New research suggests hybrid working models make for happier employees but require careful management. (photo: Advanced Workplace Associates)
New research suggests hybrid working models make for happier employees but require careful management.
26.02.2021, 07:27

Flexible Working, Happy Employees and CO2 Emissions

A new analysis of flexible working preferences in the UK post-lockdown points to a potential reduction of CO2 emissions by around a quarter, but also raises concerns over the quality of office environments.


With the Government revealing its roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, workers are set to return to offices later this year. However, new working practices mean they will still split their time between the office and home. 


The analysis by global consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) found, however, that people want to work from home on the same days – Mondays and Fridays – so that the remaining two or three days in the office are bunched together, with workplace utilisation potentially resembling a Swiss cheese. 


This agglomeration threatens to undermine many of the benefits of a part-time working-from-home revolution prompted by the changes that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought.  


AWA has calculated that with smart working practices post-Covid 19, office workers could cut their annual CO2 emissions by an average of 26%, so saving the UK a massive 10.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year, the equivalent of 7 million return flights from London to New York.  


Its founder, Andrew Mawson, says: "Analysis and studies from around the world show that people will want to change the way they work when this pandemic is over, coming into the office on average just two or three days a week. However, we predict that with their new-found flexibility almost everyone wants to go into the office on the same days, avoiding Mondays and Fridays so they can ‘shoulder’ the weekend.  


"Unless leaders act to manage when people come into the office and introduce flexible models of office working when they are in, then offices will end up nearly empty, with no buzz, for large stretches of the week."  


The company has drawn up a new model for office utilisation that would allow companies to have busy, productive workspaces throughout the week.  


Based on detailed studies it has conducted, the average annual CO2 emissions of a British office worker can be cut from 5.69 tonnes to 4.23 tonnes taking in savings in office usage, commuting, business travel and consumables, such as printing or paper, offset by extra costs associated with providing heating and lighting at home. If all 7.22 million knowledge-based office workers in the UK worked smartly, the total annual saving could be 10.5 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 3.0 per cent of the UK’s total emissions.  


William Buller, AWA’s Low Carbon Working consultant, explains further: 

"Smart working means that offices can save on the amount of space they use, as well as heating, lighting and other consumables, and also reap a massive dividend in cutting their environmental footprint by nearly two fifths. 


"With organisations under pressure from the Government as part of the UK’s target to move to net zero by 2050, this is a potential win-win for everyone."  


Download AWS' "I Don't Like Mondays (or Fridays)" report from the downloads section of this page.


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