A massive flexible working trial by the telecom company O2 cut both water and business electricity use.
The Olympics threaten to disrupt businesses across the capital during the summer. There are concerns that commuting times will increase. However a flexible working experiment carried out by O2 may be the answer to the expected chaos and change the way businesses work in the future. The experiment saw business electricity and water use drop.
The experiment lasted just a day in February. Over 2,500 employees worked remotely with just 125 employees remaining in the Slough headquarters. The experiment didn’t just save over 2,000 hours of commuting time but water use in the company fell by over 50% and business electricity consumption dropped by 12%.
At a time of rising business electricity prices and increases in other business utility bills these kinds of savings can make a huge difference for any business. It can also make a difference to employees as the cost of travelling to work increases.
O2 also saved around 12.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of driving a diesel car 42,000 miles. The company however did find that gas use increased. They put this down to the loss of body heat and therefore the heating had to be turned up.
Interestingly, over 33% of employees said they were more productive and those not commuting were able to spend more time with their families.
O2 has pledged to save over 500,000 miles of travel and over 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over three years and plans to do this by helping employees to work more flexibly.
O2 says this experiment may help other companies to improve productivity during the Olympics. In fact, Ben Dowd, business director for O2, said it may change the way business is carried out in the future. He said “The success of the experiment… shows that businesses really can make significant and lasting reductions to their environmental impact, in a multitude of areas”.
He added, “Above all though, it demonstrates that the principles underlying flexible working really are the principles that will build the future of work, and determine the way that people, technology and buildings interact in the decades and centuries ahead”.
However, it has to be remembered that helping people to work remotely should not simply mean they are using more energy while working from home. Remote working should be carefully managed to ensure this is not the case.