Achieving a zero carbon world, starting right here at home with the Zero Carbon Britain initiative, requires some pretty fundamental changes to the way we live our lives. The ZCB report gives some brilliant insights into this, and as part of the project CAT asked for additional papers which would neatly complement the main report.
As someone who is passionate about the environment, because I love the natural world and all its wonders, I can see a direct link between my line of work – communications – and fundamental changes which can lead directly to significant reductions in our energy use as a nation.
Whilst the Government continues to expound the benefits of HS2 – a rail link which could prove significantly more environmentally sound than solo commutes over increasingly long distances, yet which relies for its business case upon passenger numbers and expectations of regional economic growth – I think that as a society we’re moving in a direction which will make regular business travel far less necessary for a large number of us.
I have worked on voice and ‘unified communications’ solutions for nearly 20 years, and in that time there has been a slow shift from office-based working to remote working. Businesses increasingly are happy to accept employees working from home, coffee shops, or, of course, whilst sitting on a train, because in return they get access, regardless of geography, to the employees who can perform best for them. Employees who can mix work and personal time flexibly are happier and more likely to stay with their employer in an increasingly mobile job market. Indications are that they are also more productive: certainly any amount of time reclaimed from the daily commute can always be put to better use. Not all workers can work remotely, but huge numbers of us are now office workers who, with the benefit of a good communications system, can work just as effectively at home – or elsewhere – as in the office. Gone are the days when “out of the office” meant “out of contact”: from home, given the right tools, we can talk to, see, and collaborate with our colleagues wherever they themselves may be.
So what if we went a step further: what if our government took definite steps to vastly increase home working in order to reduce the need for office space and, consequently, reduce travel, and hence congestion? How would a reduced need for office space and reduced commuting contribute to a better world for our children?
This is the topic that I explore in my paper, ‘ZCB and the 21st Century Office Worker‘.
Mike Barnes is a consultant specialising in business communications. His passion for using modern communications technology to oil the cogs of the workplace, driving information both within and between organisations, led to the publication of the book “An Infinite Number of Monkeys: A Guide to Effective Business Communications”. You can find him online at www.mike-barnes.co.uk.