Homeworking – the environmental impact.

homeworking environmental impacts a laptop in candle light

Will an increased emphasis on homeworking have an environmental impact? and, Can we expect to pay more to live in the new normal?

“Heating” up because more power = more heat.

Working from home will see significantly higher energy consumption throughout the day.

This may lead to a greater focus by consumers and suppliers on a more sophisticated range of tariffs, green energy options, insulation in houses etc. After all, if we’re at home we want to be warm to work.

However, higher daytime fuel consumption will put a strain on electricity supplies leading to higher tariffs for new energy-hungry consumers. More homes will need more electricity for heating, cooking and coffee etc as oil, gas and other old boilers are replaced.

Furthermore, as internet connected devices increasingly support homeworking, demand for data and shared service centres will also increase electricity consumption and heat.

Supply chain opportunities and vehicle pollution.

Support for the burgeoning home office economy will continue to provide increased business opportunities because demand for secure and timely home delivery will increase.

Therefore, a new network structure will begin to offer localised businesses advantages over big regional or national operations. From suppling sandwiches to supplying office materials, things will get ‘local’!

John Collingridge reported in The Sunday Times (06/09/20) that there had been a 122% increase in home food deliveries, and a 62% increase in other deliveries. This had led to a 20% rise in the cost of some delivery vans.

6 positive changes we can hope to see in this new lifestyle!

  1. More click and collect hubs will appear through supermarkets, garden centres and superstores.
  2. Closer-to-home production and distribution hubs will emerge to provide increased local delivery with,
  3. Eco-friendly electric delivery vehicles may be used (as distances will be shorter) and,
  4. More technology-based firms entering the distribution market.
  5. Increased infrastructure for greener transport like bicycles, electric bikes and scooters. So, this is an opportunity for new businesses but potentially a threat to other forms of mobility.
  6. Increased community awareness and collectives (from car sharing to ‘shared spaces for popup or local shops’).

5 negative changes that, unfortunately, we may see!

  • For click-and-collect, access to and affordability of comprehensive local public transport networks will become a hot political topic as businesses cut back on traditional perks for their employees.
  • Inequality rising in areas poorly served by public transport where travel is more difficult. In the short-term, this may challenge the government’s agenda on infrastructure, rural mobility and green objectives.
  • Increased road congestion. – Smaller scale hub-and-spoke operations is likely to lead to increased local traffic congestion; because,
  • More ‘white-vans’ will appear to support our ‘need it now’ homeworking. This support will have an environmental negative impact and ignite the petrol vs electric vs diesel commercial vehicle debate; because,
  • The increase in demand on the local supply chain networks will highlight the limited range for electric commercial vehicles. This will lead to individuals and households paying disproportionately more for the governments green agenda and air pollution targets.

Owning a car may well become more expensive both for a business and an individual.

It is possible that homeworking will have a net negative environmental impact. What should we do?

We must better insulate our homes and reduce our supply chain demands or, the power and transport impact may well outweigh the benefits of reduced commuting.

The global pandemic has already had a big impact on the environment. However, it is too early to say yet how much this will be and how we can best mitigate it for the future. Plastics will remain a key issue for some time to come.

Plastics. Ironically, the pandemic has caused the acceleration of mass-produced PPE which focusses on single use and other plastics in gowns, masks, visors etc as well as detergents and sanitisers.