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Homeworking could cut carbon emissions by three million tonnes

Allowing people to work from home could cut businesses’ carbon emissions by as much as three million tonnes, new research has suggested.

According to a study by the Carbon Trust, the widespread access to fast broadband, smartphones and the use of cloud storage has made homeworking a viable option for most companies. If staff are able to work from the comfort of their own home, companies can downsize their energy needs within their offices.

Furthermore, if employees were working remotely then they would provide significant environment benefits by not having to drive to the office.

The Carbon Trust points to telecoms giant BT’s homeworking policy, which apparently saved 14,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent over 12 months. The change meant BT could reduce its office space and save £60 million a year – roughly £6,000 per full-time homeworker.

Hugh Jones, managing director of advisory at the Carbon Trust, commented: “Homeworking is on the rise, with numbers increasing by over half a million since 2007… In the right circumstances, it has the potential to be expanded significantly and be a win-win for business and the environment.”

However, some have stressed that the energy saving benefits of working from home should not be overestimated. On the one hand, it is suggested that some homes are not as run as efficiently as modern offices, thus meaning that having someone at home – requiring the heating and electricity to be on – would be worse for the environment. As such, the real benefits are only said to be realised when the homeworker is located a long way from the office.

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