- Available in: PDF
- Published: January 1, 2008
Edited by Tim Dwelly and Andy Lake.
This publication follows work that the Smith Institute has undertaken over recent years on the environment and the world of work. It also complements the debates we have held on well-being, new lifestyles, and promoting enterprise. Indeed, the subject of homeworking cuts across a range of policy agendas and is as relevant to the business community as it is to trade unions and the environmentalists. As the authors demonstrate, working from home not only reduces the environmental costs of commuting but also the energy expended in building and fuelling office space. The potential contribution to reducing carbon emissions in this way is significant, and has arguably been overlooked for too long. Over 40% of all UK businesses are now homebased, according to BERR. Yet we are still planning our use of property as if we were still in the industrial age, designing-in unsustainable working practices for decades to come. A fundamental rethink amongst policy makers is necessary, the authors argue, in order to realise the full benefits of a low carbon economy. The case for homeworking goes beyond the proven environmental benefits. There are also other tangible advantages to both employees and employers from working at home. With commutes becoming ever longer and more unpleasant, homeworking offers the opportunity for a much less stressful working experience and a better work-life balance. Individuals can work more flexibly, while cutting out the need to commute regularly gives people more free time. The authors also provide evidence that for businesses there are real savings to be had from reducing the need for valuable office space, as well as higher levels of workforce satisfaction, improved staff retention and reduced absenteeism. The trend is towards more homeworking and greater flexibility, with new technologies allowing individuals to connect their homes to the global marketplace. These changes are transforming society and present new challenges to the way we live and work. This collection of essays examines these challenges up close, and concludes that there are lasting individual and collective benefits to be had by moving to a more environmentally friendly homeworking economy.