Only 5% of employed people in the UK worked from home in 2019. The start of the pandemic and the night closure of offices during the first closure meant that 47% of employees worked the same in April 2020.
Although it is now possible to return to work in full-time offices, the latest data from May show that 26% still work from home, while a further 11% are hybrid working hours: sharing their working hours between the office and home.
With fewer people traveling to work and less food consumed as previously organized work events were held online, many hoped the transition to telecommuting would benefit workers and the environment.
But that may not be the case. Not everyone can afford a home office, or additional heating bills or internet. And the loss of scale that is involved in heating and cooling individual homes during the day compared to offices can mean that teleworking is less energy efficient.
Our study of adaptations of office workers who worked from home during the first closure in 2020 revealed two worrying trends: duplication of office equipment and demand for more space and larger houses.
Interviews with 17 households in the UK, selected because of their different professional backgrounds, ages and sizes, revealed how and why some people switched from work at kitchen tables and sofas, expecting the lock to last a few weeks, to create a more durable and quality set – oops.
To adapt it and re-create offices at home, workers bought appliances and furniture that were often transported around the world. World sales of laptops and desktops increased by 11.2% in the period from April to June 2020, with a delivery of 72.3 million units. Monitor sales have also risen, and webcams have been temporarily sold out across the UK. Online searches of office desks and chairs increased by 438% and 300%, respectively, compared to the previous year.
The purchase of office equipment and furniture peaked during the first closure, but demand is likely to remain high. Five times more people now want to work from home compared to 2019.
Making offices at home with new chairs, computers, monitors, desks and stands has also sparked a desire for larger homes.
Demand for larger houses
Our research found that working from home meant more people wanted homes with larger kitchens, spare rooms, offices, garages and gardens. Whether it was a shame that your partner’s colleagues spotted you in yoga shorts or the horror of rushing off the screen to chase your naked son, the lockup led to a collective reconsideration of what you need from home. The feeling of silence and privacy is usually lost when more people share a room. Although many offices are essentially spaces for working together, it has proved difficult to work in the same room as another that does a different job — especially when making an audio or video call.
Since the first locking of houses, sales have increased, and in June, the largest sales since the beginning of the records were realized.
Much of this sale involved people moving out of cities, suburbs and the countryside, where houses offered more space. Unfortunately, this is bad news for sustainability. More domestic space per person can increase energy consumption, and suburban households usually have a higher carbon footprint. Even people who may have moved to the countryside more often to work from home may end up emitting more carbon per trip due to less frequent but longer trips.
The duplication of equipment and the simultaneous need for heating and lighting in offices and homes resulting from workers dividing time between the two is a particularly unsustainable arrangement.
Although some jobs allowed employees to take their office settings home during the first lock, difficulties in obtaining a webcam and long waiting times for office equipment showed that most failed to adequately reallocate resources or provide support to workers. Companies that are currently downsizing their offices could offer discounts on spare items like Hootsuite. Or they could reject the hybrid model and only encourage work at home or in the office.
Emigration from cities and smaller accommodation was probably intensified by the holiday of the British government, which paid customs duties. The decision to temporarily increase the threshold at which this property tax was introduced is responsible for causing the madness of the purchase. Housing policies are also climate policies, and the British government, as a self-proclaimed climate leader and host of the UN climate talks in 2021, should be more sensitive to the implications of all policies on climate change.
A hybrid model of operation is just emerging, so it can be made more sustainable. This means appropriate policies to support people moving out of cities and moving through flexible work arrangements.
Amazon is postponing its return to office until January due to COVID
Provided by The Conversation
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Citation: Hybrid work boosts demand for bigger technology and bigger homes, and both are bad news for the planet (2021, October 7) downloaded on October 7, 2021 from https://phis.org/nevs/2021-10-hibrid-fueling – demand-technology-higher.html
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