food consumed outside, for example, always requires a greater amount of energy and is also packed in plastic containers.
If we consider that offices will always have higher management costs and that the prices of the real estate market, especially in the city center, are skyrocketing, it is easy to imagine that the future will be very different from the past. And the image of the sad employee commuting to work may finally disappear.