Flexible workspaces are increasingly located in smaller towns and suburban areas

As people commute closer to home their carbon footprint falls significantly

By 2029, flexible spaces will reduce carbon emissions globally by the equivalent of 1,280 flights between London to New York every year 

There’s a new and unlikely weapon in the fight against climate change – flexible working. As co-working spaces are increasingly located outside of major city centres and business districts, lengthy and environmentally damaging commutes are becoming a thing of the past. 

In fact, as the growth of flexi-working explodes in areas outside of major cities, new research reveals that, by 2029, ‘outer city’ office spaces will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1,280 transatlantic flights between London and New York each year. That’s 2,560,000 metric tonnes of carbon stopped from entering the atmosphere annually, just by working nearer to home.

The Suburban Economic Study, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independent economists, projected the environmental benefits of locating flexible workspaces in smaller towns, cities and suburban areas between now and 2029.

In South Africa, despite recent efforts, emission reductions from the transport sector are limited: The transport sector is the dominant energy- consuming sector in most cities across the country. Despite several important public transport interventions, urban transport is still characterised by inefficient, congested roads and a dependence on private vehicles. While a few urban areas have progressive spatial planning frameworks, the urban form has not changed significantly

The 18 major metropolitan areas and secondary cities in South Africa consume alone account for 46% of national electricity consumption and 52% of the country’s petrol and diesel consumption, and 32% of country’s energy related GHG emissions.

A 2017 draft Green Transport Strategy up to 2050 in South Africa, warns that the country’s transport emissions are set to roughly triple by 2050 and it does not set any reduction targets.

What a difference a centre makes

By allowing people to work closer to home, a local office space will save workers an average of 7,416 hours per year in reduced commuting times, equating to a reduction of 118 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per centre, per year. 

In the USA, where commuting times can be among the longest, this reduction increases to 208 metric tonnes per year. In emerging markets, the carbon saving may be smaller, such as in India, which will see a reduction of 54 metric tonnes of carbon emissions per year. However, its polluted cities, like Delhi where pollution routinely reaches hazardous levels, could still see a significant impact on air quality.

The report also revealed those moving from flexible working at home to a co-working space will be doing their bit for the environment. That’s because it’s likely to be more energy efficient to heat and light a shared space than a home for one, solitary worker.

Joanne Bushell, Managing Director South Africa and VP Sales Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and Baltic States, says “Commuting can be uncomfortable, unfriendly, and incredibly time-consuming. It is also a huge source of global pollution. In an age where every business and individual have a responsibility for their environmental impact in the world, commuting into major cities looks increasingly old fashioned.”

“Over the next decade we expect to open many more locations in smaller towns, cities and suburban areas. Our vision is that, in the near future, there will be a professional workspace available on every corner ending the idea of commuting for good. This will benefit our personal health, as well as that of our planet.” Bushell adds.

Business benefits

The rise in local working is largely driven by big companies adopting flexible working policies, moving away from relying on a single, central HQ and instead basing employees outside of the major metropolitan hubs in flex spaces.

The study also revealed the economic benefits of these suburban spaces and found the ‘flex economy’ could contribute more than $254 billion to global economies in the next decade. It found that on average 121 new jobs are created in communities that contain a flexible workspace, with an extra $9.63 million going directly into the local economy. 

To download the full report visit www.regus.co.za/suburban-economic-survey

First established in 1989, Regus is one of the original pioneers of flexible workspace, helping businesses choose a way of working that’s best for their people. 

Now spanning the globe with over 3,000 locations, Regus’ global network of bright, inspiring workspaces allows modern businesses to work where, when and how they want, in a more agile way. Regus provides businesses with the flexibility to grow without risk or commitment, and attracts a diverse network of 2.5 million people, from entrepreneurs and SMEs to multi-national blue-chip companies.

Regus is an operating brand of IWG plc: the holding group for a number of leading workspace providers. 


 Contact details:

Gidgette Osborne

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 082 574 2308

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