An emerging trend that offers significant reductions in carbon emissions is working from home, or telecommuting. Kim Lonsdale takes a look.
This may not be an option for every company or every person but for those who work in an office setting it represents an excellent opportunity to reduce costs and carbon emissions for both employees and employer.
Consider that each day 11.4 million Canadians spent an average of 50 minutes travelling to and from work in their vehicle. If we assume that it took two litres of fuel for them to travel 20 kilometres round-trip, this would generate over 12 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
The average office space per worker has declined over the past decade from 260 square feet to 160 square feet and this generates about 7.9 kilograms of carbon emissions per square foot – or another 14.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions. The total amount of 26.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions – which is about the same as the total carbon emissions of the Czech Republic.
Global Workplace Analytics is an internationally recognized authority on emerging workplace strategies and makes a compelling case for why organizations should consider telecommuting. Businesses and public policymakers can use this information to consider the various issues associated with telecommuting.
In today's digital workplaces, advanced information and communications technologies make it much easier to manage and monitor workplace performance and this has made it possible for an increasing number of Canadians to telecommute at least some of the time. The greatest barrier to adoption of the remote workplace concept are long-held workplace paradigms that are no longer relevant, but old habits die hard.
The fact that CBC is reporting that premium office space in Vancouver now sells for $2,000 per square foot should be cause for corporate and government decision-makers to reflect on this topic.
At a time when many British Columbians share a concern that our major cities are becoming increasingly unaffordable, governments should be considering policies that encourage employers to allow their workers to telecommute as a means of saving them both time and cost of driving to work. This type of “low-hanging fruit” policy would represent a win for employers, a win for workers, a major win for the environment and a win for governments seeking to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments.
Most importantly, these are actions that can be taken without unduly constraining sectors of our economy that are vital to our future prosperity.
Kim Lonsdale is a business analyst and management consultant based on Vancouver Island.