Employees of Belgian insurer Ethias, based in Wallonia’s Liège region, spend Monday working from the comfort of their homes. More than just a shift towards a greater degree of work flexibility, the company says that this is an effective energy saving measure.
In an interview with RTL Info, Ethias stated that by staying away from the office on Monday, the company saves 2.8 tonnes of CO2 per week, amounting to a total saving of 145 tonnes a year out of a total 3,800, or the equivalent of the emissions of more than 31 petrol-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.
While the 1,500 employees are away from the office, the company cuts all power, including to the lighting and computers, and even the elevators are deactivated. Access to the office is then only accessible by staircases lit by lights on a sensor.
Dual benefits: less environmental impact, fuel savings for workers
Julien Balistreri, human resources director at Ethias, states that the motivation for the teleworking switch on Mondays is two-fold: “It is, on the one hand, our ambition to reduce our carbon footprint, and on the other hand, the increase in fuel prices that impacts employees.”
High fuel prices, which jumped to nearly €2 per litre in May, are eating into the paychecks of many commuters who drive into work. Teleworking can help ease the burden on commuters struggling to afford the cost of fuel.
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While some studies state that teleconferencing is less productive than face-to-face meetings, Ethias says that the switch to remote working has little impact on productivity.
“Knowing that everyone is at home after all, it’s not so bad from an organisational point of view for meetings. On Mondays, we know that it’s automatically a remote meeting and we don't go looking for each other in the building or elsewhere,” an employee of the company said.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting could save over $700 billion a year in the U.S alone, as well as reduce greenhouse gases by 54 million tonnes- the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road for a year.