• International Workplace
  • 20 May 2020

Lockdown creates radical shift in mindset on environmental issues

Almost two-thirds of workers (64%) have evaluated their environmental impact during the coronavirus pandemic, and the majority (53%) are seeking permanent changes to their working week once lockdown restrictions ease, according to a survey released by Hitachi Capital UK.

The new research has established the enforced lockdown for many Britons has altered their outlook for the long-term future. A sizeable 40% of workers are now considering greener commuting alternatives post-lockdown, with over a quarter (26%) now more likely to buy an electric car than they were before the pandemic.   

The study of over 1,800 UK adults, illustrating a wider evaluation of day-to-day working life during lockdown, also found that 41% cite the time and cost savings of ditching the daily commute as the main reason homeworking is a more attractive proposition. The flexibility of working from home is identified as the most significant benefit by 13% of respondents.     

However, working from home comes with its own set of challenges, with 38% stating they will appreciate their work colleagues more in the office when the lockdown ends. Northern England (43%) has the highest proportion of workers stating they will appreciate their work colleagues more in the office when the lockdown restrictions are eased, followed by workers in Scotland (39%) and the Midlands (35%). 

More than one in four (26%) admit finding it hard to stay motivated working from the confines of their own home and almost one in five (19%) also miss face to face time with colleagues, despite regular video calls.    

The greatest clamour for homeworking beyond the lockdown comes from recruitment and HR professionals (69%), followed by IT workers (63%) and legal professionals (61%).

In contrast, those working in business and consulting (51%), marketing (50%) and education (46%) are most eager to return to their regular place of work alongside their colleagues when the restrictions end.

Robert Gordon, CEO of Hitachi Capital UK, said:

“Our research shows that people are not only re-evaluating how they work, but also the impact they have on the environment and what long-term changes they are prepared to make.

“The lockdown has created a positive and fundamental shift in attitude when it comes to the environment, with the majority of people placing more importance on reducing their carbon footprint than ever before. Over a quarter of commuters would now actively switch to an electric vehicle, a significant shift pre the lockdown. Even more want more agile working, suggesting a reduction in commuting and travel for work, which again will impact on the environmental economy.

“This changing landscape also provides employers with an opportunity to re-evaluate their business models. Remote working has forced everyone to rethink their working practices and opens up new opportunities for attracting and retaining the best talent from a wider pool. It could also lead to operational savings, using agile working to offset the cost of expanding office premises.”

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