Eco-conscious workers opting for less business travel

Nearly half of UK workers (48%) want to reduce their business travel due to environmental concerns.

According to research from O2 Business’s Flexible Future of Work report, 46% of UK workers were also concerned about the environmental impact of their daily commute.

If the number of UK domestic business trips, excluding air travel, taken by full-time workers was reduced by just 10%, a megatonne of greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced every year.

This is the equivalent of all home, business and road transport emissions in the London Borough of Bromley.

UK businesses have already begun to embrace the technologies needed to reduce business travel during the coronavirus pandemic such as video conference meetings and webinars in the place of events.

Transport currently accounts for just over a quarter (26%) of UK emissions.

Keith Budden, head of business development at Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon Technologies (Cenex), said: “The most effective way that our nation can lower the production of these harmful emissions is to reduce carbon intensive travel, and our calculations have shown the massive environmental and economic benefits of reducing business journeys.

“This isn’t to say business travel should and could be eliminated entirely but there just needs to be a better balance. When business travel is required, it is important to do so in the most environmentally friendly way by using trains, public transport and electric cars. Now is the time for UK business to listen and take action.”

Over three quarters (77%) also said it was very important that a business is environmentally conscious when they are considering a new role.

This figure rose to 82% of the Gen Z workforce (18- to- 23 year olds), demonstrating how UK businesses which prioritise and care for the environment are more likely to attract the next generation of talent.

Andie Stephens, associate director at Carbon Trust, said: “This latest research shows there is an increasing appetite to adopt new ways of working, including more opportunities for flexible working which have the potential to help many companies lower their carbon impact.

“Re-imagining working patterns and behaviour in the coming months and years provides a real opportunity to accelerate decarbonisation and promote green growth.”

ICM Unlimited completed a survey of 2,019 working adults, aged 16 and over, covering all UK nations and regions, between 20- to- 27 March 2020 (just as the UK moved into lockdown).

A separate survey was commissioned with YouGov with a total sample size of 4509 adults, of whom 2394 were workers.

Further reading:

How can businesses become more sustainable?

Employers’ views on climate change biggest concern for young workers

Staff think employers aren't doing enough on climate change

Pensions – why sustainability should be your priority