The less time we spend commuting to and from work is more time we can spend doing other things – like not filling the air with up to 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
A new study by Regus says that increased uptake of flexible working could save 900,000 tonnes per year in New Zealand. Worldwide, it could save up to 214 million tonnes per year.
The study, which analysed the socio-economic impact of flexible working in 16 countries including New Zealand and Australia, found that flexible working will contribute US$10.04 trillion to the economies of those countries by 2030 – more than the current GDP of Japan and Germany combined.
If the growth in flexible workplaces continues, people worldwide could save more than 3.53 billion commuting hours every year by 2030.
Regus says that reduction in hours is equivalent to the amount of carbon that is filtered by 5.5 billion trees over a ten year period.
In New Zealand, workers could save between 7.7 and 8.8 million hours of commuting time every year.
The Regus report also found that by 2030, between NZ$16.2 billion and NZ$18.1 billion is expected to be added to the New Zealand economy by flexible working, especially in several key industries, and between 74,000 and 83,000 additional jobs created.
The largest New Zealand contributors to the expected increase are six sectors: property services, professional services, financial services, information and communications activities, public administration and business support services.
According to CBRE Pacific’s Corporate Co-working Survey: The Future is Flexible report, 47% of New Zealand office tenants plan to reduce their traditional leased office footprint space in the next two years. 47% of tenants are also looking to increase co-working space use, the report also found.
“Simply changing the dominant culture of commuting to a central office for work could contribute towards climate change goals,” comments Regus New Zealand country manager Pierre Ferrandon.
“According to the UN Environment Program, the world needs to slash its annual greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 12 to 14 billion metric tonnes by 2030 to have a chance of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.”
“By allowing workers to set up at an office space closer to home, and cut down on commuting, millions of tonnes of carbon could be saved each year. With an environment in crisis, offering flexible working isn’t just a business or personal imperative, but one that also benefits the planet and future generations.”
The commuting hours and carbon saving have been calculated using a scenario of ‘accelerated growth’ in flexible working uptake. There was also a ‘growth as usual’ scenario, which is used in the full report.