In the past three years, remote work and hybrid models have dramatically changed the world of work. More home offices, fewer kilometers on roads and tracks, fewer traffic jams and overcrowded trains. The “new way of working” also has an obvious impact on climate and environmental protection. The latest study conducted by the IWG in collaboration with Arup shows that working close to home significantly reduces carbon emissions. It is recognized that hybrid work can have a markedly positive impact on the climate crisis.
Major cities in Great Britain and the USA were examined. In Manchester, UK, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by up to 70 percent, and in Los Angeles, California, by up to 87 percent.
Ex daily trips to offices in the city center carry the largest CO2 footprint of all forms of work – also in Germany. On the one hand, dividing the time between the local workplace, working from home and occasional trips to the headquarters in the city center has a positive effect – this provides the greatest savings in emissions, also from Aachen to Zwickau. This combination is becoming more attractive to employees anyway. It is also obviously for our climate.
Hybrid forms of work are also on the rise in Germany, which has positive effects on environmental and climate protection. Traffic has decreased significantly, along with the number of long traffic jams. The results of the study can therefore be carried over to Germany – and you can look forward to better emissions values nationwide. Exchanging a car for a bike and upgrading office space to higher environmental standards also significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
The study measured the environmental impact of hybrid work based on construction and transportation emissions in six cities across the US and UK, with a particular focus on two of the largest carbon emitters – London and Los Angeles. Other cities examined were New York City, Atlanta, Manchester and Glasgow.
All six cities demonstrated the potential for massive carbon savings by adopting hybrid work, which quickly spread among employees. They are now using available technologies to work in the most convenient and productive places.
Cities in the United States have shown the greatest savings potential. This is due to the prevalence of car commuting, with Atlanta (90% savings) directly ahead of Los Angeles (87%) and New York (82%).
Potential carbon savings remain significant in UK cities such as Glasgow (80%), Manchester (70%) and London (49%), all showing potential to benefit from reduced worker commuting and within a hybrid model of working closer to home.
The IWG and Arup study compared different work scenarios for white-collar workers, including work from city center jobs only, jobs in city center and domestic jobs, jobs in city center and home jobs, and a combination of the three scenarios. Total emissions per factor were analyzed based on, among others, transportation, heating and cooling, lighting and energy consumption in order to understand the impact on climate.
The traditional five-day commuting trip downtown has the largest carbon footprint of all. In 2020, 25 per cent of emissions in the UK came from the transport sector – more than any other sector. In London in particular, one in three people drive to work. Nationally, that number rises to about two in three. Per capita emissions from transport are 2.5 times higher in the US than in the UK. This is due to the use of larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles and lower use of public transportation in almost all cities.
The study found that London’s carbon emissions were reduced by 49 per cent when working hours were shared between a central office and a local workplace. 43 percent less time splitting time between domestic work and home compared to a traditional 5-day commute pattern. Distance has been a major driver of emissions reduction: as workers move closer to where they live, their emissions will decrease.
Local buildings provide carbon savings
Compared to downtown offices, local workplaces have been found to produce lower emissions per square meter of floor area. Crucially, local workplaces have higher occupancy rates, so everyone is responsible for fewer emissions than a central office location.
Employees benefit from hybrid working
Hybrid work has proven particularly attractive to employees. 88 percent of employees say flexible working in a new position is important to saving costs and achieving a better work-life balance. By allowing people to live and work close to home, hybrid work helps people be healthier and more productive.
In a similar survey of hiring managers in the US, the IWG found that the vast majority (94%) use hybrid forms of work to recruit new talent, and 93% said it was an important tool for them. Not only does hybrid work provide health benefits, but the IWG analysis shows how much savings on-site work can provide for hybrid workers. Workers who have improved their work habits in this way live and work closer to home, which makes them healthier and more productive.
The IWG analysis shows how much savings on-site work can provide for hybrid workers. Someone working in Cambridge – who has seen a massive increase in local work over the past year – could save up to £2,931 per annum by working just one day a week from the Cambridge site rather than the main London headquarters. That could rise to £8,793 if he works locally three days a week.
Mark Dixon, CEO of the IWG, said: “This new study shows that we have an extraordinary opportunity to radically reduce humanity’s negative impact on the environment by encouraging the adoption of hybrid working. A five-day commute to downtown offices has the largest carbon footprint of any Business model Simply spending less time in or traveling to a city center will reduce emissions from both buildings and vehicles Giving people the ability to work close to where they live and split their time between home and a nearby job could reduce work-related carbon emissions by 70 percent.
Dixon continued: “The biggest change we can all make is enabling people to work where they need to, with less impact on the environment. so now.”
With IWG reaching its largest network to date at more than 65 million square feet, the company plans to expand its network by as many as 1,000 locations over the next year. By expanding locations closer to where employees live, the IWG will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated by long commutes – traffic emissions are the largest source of pollution in both the US and the UK. The company is on track to become carbon neutral through 2023 and has received an upgrade to AA from MSCI.
Matthew Dillon, Director of Economics and Urban Planning at Arup, said: “This study clearly shows that changing our behavior is key to achieving our carbon targets. We can choose to walk, cycle and travel more by public transport. Governments must also choose to invest in and use these networks to secure environmental benefits and growth The economist.
More press materials can be found in the appendix.
“Award-winning music trailblazer. Gamer. Lifelong alcohol enthusiast. Thinker. Passionate analyst.”