Compared with city center offices, local workspaces were found to have less emissions per square meter of floor area. Image – Canva
  • Transport represents a fifth of Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions
  • An international study found that hybrid working can slash carbon emissions
  • IWG CEO says spending less time in or travelling to a city centre drives a drop in emissions

With transport accounting for close to a fifth of Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions, hybrid working models have the potential to facilitate major carbon savings along with a myriad of other benefits.

The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, reveals that the transport sector contributed to 18.7% of Australia’s national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent study conducted by IWG, the largest global flexible workspace provider, and sustainable consultancy company Arup has found that hybrid working can help countries take strides to address the climate crisis.

The IWG study measured the environmental impact of hybrid working in six cities across the US and UK.

The study examined various working scenarios for white-collar workers, including working exclusively from city centre workspaces, from city centre workspaces and local workspaces, from city centre workspaces and home, and a combination of all three.

IWG CEO, Mark Dixon, explains that the five-day commuting to city centre offices has the largest carbon footprint of any working model.

“This new research reveals we have an extraordinary opportunity to radically reduce humanity’s negative environmental impact by encouraging the adoption of hybrid working.

Dixon says allowing people to work close to home or enabling them to split their time between home and a local workplace, has the potential to significantly cut worker-related emissions.

The report concluded that occupancy is the biggest driver of the differences between a local workspace and an office in the city centre. Local workspaces have higher occupancy, reducing the emissions per employee.

“Simply spending less time in or travelling to a city centre drives a drop in emissions from buildings and vehicles alike.”

Mark Dixon, IWG CEO

According to the study, hybrid working can reduce work-related carbon emissions by up to 70% in the UK and up to 87% in the US due to a reduction in building and transport emissions.

Behavioural change is key

Arup Director of City Economics and Planning Matthew Dillon says changing behaviour will also be essential 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,” Dillon says.

Other research has found that hybrid work has benefits beyond the environment. The study found that new work styles are leading to a healthier workforce, with more time now being dedicated to exercise, sleep and healthy eating.

On average, the hybrid worker is now getting almost 80 minutes more exercise now than before the pandemic; the current average is 4.7 hours, while pre-pandemic averages were 3.4 hours.

Hybrid workers are also able to sleep longer, according to the study, amounting to around three extra days of sleep per year.

“Stress management and social connections are also incredibly important to mental wellbeing. A healthy work/life balance is essential to achieving these, allowing people to work closer to home and make more time for family, friends and stress-busting hobbies,” said Dr Sara Kayat, of the second study mentioned regarding hybrid work health benefits.

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