Flexible working & energy efficiency

Flexible working - women sitting on floor whilst working on laptop

With the current coronavirus pandemic, businesses are adopting new ways of working. Whilst there are several ways an organisation can increase their energy efficiency, one major option is implementing flexible working. The idea of flexible hours is not a new one. Before the pandemic, in Europe flexible working was becoming the preferred way of working [1]. Not only is it beneficial to your employees, but it is also great for your business’ energy efficiency efforts. In this blog post, we’ll look at what flexible working is and the impact it can have on your company’s energy efficiency.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working [2] is a blanket term used to refer to any form of working that differs from the usual 9 to 5 routine the workforce is used to. Flex-time working includes:

  • Switching to part-time work or changing your employees’ part-time hours
  • Allowing your employees to have flexible times around appointments or events previously agreed upon
  • Shorter work weeks
  • Shift working
  • Self-rostering gives your employees the choice of suggesting their preferred working hours. A shift pattern is then created, matching your employees’ preferences
  • Organising working time based on the number of hours an employee is expected to work over a year instead of a week
  • Job sharing

Benefits of flexible working

Flexible working [3] makes it possible for your employees to juggle work and family life better. This is especially important right now as schools and nurseries are closed.

Attaining a work-life balance while maintaining productivity is essential for our mental health. A survey cited in People Management [4] found that more than a third of flexible workers saw an improvement in their mental health. Dr Washika Haak-Saheem, associate professor of international HR management at Henley Business School added: “Flexible working increases productivity and employee wellbeing.”

This form of working is also kinder to your employees’ personal finances. With the cost of living and transport fares on the rise, flexible schedules makes it possible for your employees to cut back on costs incurred during their day-to-day commutes.

Impact on energy efficiency

By allowing more of your employees to telecommute or work from home more often, your company can increase its energy efficiency [5]. Improving your organisation’s energy efficiency is great for the environment and helps you cut back on costs, which further increases your bottom line. An average small organisation can save up to £7000 [6], according to the Carbon Trust.

In the UK, heating in corporate buildings makes up 32% of carbon emissions [5]. On top of that, in 2015 the costs of businesses heating amounted to £22.5 billion. Data shows that a business reducing energy costs by 20% affects its bottom line in the same way as a 5% rise in sales.  

The impact of flexible working is not only felt within the organisation. In the United States, for instance, passenger commute [7] is the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, with offices coming in fourth.

The knock-on effects of working from home

Even after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted, giving your employees the option of working from home reduces the number of times they will have to commute to work. Further statistics indicate that in the US when people work from home, they prevent 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses from being emitted [8] as a result of their work commute. This is the same as having 91 million trees planted.

Reducing an employee’s office hours by 10% results in a 15% decrease in that employee’s carbon footprint. Having them work remotely not only reduces greenhouse gasses emitted during their commute, but it also cuts back on their in-office energy costs.

Post-Covid-19 lockdown working from home and flexible working could become the new normal way of working, whilst increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

Footnotes

[1] http://www.think-progress.com/nordic/workplace-efficiency/making-workplaces-more-efficient-through-flexible-working/

[2] https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/rights-at-work/flexible-working/flexible-working-what-is-it/

[3] http://www.think-progress.com/nordic/mobility/flexible-working-on-the-rise-europes-hottest-spots/

[4] https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/flexible-work-improves-mental-health

[5] https://employernews.co.uk/flexible-working/the-green-benefits-of-flexible-working/

[6] http://www.oenmagazine.com/businesses-can-save-up-to-7000-by-going-green

[7] https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions_.html

[8] https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/telecommuting-sustainability-how-telecommuting-is-a-green-job/

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