Back to the Future – Digital Transformation empowers homeworking and carbon reduction

Weavers Cottages, © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton

Home-working was once common – where I live there are still many weavers’ cottages that provided living space for their families and working space for them to earn their living. Then the factories came along and people had to go to them to work. That stayed the same for offices, but digital transformation is changing that. Many entrepreneurs now work from home over the internet – time to consider the advantages if many office employees do the same.

The recent Corona virus epidemic is creating major industrial disruption in China, and fears of it spreading are real. The NHS have offered the same advice as for any other airborne virus, but we all know that colds and flu spread far and wide at work because people don’t feel able to stay at home and not share their illness.

Home-working reduces our exposure to infections, and reduces our chances of passing on our own. Parents know the horror of the constant bugs we picked up when our children went to school!

Commuting to work also consumes our time – in many cases more than an an hour each way, and costs us a fortune in fares or fuel and car parking. What would you do with 2 hours more per day, and extra money in your pocket? Many homeworkers do MORE WORK with that time!

If you’re not commuting, you are reducing your #CarbonFootprint – last year the UK Government declared a #ClimateEmergency and once the Brexit negotiations are complete, dealing with climate change will climb back up the agenda.

Ah, but then we’ll need to heat our homes during the day as well. OK, but if the office is empty, there is no need to heat or light it, so that carbon footprint is reduced (and your home doesn’t cool down while your’re at work so you’ll stay warmer in the evening).

Home-working opens employment to many unable to work due to financial, family care, disability and other constraints, allowing people on benefits to contribute and earn their living.

Service and retail staff need to “be there”, and some people can only work with equipment in a factory (though automation is allowing progressively more remote control). Some people are only motivated to work when surrounded by others, others have so little room they couldn’t work from home, but these are almost certainly the minority.

If 50% of people could work from home 90% of the time, that would be a 45% reduction in commuting!

The technology as all there to allow many office workers to work from home over the internet – the main brake on home-working’s adoption is cultural. We need to move from “payment for attendance” to “payment for results” to deliver home-working as a normal option, and:

  • Reduce carbon footprint and pollution from commuting
  • Reduce infection rates
  • Reduce time wasted while commuting
  • Increase diversity in the workforce
  • Offer greater attraction for Millennials

Social media has proven that people don’t need to see each other to interact – let’s harness that for business and environmental benefits!