The picture above shows Ireland from two very different perspectives: on the left you can see normal winter commuter traffic near Dublin, on the right the idyllic view we now have from our new home in the Shire, I mean West Cork. Why am I even comparing them?
See, one of the things I advocate for the most is a shift from “standard commuter patterns” (go to work and come back all at the same time and along the same routes) to different strategies: work from home solutions (highly achievable for an inordinate amount of people nowadays), staggered commuting patterns where – based on people’s needs and preferences – the start and end time of your working day can be different from other commuters. That is if you really have to be in an office or a factory.
Take for instance a family with school going kids: mum could go to work early while dad organises the school run and goes to work later. When mum is ready to come home she can pick up the kids at the right time, without having to run or having to use child minding facilities.
Another scenario could see both parents – or maybe just one – work from home and have time to take care of the kids drop off and collection.
Again, starting at staggered times would facilitate the parental duties and a better life/work balance.
We don’t have young kids, ours is a teenager, so most of these issues do not apply to us; nevertheless I would consider a work from home solution.
The effects of this choice multiplied by thousands of workers could drastically reduce pollution and oil products consumption, meaning relevant savings too.
I could for instance get rid of my gas guzzler and replace it with an electric car – ideally a Tesla! – like many of my friends know I would.
A lot of people could get rid of one of the two family cars often present in a drive.
Huge savings just for that reason.
Once the car is not the main means of transportation for a majority of workers, the traffic for the remaining ones that have to go to work would be exponentially reduced, which in turn would mean commuting times would be shorter, public transport could be more efficient, etc. I’m sure you get my drift by now.
The problem is that more often than not when you interview for a job and ask if the company has a work from home policy you expose yourself and you are looked at like you’ve got two heads. I do understand that remote work needs to be planned by an organization and that’s why it always surprises me when even today there is not even a draft policy in place in many companies.
There are exceptions, of course, and some companies make a point of offering work from home opportunities too.
I would like to see remote work becoming more prevalent; I do not mean to completely remove personal interaction or the need to go to the office if we do want to for whatever reason, what I mean is for the option to be there for the taking, within a certain framework of trust and results expected/provided.
Companies that do promote this behaviour should be rewarded by the policy makers.
People that make this choice should be rewarded too.
Let’s save the planet, shall we?!