Blended Working - Good for you. Good for the Environment.

Sep 27, 2021

18 months ago, the ‘Work from Home’ movement was building momentum, but for the vast majority of office workers, the concept of having a permanent full time office seemed unlikely.

The pandemic saw something we never thought we would witness in our lifetime, where industry and businesses grounded to a halt, forcing workers to remain within the confines of their homes.

Following the government’s recent announcement to ease restrictions on returning to the workplace from September 20th, we are going to see a large percentage of the workforce leave this familiar space. For some this will be a positive progression, others not so much.

Recently, one of my team members was on his way to Dublin city and rang me to say how abysmal the traffic difference was in the city centre compared to even the past weeks. The dreaded commute and traffic has finally returned.

Those who are eager to get back to socialising with work colleagues and separating their professional and personal lives will accept once again the issue that comes with the masses travelling to their workplace. 

However many as I’ve previously highlighted, have realized that working from home fits their schedules far better. In fact, many have found that working from home makes them more productive and gives them a better sense of a life/work balance.

From an environmental point of view, working from home can have huge advantages in terms of reducing our CO2 emissions, and governments should take careful consideration of the learning outcomes from this pandemic.

Let’s add up some numbers:

  • Johnny has a mid-range car, the Suzuki Baleno which drives a distance of 19.5 Km per litre.
  • Let’s say that Johnny drives 30 km to reach his office 5 days a week and so his driving distance per week is 300 Km, over the past 18 months that amounts to 23,400 Km.
  • The total use of petrol on those 18 months would have been 1,200 litres.
  • Which equites to an average of 2.76 tonnes of Co2 emissions (EPA Ireland conversion values)

Remember - that is just Johnny. He also works alongside 100 people in his office who achieved on average, very similar reductions. And then there is the company down the road from Johnny’s workplace, with 50 employees, and so on and so on.

While some political parties highlight the need for more cycling routes, public transport and walk to work initiatives, are we missing a trick by not setting up legislation that favours employers that allow their employees to work from home?

Would this be viewed as “unfair” to those employers that can not allow working from home like the Hospitality industry?

The reality is that the easiest and fastest way to reduce CO2 emissions from transport is to actually reduce our need to travel. With emissions from transport accounting for 40% of Ireland’s emissions, it seems ridiculous to me not to take stock of the lessons the pandemic have put in front of us.

Allowing people to work from home would:

  • Reduce transport CO2 emissions.
  • Assists reduce traffic levels in our city centres.
  • Allow the possibility of more pedestrianised streets in city centres and safer roads.
  • Reduce air pollution
  • Reduce stress from those people sitting in traffic

When it comes to the environment, policy needs to be driven by data. A simple exercise like the example I have just highlighted, to calculate possible CO2 emission reductions, can be achieved by anyone. This should be done by everyone and it should influence our government’s decision making.

Environmental Data is the most powerful tool we have to inform long lasting solutions.


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