O2 Flexible Working Experiment Saves 12 Tonnes of CO2
Mobile phone operator O2 claims to have saved the equivalent of 12 tonnes of carbon emissions in the biggest one-day flexible working initiative to ever have been undertaken by the company.
The initiative, which forms part of the Telefonica-owned company's newly launched 'Think Big' sustainability plan, asked the entire workforce in the company's head office in Slough to work away from the office for the day on February 8 2012. As well as cutting emissions, the experiment led to a drop in electricity consumption and water, and a saving of 2,000 hours of travel time, according to O2. With only 125 mission critical people needing to work from the office that day, only 109 cars entered the car park, against 1,100 on an average day. Productivity also appeared to improve, with more than 50 per cent of staff spending the time saved commuting working and more than a quarter claiming to be more productive at home than in the office.
More than 2,500 staff – a quarter of the company's entire workforce – participated in the experiment, which aimed to test O2’s contingency plans to manage expected travel disruption and delays during the London 2012 Olympic Games. O2 said the experiment proved the advantages of working flexibility not only to its own employees, but its business customers and other UK organisations.
"The experiment was an astonishing success – not just in terms of the productivity of the workforce, but as a demonstration of the power of flexible working to forge lasting operational, cultural and environmental change within modern organisations,"Ben Dowd, Business director for O2 said.
To ensure the network was able to support a significant increase in the number of virtual workers, O2 upgraded its Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology ahead of time, as well, as its network infrastructure. The company also automatically redirected traffic between servers in the north and south of its offices to ensure that the load was spread efficiently and that there were no local bottlenecks. The result was that everyone who needed to get online and communicate was able to do so, O2 said.
On the sustainability front, results from the experiment showed that O2’s electricity consumption decreased by 12 per cent, while water usage fell by 53 per cent. Approximately 12.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent was saved on the day, the equivalent of driving 42,000 miles in a medium-sized diesel car. Paradoxically, though, gas usage in the building increased slightly – probably due to the loss of body heat in the building, O2 said.
According to the findings, 88 per cent of staff said they were at least as productive as on a normal day at the office, with 36 per cent claiming to have been more productive. The majority - 52 per cent – spent their commuting time working.
"The success of O2’s experiment extends much further than just allowing some of the workforce to stay at home and work," commented Dowd. "It proves that with the right thinking and planning, even the largest organisations can protect themselves from the most severe disruptions to their business. It shows that given the right preparation and communication, conservative presenteeism-based attitudes to work can be changed, with great benefits for both managers and staff. It shows that businesses really can make significant and lasting reductions to their environmental impact, in a multitude of areas. Above all though, it demonstrates that the principles underlying flexible working really are the principles that will build the future of work, and determine the way that people, technology and buildings interact in the decades and centuries ahead."
O2’s Think Big sustainability plan was launched a day ahead of the flexible work trial. It commits the mobile phone company to 40 separate social and environmental pledges over the next three years, including delivering CO2 reductions for its customers that are 10 times greater than its own footprint.
Source: Green Business News
April 12, 2012
The Workplace Travel Plan Company Ltd is a Strategic Partner of Work Wise UK North East.
“The Workplace Travel Plan Company worked very closely with us to ensure the Travel Plan was completed on time so our expansion plans could go ahead”
Michele Watson, Management Administrator and PA, Express Engineering