Homeworking could save 3bn tonnes of carbon a year
Increasing the numbers of UK employees working from home could save over 3 million tonnes of carbon a year as well as cut costs by £3 billion a year for UK employers and employees, according to a new report by the Carbon Trust.
While over 40 per cent of UK jobs are compatible with working from home, the Carbon Trust found that only 35 per cent of companies have a policy allowing their employees to work from home. And where homeworking is offered by companies, between one-third and one-half choose not to accept it.
Homeworking reduces employee commuting, resulting in carbon, money and time savings. If office space is properly rationalised to reflect this, homeworking can also significantly reduce office energy consumption and rental costs.
However, the research revealed a critical finding: carbon savings are sometimes not achieved because of potential rebound effects, particularly the increased carbon emissions from employees now working in homes that are often energy inefficient. Business must therefore take care to factor in their individual circumstances when considering homeworking policies, to ensure that these will actually cut carbon emissions and not increase them.
Hugh Jones, Managing Director of Advisory at the Carbon Trust, said: “Homeworking is on the rise, with numbers increasing by over half a million since 2007. This new research shows that in the right circumstances, it has the potential to be expanded significantly and be a win-win for business and the environment.
“Significant financial and carbon savings can be achieved from the roll out of homeworking. But companies must be careful to ensure that they get the balance right, for if employers do not take account of their individual circumstances, a rebound effect, from employees heating inefficient homes, may actually lead to an increase in carbon emissions.”
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