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Office Workers Ditch The Commute To Do Their Bit For The Planet

New research from IWG reveals concerns about climate change are just as important as rising fuel and train prices among workers who are cutting down their journeys to create a more sustainable, hybrid working life.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
SPONSORED 3:15PM 09/02/22

New research from IWG reveals concerns about climate change are just as important as rising fuel and train prices among workers who are cutting down their journeys to create a more sustainable, hybrid working life.

  • Over three quarters (76%) say commuting less is  important to fight the climate crisis 
  • On average employees are commuting 2.5 days a week less compared to pre-pandemic levels
  • Two thirds (66%) agree that it’s important to cut down commuting to make their work-life balance more sustainable
  • Almost three-quarters of business leaders (73%) are concerned about the impact of commuting on the environment 
  • 78% of businesses  are committed  to reducing their carbon footprint

WG, the world’s largest flexible workspace company with brands including Spaces and Regus, publishes new research of both FTSE 250 businesses and employees ahead of World Earth Day that demonstrates workers are cutting their commute and adopting a more sustainable working lifestyle.

Hybrid working, which allows workers to spend less time on long commutes to city centre offices as they split their time between home, a local office or flexspace and the head office can cut emissions substantially.

Last week, the latest UN Climate Change report warned that resistance to change was one of the greatest barriers to tackling the climate crisis and the organisation has already highlighted that hybrid working addresses six of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, global CO2 emissions fell by as much as a quarter when people stayed at home. Today’s data confirms three-quarters of office workers believe commuting less would majorly contribute to cutting the climate crisis, while two-thirds say it makes work life more sustainable.

There is also evidence the sudden change to working patterns is now leading to a permanent shift in the cadence of commuting. Almost half of workers (45%) are commuting at least three days a week less and 55% are commuting at least two days a week less. Almost half (45%) would refuse to go back to commuting five days a week.

As the cost-of-living crisis worsens, the cost of commuting is also highlighted as a significant incentive. Almost half of office workers (44%) say financial savings are a reason they commute less, and  48%say it means they can do their bit for the environment. Research from revealed employees can save on average £4,000 a year on train travel, while those driving to work are spending record prices on fuel. Average UK petrol and diesel pump prices increased by 11p and 22p per litre respectively in March 2022. This is the largest monthly price rise recorded since 2000.

Almost all (84% agreed that the best way to cut commuting is hybrid working. But there is a fear that this desire to cut carbon omissions may not be shared by all employers with almost half (49%) concerned their employers will expect them to commute more.

However, there is evidence employers also want a hybrid approach.

Culling the commute is also supported and encouraged, with well over two-thirds (69%) of business leaders saying helping staff cut down on their daily journeys is an important way to help meet company sustainability targets.

Over three quarters (78%) say their company is committed to reducing its impact on the planet. The polling of business leaders also reveals a large majority (69%) believe empowering employees not to commute long distances every day will help their company meet sustainability targets and over three quarters (77%) say hybrid working has had a positive impact of carbon footprint.

Two in five – 38%– believe their companies have made greater savings on utilities and building costs because of a reduction in commuting. They also note that one in four workers – 25%– are asking for an office or hub closer to their home. 

IWG CEO Mark Dixon said, “Even at a time of almost unprecedented increases in the cost of living and conducting business, this research shows both business leaders and employees are equally united in their concern for the environment. 

“Companies want to retain their best talent and reduce their impact on the environment. The adoption of hybrid working does both. 

Not only does cutting long daily commutes into city centre locations have clear environmental benefits, but hybrid working also helps companies save more than £8,000 per employee. Ultimately, by adopting hybrid working, businesses save money, gain flexibility, and reduce their carbon footprint, while employees spend less time and money travelling without losing the social aspect of office life.”