With environmental concerns high on everyone’s agenda, the World Economic Forum has recently highlighted the role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have in creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.
This influence is in part due to the vast and expanding array of SMEs worldwide, which comprise 90% of all businesses and generate two-thirds of global employment. Given this, any action taken by SMEs will have an impact on the economy, on people’s lives, and the planet.
However, these businesses can face challenges due to limited resources and expertise in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects. In SMEs, individuals often handle multiple roles, making it challenging to have a dedicated person leading sustainability efforts. Therefore, integrating the principles of sustainability into everyday work becomes imperative.
Embracing the hybrid working model is a practical step that SMEs can take to make a positive impact. As Johan Rockstrom, co-chair of the Earth Commission, said in a major climate analysis published in the journal Science, “Every tenth of a degree counts” in maintaining livable conditions, protecting people, and building a stable society.
Five ways hybrid promotes a more sustainable way of working
Hybrid working – from employee behaviour to workplace design – offers a more sustainable approach to work. In fact, it supports a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Adopted in 2015, the organisation described the goals as “a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and into the future”. This is how hybrid working can realise some aims of that blueprint:
1. Health and wellbeing
Hybrid improves employees’ work-life balance by cutting out long commutes and reducing their daily stress. It gives them more freedom to pick where and how they work best, which most really value. In fact, an IWG survey of 2000 office workers revealed that 88% now consider hybrid working as the top benefit they expect from a new job. What’s more, almost half of the respondents indicated they would only entertain job opportunities if they come with this flexible working arrangement.
2. Gender equality
Flexibility is another key advantage of hybrid working. By offering choices in both where and when work is performed, employees can better manage their family responsibilities alongside their work commitments. This flexibility is especially impactful for women in the workforce. IWG’s Empowering Women in the Hybrid Workplace report revealed that more than half of female workers believe hybrid working has empowered them to apply for a more senior role within their organisation.
3. Economic growth
IWG’s 2022 CFO study found 82% of financial leaders regard hybrid as a more affordable business model than the traditional office-based five-day week. Hybrid saves organisations money which can be channelled elsewhere – for example funding growth initiatives or investing in new products and services. Alongside this opportunity for promoting growth, Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom found hybrid work boosts company performance — increasing productivity by an average of 3-4%.
4. Sustainable cities and communities
Hybrid brings people closer to their communities, enabling them to work and live at the heart of their local area. This not only reduces commuting times but also gives local businesses a boost as employees are more likely to shop and use services nearby. It’s a model that dovetails perfectly with the concept of the 15-Minute City, where essential amenities and workplaces are conveniently within a 15-minute reach of people’s homes.
5. Affordable and clean energy, and climate action
When companies opt for ‘closer to home’ flexspaces, they cut carbon emissions associated with office buildings and employee commuting. This shift towards hybrid work can lead to remarkable environmental benefits — as shown by IWG’s landmark report with Arup, which revealed that urban carbon emissions could be cut by an impressive 70% in the UK and up to 87% in the US through hybrid work. Moreover, hybrid workplaces, often situated in repurposed buildings and incorporating recycled materials, champion sustainability. They have higher occupancy rates than traditional offices and a smaller carbon footprint than new builds. Plus, their efficient use of shared resources like Wi-Fi and printers adds to their energy-saving benefits.
In summary, business leaders have the power to tackle environmental, social and governance challenges head-on by shifting to hybrid. This model is not just an approach to work, but a solution to create a more sustainable future. With Regus’ flexible workspaces, you can implement a hybrid work policy that suits your business’s unique needs, helping you make a tangible impact on your ESG goals. Remember, every small change counts.
Reach out to Regus today to explore how the hybrid model could work for your business and help you play your part in building a more sustainable world.
This article was originally published on regus.com.
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