Flexible Working - We're Saving the World!

News from Fifty Acres

Fifty Acres is already fairly proud of its flexible work model. It’s proving to be efficient, successful and cost effective, as recently picked up by Canberra Business News.

Not only that, recent research confirms what we had always suspected.

We're saving the world!

It might seem fairly obvious that working from home could produce a few energy savings here and there, but numbers recently publicised by job-hunt site FlexJobs suggest that flexible working policies could have a more substantial impact on lowering the planet's carbon emissions than initially thought.

In a press release timed with Earth Day, FlexJobs spoke to Xerox, Dell and Aetna about the environmental savings generated by its flexible employment policies and discovered that the three companies had saved 95,294 metric tons of greenhouse emissions between them in 2014: the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off the road.

This is an eye-opening figure (as well as a masterful piece of PR for the web-based recruitment firm and companies involved).

In a media landscape where getting any kind of information about climate change to cut through is challenging at best, the US-based numbers cited from Global Workplace Analytics were even more impactful.

According to the independent research body: “If employees who held telework-compatible jobs (50% of the workforce) and wanted to work at home (79% of the workforce) did so just half of the time, consumers would save $20 billion at the pumps, there would be a reduction in greenhouse gases by 54 million tons - the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road for a year – and there would be a saving in over 640 million barrelsof oil.”

And as if all that wasn’t enough, Dell also claim that flexible working saved it $12 million in 2014.

All this surely begs the question, is the day of the office over? It seems like a no-brainer; the research points out these numbers don't even factor in things like less paper and reduced emissions from plane travel (it turns out that people print less when no longer protected by the anonymity of the big bulky machine churning away down the corridor, and fly less once they're into the swing of a Skype chat).

The pure scale of these figures means the economics is more relevant to the US market, but the pragmatic side of working across large distances is Australia's specialty.

Could an uplift in flexible working models mean a redistribution of population, or a boost to regional economies? What would it mean for remote communities and country towns if more professionals didn't have to live a stone's throw from a state capital? Could flexible working even bring down the price of housing in Sydney in Melbourne? (Now maybe that's taking things a step too far.)

There's definitely value in interacting directly with colleagues, and many other advantages to the office environment covered in many other blogs. But the list in favour of flexible working models is starting to look pretty long; productivity, cost efficiency and some serious planet-saving. Surely no one can deny that derisive jokes about working in your pyjamas are starting to look a little old-fashioned!