On 18 March the entire Privilege team, like the majority of the country’s office-based workforce, said goodbye to face-to-face contact with colleagues and took the step to work from home for the foreseeable future.
The coronavirus pandemic is most definitely a crisis, but the steps taken to adapt to the situation are highlighting some positives, both environmentally and personally, and are an opportunity for a fresh start.
The environmental benefits are a direct result of reduced travel, while the personal benefits are coming about as the team adapt to the new working from home lifestyle.
A huge decrease in carbon emissions
Based on average mileage for daily commutes, plus typical mileage for those whose roles require them to travel further afield, we’ve calculated that as a team we’re reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than a tonne each week that we remain in lockdown.
This is a huge saving as a company. One tonne of carbon dioxide alone would fill a cube 8.13 metres high. Check out the image to see this volume illustrated in comparison with semi-detached houses. This is a useful visualisation from Carbon Visuals to show how daily commuting can impact the environment.
Ultimately, saving these emissions is a critical step to reduce climate change. Before Covid-19, domestic transport accounted for 27% of UK GHG emissions. Looking forward, as a country we need to make sure carbon emissions do not rise back to, or worse exceed, pre Covid-19 levels.
Reduced air pollution
Decreased traffic is reducing levels of air pollution in the UK. Early estimates are predicting a decrease between a third to a half in tiny particle pollution and nitrogen dioxide levels. Cleaner air creates a healthier environment to live in, and it would be good to see longer term plans to reduce air pollution and support the development of green communities.
Improvements to quality of life
More time at home means the team are using the time to take control of their wellbeing, focusing on a healthy diet and making sure they’re getting enough exercise. The sunny weather has definitely helped motivate some team members to go out for that long-awaited run!
Sustained colleague relations
Use of video calling technology is enabling the team to keep in touch with each other every day. We’re checking in on each other regularly and there’s more understanding for each other’s pressures, as some juggle schooling their children alongside their work.
Learning for the future
We are learning from the experience every day, both in terms of how flexible working could potentially benefit the team, and the wider implications for the environment we live in, such as reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality.
Our work ultimately aims to enable the creation of circular economies, in which energy from waste provides a solution to avoid sending materials to landfill while generating renewable power. This stint of enforced home working is giving us time to reflect on what more we could be doing to create a working environment in which our lifestyles can reflect this.