Oxford university report reveals that homeworking can reduce global warming

An Oxford University report has revealed that working from home can help reduce the emission of the gases that cause global warming. The study, which pulls together research from around the world, demonstrates conclusively, that the reduction in commuting time resulting from people working at home will mean less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere - one of the gases that causes global warming.

However, the research also shows that while more and more people want to work from home, the benefits of this trend are being undermined by poor co-operation by both Government and business over issues such as transport and the provision of IT.

"The research is clear: Working from home really can help reduce our carbon footprint as a country - if we manage it correctly," said Professor David Banister, one of the authors of the study, "Managing homeworking correctly will involve changes in behaviour. This would include providing secure and efficient technology to facilitate collaboration as well as properly managing heating at the employers end and the reduction of office space and heating costs at the employee's end. If people work more than one day a week from home then significant environmental savings can be made."

The report, commissioned by Giritech, specialists in delivering secure remote access and BT Conferencing, the conferencing services division of BT, "The Costs of Transport on the Environment – The Role of Teleworking in Reducing Carbon Emissions" has been released to coincide with National Work from Home Day on the 18th May 2007.

The study makes it clear that there is a need for more coherent policies to take advantage of the environmental savings that could be made from more sensible working policies.

"Working from home has not featured very highly in Government policy and there has not been any clear statement or encouragement from central or local Government on this. There is an opportunity for teleworking to sit at the heart of a co-ordinated policy that could involve sustainable transport," said Banister, who added that homeworking would only really take-off with either a carbon-tax or tax incentives by the Government.

Aaron McCormack, CEO BT Conferencing said: "By enabling people to work at home some or all of the time through the provision of collaborative technology the impact on the environment can be significant. On average, one conference call to replace a face to face meeting can save up to 40kg of CO2."

The report found that 83% of workers still believe that it is not possible to work from home. Yet, 65% are "very" or "somewhat" interested in at least one type of telework and 33% of all UK workers regard their job as feasible for homeworking for at least one day per week.

Key obstacles to the adoption of homeworking among smaller business were a lack of technology, and a lack of support from senior staff. The report predicts a growth in home workers to 4.16m of which 2.6m will use a phone and computer in 2010. Futhermore, the number of commuter trips have fallen 8% in the ten years from 1995-2005. But journey lengths have also increased by half a mile (approximately 6%) and travel time has risen by 13% in the same time period.

Aamir Butt, Giritech UK CEO, said: "This really is a wake-up call. Whilst there is a real desire by employees to work from home, this interest is not being met by employers. This shows a need for businesses to take steps to enable workers to work from home to reduce their carbon footprint. It also shows that the concerns of employers must also be met and a major concern for businesses in this age of data theft and internet crime is security."

"Remote workers are prime targets and any computer being used remotely must be as secure as one in an office, clearly this needs to be addressed," said Butt.

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