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Study finds that working part-time from home could cause harm to the environment

Study finds that working part-time from home could cause harm to the environment

A permanent post-pandemic switch to hybrid working may do little to reduce carbon emissions, new research from the University of Sussex Business School claims (file photo)

A new study has found that part-time work from home could be detrimental to the environment, as it encourages people further from the office.

Researchers found that those who work remotely even once a week live farther away than those who work full-time in an office.

Remote workers must travel more miles per week even though they make fewer trips. This causes their vehicles to emit more carbon emissions.

Experts also found that remote workers travel more on days they are away from home, such as by taking extra trips to cafes and shops.

They suggest that a permanent post pandemic switch to hybrid work after the Covid pandemic could do little to reduce carbon emission.

A permanent post-pandemic switch to hybrid working may do little to reduce carbon emissions, new research from the University of Sussex Business School claims (file photo)

New research by the University of Sussex Business School suggests that a permanent switch to hybrid work after a pandemic may not be enough to reduce carbon emissions (file photo).

DISTANCES IN MILES TRANSFERRED PER WEEK

Non-teleworker

– Less than one time per year or never -63.5

– Once or two times per year -91

– Less than 1 per month, more than twice per year – 104

– Once or two times per month – 101-5

– Less than one week and more than twice a year – 102.7

Medium-frequency remote worker

– Once or two times per week – 100.7

High-frequency remote worker

– Three to five times per week – 62.3

The distances covered in the study were made using a combination of cars and public transport, such as buses and trams. Each of these emits more emissions than others.

The University of Sussex Business School in Brighton performed the study, which was published in the journalTransportation Research Part A.

Steven Sorrell, a professor of energy policies at the University of Sussex Business School, said that “our study found that remote working can have unintended effects that offset the potential travel or carbon savings.”

You may be able to choose to live further away from your workplace if you only commute for a few days each week.

“And if you work from home during the day you might choose to go on additional trips, perhaps to shop or just to get out of the house.

These possibilities must be considered when estimating the carbon impact of teleworking.

The study used data from England’s National Travel Survey to calculate the impact of remote work on travel patterns in English households during the period 2005 to 2019, before the Covid pandemic.

The researchers analysed information from approximately 3.6 Million trips by approximately 269,000 people.

The team compared the distance and trips taken by remote workers with those who did not work from home (the ‘non-teleworkers)

On average (mean), people who worked from home less than once a month but more than twice a year travelled the greatest weekly distance -104 miles

The average weekly mileage travelled by people who work from home less than once per month but more often than twice per year was 104 miles.

WORKING FROM HOME ‘INCREASES THE RISK OF MISTAKES’

The risk of making mistakes when working from home is higher, according to a study that examined the quality of chess play in 2021.

Researchers discovered that the standard was significantly lower when players competed online rather than face-to-face. This suggests that being away from the office can be detrimental to productivity.

They observed nearly 215,000 chess moves from players in digital and in-person tournaments. Then, they used artificial intelligence to check them against the best play.

He stated that the research showed that remote work could make it difficult for people to perform mentally-intense tasks alone.

Continue reading: Working from home increases the risk of making mistakes

They controlled for a variety socio-economic and demographic variables, such as occupation, industrial status, and residential status.

According to the findings, employees who worked remotely once or twice per week travelled an average 100.7 miles each week, as compared to 63.5 miles for those who stayed home less than once per year.

However, those who worked from home more than once per year travelled on average 62 miles per week.

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People who worked from home less often than once per month, but more than twice per year, travelled the most weekly distance of 104 miles.

According to their findings, those who worked from home at least three times per week were on average 4.2 miles closer to their workplace than full-time employees.

However, workers who worked from home on an average of 7 miles more than those who work full-time in offices lived 7.6 miles farther than their counterparts.

This means that people who work from home one, two, three or four days a week live farther away than those who work in an office every day.

The team also found that more people traveled weekly to households where at least one person was remote working. This suggests that remote workers encourage greater travel by their family members and flatmates.

Remote workers therefore have to travel more miles in a given week, even though they're making fewer trips, and so their vehicles release more carbon emissions (file photo)

Remote workers must travel more miles per week even though they make fewer trips. This causes their vehicles to emit more carbon dioxide (file photo).

Bernardo Caldarola is the lead author of the study. He pointed out that they haven’t demonstrated a causal relationship in their research.

They haven’t proved that remote working patterns cause certain travel patterns.

He stated that travel patterns of teleworkers and nonteleworkers could be caused by unobserved differences. More research is needed to address this issue.

The data was also collected before the pandemic. A follow-up study that assessed travel patterns post Covid would likely provide better information that could be used to date.

Teleworking has many environmental benefits. However, it is also dependent on other developments in sustainable travel like using electric vehicles or bikes to travel to work.

MICROSOFT STUDY SAYS THAT WORKING FROM HOME IMPAIRS CREATIVITY and TEAMWORK

Microsoft has revealed that working remotely reduces creativity, communication, and teamwork. This was according to a 2021 study.

Researchers at the tech giant analyzed data from more 61,000 employees between December 2019, prior lockdown, and June 2020.

They discovered that working from home (WFH), made workers more isolated in their communication and led to fewer real-time conversations.

It also made it difficult for employees in different departments to share and acquire new information. This could have implications for a company’s ‘productivity, innovation’.

The flip side was that employees working remotely meant they were spending less time in meetings, which are often criticized for being too long and a waste.

Continue reading: Microsoft study shows that working from home can stifle creativity and teamwork

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