The case for online working
Scotland’s ambitious climate targets have put pressure on businesses to reduce their emissions and meet their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments.
To address the emissions related to business travel, we’ve teamed up with the Travel Smart, a global campaign led by European transport NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) in calling for a 50% reduction in corporate travel emissions of pre-Covid levels by 2025 or sooner.
Our latest work has consisted of communicating the benefits of remote working and how online tools are a straightforward means of reducing emissions whilst saving businesses money and valuing employee inclusion and well-being.
Watch our video produced in collaboration with Travel Smart and Spanish environmental NGO Ecodes below:
Online working in Scotland
To increase the uptake of remote work in Scotland, and to reduce the need for unsustainable business travel, we are calling for:
The Scottish Government has recognised that online tools are part of the strategy for lowering our collective carbon footprint and reducing congestion. Its 2022 route map for traffic reduction, for instance, explicitly encourages Scots to ‘make use of online options, where appropriate, to reduce the need to travel’.
Moreover, a recent study found that, on average, Scottish employees want to work 2.8 days a week from home — a rise of 254% compared with before the pandemic.
Clearly, there is ambition to expand remote working in Scotland, but how do we achieve this in practice?
Firstly, the correct infrastructure must be in place. In 2017, the Government announced its Reaching 100 (R100) programme which committed to delivering superfast broadband to 100% of premises in Scotland by 2021.
Yet, various delays and changes to the programme’s delivery have meant that the deadline for South and Central regions’ connection has drifted to 2025. Furthermore, information released under freedom of information reveals that infrastructure work in the North, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, will continue for a number of years. These regions are now likely to be fully connected by 2028 — 7 years behind schedule.
To improve zero-carbon connectivity across Scotland and to ensure access to employment through remote working opportunities, we must accelerate the roll out of full-fibre broadband. If Government plans continue to be delayed, regional inequalities will be exacerbated as rural areas continue to miss out on a reliable connection, which the pandemic proved is a necessity rather than a luxury.
In order to tackle emissions from transport — the largest source of national emissions — there must be coordinated action to limit unnecessary commutes to work. The Government must accelerate broadband rollout across all regions with the urgency the climate emergency demands. And, Scottish businesses must embed a sustainability culture which respects and accommodates employees’ decisions to work remotely.
Laura Hyde-White, Policy and Communications Officer