Just catching up on a news item I saw last week on the BBC news site, headlined “Drivers cut petrol use by 15%, AA research suggests”.
The piece is written as a bad-news story: yet more evidence of the economic turmoil, doom and gloom. Of course, it is equally a good news story for the environment and often it takes extreme situations to change long-term behaviour. Like most people, I complain about the ever-increasing cost of fuel and the obscenely large cut which the UK government takes by way of fuel-duty. However, if we believe in the weight of scientific evidence: that global warming is real and unwelcome and that humanity must reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, then reducing our fuel consumption by reducing miles travelled is the right behaviour.
The article implies that this behaviour is involuntary and driven purely by cost but the research doesn’t appear to have looked at motives.
Earlier this year, a report by the Telework Research Centre pointed to the significant benefits of people working from home just two days a week (see my post from April). These include:
- a 20% increase in productivity;
- a 15% saving in real estate costs; and
- a 7% reduction in absenteeism.
Not to mention the broader environmental benefits.
Organisations and individuals should both consider how flexible working technologies and methodologies could not only reduce fuel bills but bring a whole raft of benefits to everyone involved. As with the growth in freelancing (another dimension of flexibility), maybe the imperatives of high costs and a tight economy will yield a lasting change in behaviour and a breakaway from outmoded, Industrial Revolution models of work.