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Flexible working: A new and unlikely weapon in the fight against climate change

The Suburban Economic Study, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independent economists, projected the environmental benefits of locating flexible workspaces in smaller towns, cities and suburban areas between now and 2029.

As people commute closer to home their carbon footprint falls significantly reveals Regus commissioned Suburban Economic Study By 2029, flexible spaces will reduce carbon emissions globally by the equivalent of 1,280 flights between London to New York every year By allowing people to work closer to home, a local office space will save workers an average of 7,416 hours per year in reduced commuting times, equating to a reduction of 118 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per centre, per year

There’s a new and unlikely weapon in the fight against climate change – flexible working. As co-working spaces are increasingly located outside of major city centres and business districts, lengthy and environmentally-damaging commutes are becoming a thing of the past.

In fact, as the growth of flexi-working explodes in areas outside of major cities, new research reveals that, by 2029, ‘outer city’ office spaces will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1,280 transatlantic flights between London and New York each year. That’s 2,560,000 metric tonnes of carbon stopped from entering the atmosphere annually, just by working nearer to home.

The Suburban Economic Study, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independent economists, projected the environmental benefits of locating flexible workspaces in smaller towns, cities and suburban areas between now and 2029.

The findings of the study echo and are in line with the UAE Vision 2021 that focuses on Sustainable Environment and Infrastructure as one of the key national priorities to achieve a perfect balance between economic and social development. Encouraging the active involvement of businesses and industries in moving towards environmental sustainability at the workplace is also reiterated by National Environmental Education and Awareness Strategy 2015-2021.   

Read: Remote working: Tips to design your home office to optimize productivity

Kory W. Thompson, Country Head Middle East for Regus’ parent company IWG, said: “Flexible Workspaces can contribute significantly to helping organizations in the UAE become more environmentally friendly by reducing carbon emissions produced by daily commuting. They allow every business and individual an opportunity to act responsibly towards their environment by reducing pollution.”

Regus supports environmental sustainability with flexible workspaces, offering of 21 business centers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. Our goal is to offer flexible working spaces from Ras Al Khaimah to Abu Dhabi that benefit personnel health, as well as that of our planet. Regus will be opening new business centers in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah in 2020, and is looking for partners to collaborate on new centers in the Northern Emirates, including Fujairah and Al Ain.”

What a difference a centre makes

By allowing people to work closer to home, a local office space will save workers an average of 7,416 hours per year in reduced commuting times, equating to a reduction of 118 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per centre, per year. 

In the USA, where commuting times can be among the longest, this reduction increases to 208 metric tonnes per year. In emerging markets, the carbon saving may be smaller, such as in India, which will see a reduction of 54 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per year. However, its polluted cities, like Delhi where pollution routinely reaches hazardous levels, could still see a significant impact on air quality.

The report also revealed those moving from flexible working at home to a co-working space will be doing their bit for the environment. That’s because it’s likely to be more energy efficient to heat and light a shared space than a home for one, solitary worker.

Read: Remote working on the rise: opportunity for abuse?

Business benefits

The rise in local working is largely driven by big companies adopting flexible working policies; moving away from relying on a single, central HQ and instead basing employees outside of the major metropolitan hubs in flex spaces.

The study also revealed the economic benefits of these suburban spaces and found the ‘flex economy’ could contribute more than $254 billion to local economies in the next decade. It found that on average 121 new jobs are created in communities that contain a flexible workspace, with an extra $9.63 million going directly into the local economy. 

You can download the full report here