How working from home can contribute to sustainable development.
As well as the more celebrated advantages that it confers, such as the freedom, flexibility and convenience, working from home also has environmental benefits and can help businesses achieve their environmental goals.
The biggest advantage to the environment of home working is the massive reduction in workers’ carbon footprints, particularly for those that drive to work. A recent study by the Office for National Statistics found that around three-quarters of UK workers get to work by car. The study also revealed that, outside of London, only 9% of the workforce travel to work using public transport.
Figures like this clearly illustrate the huge contribution that working from home could make to reducing the number of car journeys made in the UK.
Businesses that encourage their employees to work from home can dramatically reduce their own environmental impact but there are other, more far-reaching advantages as well. For example, less cars on the road means that journey times are improved, less fuel is used and less pollution created. It also means less wear and tear on the roads which saves public money which could then be invested into public transport or into the development of renewable technologies.
But it’s not just the travelling to work that impacts on the environment. There are many other more subtle advantages to home working. A good example is building size. Less people in the office means less space is needed which, ultimately, frees up more space for green spaces or housing. Smaller buildings also consume less energy for heating and lighting which saves individual businesses money and also helps to conserve resources.
There are also advantages linked to the behaviour of home workers. For example, people who work from home tend to prepare there own lunch whereas those who travel to the office are more likely to buy their lunch ready-made complete with packaging. There may also be a car journey involved in finding lunch.
We have seen how working from home can have environmental and economic benefits but does it have any benefits that fall into the third part of sustainable development, social benefits? There isn’t a lot of research into this area but possible social benefits could include decreased levels of stress because employees are able to spend less time travelling and more time with their families.
It certainly seems that working from home can contribute to all three areas of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social.