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Companies can significantly reduce carbon emissions by 70-87% by allowing employees to work closer to home: IWG-Arup research

New Delhi,April 21, 2023: Flexible workspace solutions provider, IWG on Friday released a report ahead of World Earth Day that examines the impact of hybrid working on carbon emissions. The report, titled The Future of Work: A Cleaner, Hybrid Future, was conducted in partnership with Arup, a team of experts and advisors dedicated to sustainable development. Hybrid working can facilitate major carbon savings and has the potential for significant impact on the climate crisis as per the report. The report quantifies the environmental impact of a hybrid working model in terms of carbon emissions. The research compares the carbon impact of hybrid working against commuting into a city centre five times a week. The report deliberates whether hybrid working has made a tangible difference to the carbon footprints on six cities across the US and UK with a deep dive on two major carbon contributors – London and LA. Others examined were New York City, Atlanta, Manchester, and Glasgow.

All six cities showed the potential for huge carbon savings through the widespread adoption of hybrid working, which has rapidly expanded amongst white collar workers, who are now using the available technology to work where is most convenient and they are most productive. Cities in the U.S. showed the largest potential carbon savings when also taking transport into consideration, due to the prevalence of commuting by car, with Atlanta (90% reduction) just edging out Los Angeles (87%) and New York (82%).

The potential carbon savings remain significant for UK cities with Glasgow (80%), Manchester (70%) and London (49%) all showing potential to benefit from workers reducing their commutes and working closer to home as part of a hybrid model. 

IWG’s study with Arup compared different working scenarios for white-collar workers including: 

  • Exclusively from city centre workspaces
  • From city centre workspaces and local workspaces 
  • From city centre workspaces and home
  • A combination of all three 

The team looked at the total emissions per worker based on transport, heating, cooling, lighting, energy use and more, to understand the climate impact. 

The report also acknowledges that while more local working has a role to play in reducing an individual’s carbon footprint, other factors heavily influence where people choose to work. These include camaraderie with colleagues, economic benefits, and the variety and excitement of urban life. Choosing to cycle, walk or take public transport would further reduce carbon emissions, regardless of where one works.

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Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG, commented,:  

“This new research reveals we have an extraordinary opportunity to radically reduce humanity’s negative environmental impact by encouraging the adoption of hybrid working. Five-day commuting to city centre offices has the largest carbon footprint of any working model”. 

Matthew Dillon, Director of City Economics and Planning at Arup said: “This research clearly shows that changing our behaviour is key to achieving our carbon targets.  We can choose to walk and cycle, and to make more journeys by public transport.  Governments must also choose to invest in these networks and use them to secure both environmental benefits and economic growth.”

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