The Greener Side of Hybrid Work: How It Benefits The Planet

It has long been argued that hybrid work lessens our environmental impact. Now, more research than ever supports this theory.

It has long been argued that hybrid work lessens our environmental impact. Now, more research than ever supports this theory.

Published Jun 21, 2024


#HybridWorking - It has long been argued that hybrid work lessens our environmental impact. Now, more research than ever supports this theory. 

IWG, the world's largest provider of hybrid working solutions, including brands such as Spaces and Regus, surveyed more than 500 leaders and facilities managers at businesses that have adopted hybrid working policies. The findings revealed that average energy consumption in those companies has fallen by 19% since the introduction of hybrid working policies. These policies benefit both the environment and the companies' bottom lines by simply optimising office space usage and providing teams with access to flexible workspaces, which are a key component of the hybrid work model.

“The shift to hybrid work, which blends remote, limited head office time, and flexible office-based work closer to home, has brought numerous benefits for employees and employers. However, often the positive environmental impact is overlooked; , nonetheless, hybrid work can significantly benefit the planet by reducing the need for daily commuting and embracing digital collaboration tools”, says Joanne Bushell, MD, Regus, South Africa

Hybrid working—and the pandemic that accelerated its rise—has brought about major changes to how people perceive their own lives and the world around them. This, along with an unpredictable political and economic climate, has shown people what really matters to them and what they expect from businesses.

Notably, public perception towards businesses has changed, with the rise of hybrid working exemplifying one of those changes. Workers expect more from their employers, and customers expect more from the companies they buy from.

Businesses who have adapted to remote roles during the pandemic and intend to maintain a hybrid way of working are realising that they no longer require expansive, energy-consuming traditional office spaces that remain underused for significant portions of the week.

Regus has played a pivitol role in helping businesses shift to the hybrid model has had a direct positive impact on major environmental concerns. For example, it has guided organisations to shift from their larger, traditional office settings to advanced, eco-friendly shared workspaces, which leads to energy savings on heating, cooling, and lighting.

Smaller, regional flexible workspaces boast higher occupancy rates and, consequently, lower emissions per employee. An earlier survey showed that only one in five would commute more than 30 minutes daily, while 60 per cent want to work within 15 minutes of home.

Not only does hybrid work encourage more sustainable practices, but many of the buildings facilitating the movement are leading the way in green initiatives. 

Here are some key benefits of hybrid working for the planet:

  1. Reduced Carbon Emissions: One of hybrid work's most significant environmental benefits is reducing carbon emissions. With fewer employees commuting to the office daily, the use of fossil fuels for transportation decreases correspondingly. Reducing emissions can help mitigate climate change and improve air quality in urban areas.
  2. Energy Savings: Companies can also reduce energy consumption by encouraging remote work. Fewer employees in the office means lower energy usage for heating, cooling, and lighting. Additionally, using digital communication tools can reduce the need for business travel, lowering energy consumption associated with transportation.
  3. Less Office Waste: With fewer employees in the office, there is likely to be a reduction in office waste. Less paper, plastic, and other materials are used when employees work from home, decreasing overall waste generation. Companies can further reduce waste by encouraging digital documentation and communication.
  4. Resource Conservation: Hybrid work can also contribute to the conservation of natural resources. By reducing the need for daily commuting, companies can help conserve resources such as oil and gas used to fuel vehicles. This reduction in resource consumption can positively impact the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the demand for finite resources.
  5. Hybrid work not only promotes sustainable practices within the workplace but also empowers individuals to make a difference. By working from home and local co-working offices, employees are not just reducing their carbon footprint, they are adopting eco-friendly habits that can inspire others. From reducing energy usage to recycling and using public transportation, these individual actions, when multiplied across a workforce, can have a significant positive impact on the environment.
  6. Enhanced Corporate Social Responsibility: Companies can demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability by adopting hybrid work practices. This not only improves their corporate social responsibility (CSR) profile but also attracts environmentally conscious customers and employees. Importantly, this shift towards sustainability can lead to significant cost savings for companies in the long run, making it a financially sound decision.

Mark Dixon, Regus CEO, stated: "The global shift to hybrid working is not only bringing strong productivity and financial advantages to companies and work-life balance improvements to employees but significant environmental benefits too. This latest research confirms that businesses adopting the hybrid model have reduced energy usage significantly."

“The environmental benefits of hybrid working do not end there. By simply empowering people to work close to where they live, enabling them to split their time between a local workplace and home, earlier research by Arup has shown that this model has the potential to reduce a worker’s work-related carbon emissions by 90%.”

Hybrid work can potentially deliver significant environmental benefits, ranging from reduced carbon emissions and energy consumption to lower waste generation and resource conservation. By embracing remote collaboration and encouraging sustainable practices, companies can contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for all.

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