New polling from Hubbub has revealed that employees want to almost double the time they work from home compared to life before COVID-19. This has an impact on domestic energy use and carbon emissions. Over half of the people polled noticed an increase in use and costs for gas and electricity. How should companies respond to this change in working patterns and what are the implications for carbon reporting and sustainability strategies?

Supporting employees with increasing domestic bills

The polling suggested that the majority of employees would welcome support from their employers in helping them to reduce the environmental impact of working from home. This was particularly the case for younger employees with 3 in 5 concerned about having to pay for higher domestic bills.

The sustainability strategies for companies are being slow to adapt to the rapid shift to homeworking. The polling revealed that 15% of respondents have said their company is supporting them with the costs of household energy bills, but there is clearly much more to be done. Only 28% of respondents said they are aware of their company’s sustainability strategy and knew what role they could play in meeting ambitions.

The transition to increased levels of homeworking also has implications for company carbon reporting. What is the carbon impact of more people working from home? This shift might reduce carbon emissions from travel, but they could increase if people are heating a large number of poorly insulated homes rather than working from one well-insulated office powered by renewable energy.

What does homeworking mean for carbon reporting?

Companies such as NatWest Group have realised the significance of this change of working patterns. The business announced ambitious targets to reduce climate impact, including making operations net zero by the end of 2020. However, homeworking emissions were initially excluded from the footprint calculations due to the historic lack of a clear methodology and the associated data collection challenges.

To overcome this data deficit they joined a partnership with Lloyds Banking Group, the energy provider Bulb and environmental consultants EcoAct to create the first ever open-source carbon calculation methodology for homeworking, which can be downloaded here.

Integrating home energy reporting into corporate strategy

This is clearly an important step forward, but what are the implications for corporate strategy? For instance, should companies ask their employees to share home energy bills to help with their reporting? The Hubbub polling revealed that a surprisingly high 62% of people would be willing to share this information.

The polling also revealed that younger people have significantly higher expectations from employers with regard to environmental action, suggesting that businesses seeking to attract the next generation of talent need to be on the front foot to meet their expectations.

To start considering these questions, Hubbub will be bringing together representatives from some of the UK’s largest employers on Thursday 25th March 2021 to discuss and share best practice in tackling the environmental impact of working from home. This will be the first in a new series of discussions we will be arranging called ‘Informal Conversations’, created to provide an informal space for companies to discuss responses to new environmental challenges. We will be sharing a link to a summary of the main points from the discussion in our newsletter next week.

Have your say

If there are any other topics you would like us to cover at future ‘Informal Conversations discussions, please send over your thoughts. We were thinking ‘How should companies engage with COP26?’ could be of interest – what do you think? 

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