UK workers shun business trips due to environmental concerns

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Almost half of UK workers do not want to go on business trips due to their concern that it has a negative impact on the environment.

Research from O2 Business found that 48 per cent of employees do not desire to go on business trips as they are fearful it will have negative consequences on the environment.

More than a third (39 per cent) want to actively scale back non-essential business trips and for businesses to reconsider the future of work-related travel in a post-lockdown world.

It has been calculated that if all UK domestic business trips (excluding air travel) taken by full-time workers was reduced by just 10 per cent, it would lead to one less megatonne of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere every year.

Working life pre-lockdown saw one-fifth of workers take at least one business trip a week, one-tenth travelling abroad at least every month as well as the average 31-minute commute to work. Also, 46 per cent of employees are concerned about the environmental damage of travelling to and from work, which increases to more than 50 per cent amongst Gen Y and Gen Z workers.

If all full-time employee works remotely for just one day a week, they would see on average a reduction of 1,526 miles travelled each year and save £449.70 on travel costs, as well as a decrease of 7.1 megatonnes of Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas emissions.

Katy Liddell, director of business sales & service at O2, said:

For all the obvious negatives, lockdown has confirmed that with the right technology in place, flexible working works. It has become increasingly clear that many businesses can operate without the need for continuous, and often unnecessary travel, with a positive impact on the environment. Connectivity should be at the heart of our economy as we rebuild from the pandemic – keeping businesses connected and helping to reduce our negative impact on the environment.

Keith Budden, head of business development at Cenex, the UK’s non-profit Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon Technologies, said:

Transport accounts for just over a quarter (26 per cent) of UK emissions. 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 that business travel should and could be eliminated entirely – 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; using trains, public transport and electric cars. Now is the time for UK business to listen and take action.

In order to gather these results, O2 Business, in partnership with ICM, YouGov and Cenex conducted an online travel survey of 2,000 UK workers.

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