Could cutting the commute be your company’s single biggest green step?

Could cutting the commute be your company’s single biggest green step?

Helping employees work closer to where they live can drastically reduce your carbon footprint

According to recent research by UBS, one in five people cut down on the number of flights they took last year. Sustainability has moved to the forefront of people’s minds, and the Swedish concept of “flygskam” (flight shame) appears to becoming more common. On the subject of travel, perhaps the environmental impact of the work commute should be next on the agenda – both for individuals and for businesses.

Mounting evidence shows there’s a clear environmental gain to be made by cutting out the daily office commute. A recent report by Development Economics, commissioned by Regus, found that by helping people work closer to where they actually live, the average flexible workspace location saves 118 metric tonnes of carbon each year. Globally, this adds up to 2,560,000 tonnes per year – the same as 128,000 flights between London and New York.

Thanks to the increasingly digital nature of many jobs, the need for many of us to commute to an HQ on a daily basis is being called into question. IWG’s most recent Global Workspace Survey found that more than half the world’s workforce now does the day job outside of their company’s headquarters for at least 2.5 days each week. The rapid international growth of the flexspace industry means there are locations in towns, suburbs and villages all over the world. And because IWG’s network of 3,500 flexspace locations exists beyond city centres, it enables companies to lease high-quality, professional offices for employees in their local areas, often within walking distance of home.

For corporate property directors and brokers, there’s a real opportunity to use the rise of remote and flexible working as a chance to challenge a client’s status quo when it comes to leasing workspace – and significantly reduce their business carbon footprint, while also stripping out other inefficiencies. Reducing emissions by cutting commutes is just one way that opting for flexspace can contribute to a greener workspace. In essence, flexspace helps companies rethink their approach to leasing workspace because they only consume and pay for the resources they need.

Unlike conventional office space – in which a set amount of square footage is leased for a set amount of time – flexspace helps companies optimise office use. With flexspace, businesses can choose to upscale or downsize the number of desks in line with changes to their staff numbers, so there’s no need to pay for unused resources. And by sharing reception areas, kitchens and business lounges with other tenants in the same location, companies split the costs of leasing and maintaining the facilities. Using workspace more intelligently in this way significantly reduces the amount of wasted electricity and water, which not only minimises a company’s environmental impact but also its expenses.

Innovations in green architecture keep coming, and today’s generation of office buildings is increasingly built with sustainability in mind. In future, carbon-neutral workspace will become the ideal, with smart materials and biophilic design at the heart of construction. This is another advantage the majority of flexspace locations offer over conventional office space: they tend to be newer and more modern, containing facilities purposefully designed with forward-thinking, environmentally-conscious businesses in mind. Employers speak volumes about their commitment to sustainability through the eco-friendliness of their everyday operations, which is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of employees too. Therefore, office space that helps staff keep their carbon footprint to a minimum could become key to talent retention.

Building flexspace into a client’s office portfolio is a big step towards reducing their impact on the planet. Rather than compromising on quality, it’s about finding win/win situations that create much-needed efficiencies – streamlining processes and ending habits that are fast looking dated. And perhaps the two-hour daily commute should be the first thing to go.

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