Hybrid work: an essential part of your ESG strategy

As recently laid out in the Hybrid Manifesto, hybrid work cultures devote themselves to the long-term health of three areas: People, Profits and the Planet.

Two of these areas are perhaps the most familiar to you and your business. You may already have seen how hybrid work boosts the productivity of your workforce in difficult times, and how their flourishing has a direct impact on the bottom line of your business.

But what about the third area: the planet? With so much attention on the ESG efforts of companies in 2023, how can hybrid contribute to you and your company’s commitment to sustainability and social causes?

It’s a question most recently posed by Amazon employees — in response to CEO Andy Jassy’s strict return-to-office mandate.

In this article, we’ll examine why hybrid working must be factored into your ESG plans for the year ahead.

What is ESG?

ESG is an abbreviation for an organization’s policies in matters relating to the environment (E), social issues (S) and governance (G).

Investors and consumers are increasingly aware of ESG practices within organizations, and it’s starting to play a significant role in investment decisions and consumer behavior alike.

Companies are therefore constantly looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, champion social causes and exemplify proper governance.

The environmental impact of hybrid work

The theme of 2023 is optimization.

Staring down the barrel of the harshest financial conditions since 2008, companies are looking for ways to be significantly more efficient in the next 12 months and beyond.

Hybrid work presents a solution with immediate benefits. Companies who manage the transition to Hybrid find themselves saving on their real estate bill, reinvigorating company culture and boosting employee performance.

But beyond these immediate benefits, there are also some powerful implications for a company’s relationship with the environment.

Intentional commuting

A recent study found that the amount of nitrogen dioxide emissions – the main pollutant caused by traffic – decreases by 10% when switching to remote work for four days a week.

But remote work also comes with its caveats. Video calls take a big environmental toll, and homes are known to be less energy efficient than offices.

So how do we reckon with the fact that both office and home work come at some environmental cost?

We become more strategic about when we go into the office, and what we do when we’re there. Hybrid workers go into the office less frequently — but with greater intention. Batching meetings into office days means greatly reducing the need for video calls — while remote work is ring-fenced off as time for deep focus and flow.

This intentional approach to commuting in a Hybrid system is the first step to optimizing the reduction of our environmental impact.

“Kadence has been a big contributor to rolling out our Work Your Way model. By knowing who is in the workplace on a given day, our people can decide if a commute is worth it!”

Senior Director, Workplace Experience & Sustainability, Softchoice

Smart office use

The transition to hybrid work can also have profound implications on a company’s relationship with their office.

Implementing intelligent hybrid work software helps business leaders get to grips with the actual use of their workspace. Who is coming in on what days? How many desks go completely unused? Is our office the right size?

The conclusion for many companies is twofold: we need to scale down our workplace, and be smarter about how we use it.

And the impact is huge. Not only do companies save on their monthly real estate bill, they also see an instant reduction in their office’s carbon footprint:

  • A smaller office means lower building emissions and energy usage.
  • Transparency over office attendance means the energy usage can be much more efficient. Hot desks can be grouped into energy-saving zones and inactive desks can simply be switched off until their next use.

As regulations like SFDR drive companies to measure more aspects of their carbon footprint — including both direct and indirect sources of emissions (as well as indirect emissions it is responsible for) it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to find viable ways to reduce all three.

Hybrid working tools like Kadence can not only help drive down emissions, they can actually help companies quantify and track the real impact their downsizing and optimization is having.

With Kadence, we’re able to get a clear overview of how much of our workplace is actually being used and the future demand for it.

This helps us make decisions on how spaces can potentially be reconfigured or repurposed, and it means that certain under-utilized areas can be ‘turned down’ intermittently to conserve energy on lighter load days.

One of the biggest environmental factors that are offset by hybrid work models is the emissions generate from commuting – these reductions are significant!”

Senior Director, Workplace Experience & Sustainability, Softchoice

Hybrid and social change

The social impact of Hybrid work is no less exciting or significant than its environmental counterpart.

There are three main areas in which we’re beginning to see this impact:

1. Championing work-life balance

By providing a structure for work that happens both in person and remotely, hybrid work is leading the charge towards a world where modern workers can guarantee their work-life balance like never before.

The time gained from stripping out unnecessary commuting means modern workers have capacity for their personal obligations and broader life goals, whether those be fitness, day-care, self-development or side projects.

2. Ensuring mental health of employees

The impact of fully remote work on mental health is only just being uncovered. Loneliness and anxiety are burgeoning because of the unprecedented amount of time workers are now spending alone.

Hybrid work, with its deeply rooted focus on community and culture, aims to provide a framework whereby employees rediscover the benefits of in-person work and collaboration — at the same time as helping employees find the right work-life balance.

As humans, we derive a lot of our life satisfaction from personal connection — and Hybrid guarantees this.

3. Attracting wider pool of talent

Diversity is a crucial component of a company’s ESG outlook. By supporting flexible work, Hybrid organizations immediately widen the pool of talent that will consider applying for a job with them.

The inherent inclusivity and flexibility of Hybrid work is foundational to promoting diversity.

Which way is forward?

We’ve seen the many ways in which choosing hybrid can positively impact your ESG mission — from converting your office into an efficiently managed energy hub to championing work-life balance and ushering in diversity.

But how do you begin the transition to hybrid working? It’s a daunting task — whether that’s because you’ve committed to a fully remote system or stuck with your guns and continued to enforce office-only work.

At Kadence, we’ve helped hundreds of companies on this path — and we’d love to help you too.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch or book a demo with us today, and we’ll work together to find the right way forward.