New research reveals the impact the energy crisis is having on the UK workforce, as 70% of hybrid workers admit they’re concerned about the cost of working from home as bills skyrocket.
The survey of 2,000 UK workers by OnePoll, on behalf of UK smart building technology firm Infogrid, finds that worries over energy usage don’t just start and stop at home. There is also greater scrutiny from the workforce, especially younger generations, on how employers manage energy during this crisis, and an expectation that they should be actively driving change for the future.
More than half (55%) of the UK’s hybrid workers are concerned about how energy efficient their workplace is, so much so that they want to take measures into their own hands to cap usage. Over a quarter (27%) say they would take personal action including turning off lights and monitor screens to reduce the amount of energy wasted in their buildings. Those aged 18-34 feel the most passionate about how much energy their workplace is using, with these figures rising five points to 62% and 32%, respectively.
Data from Infogrid’s own AI-powered platform, which uses sensors to capture and analyse when people are in the workplace, shines a light on the trends that businesses will need to react to, as a result of these energy efficiency concerns. In the UK, for example, recent workplace occupancy on Thursdays is double that of Fridays.
However, looking at this year over year, there is a steady decline, with average occupancy on a Thursday trending down by 80% compared to last September. Employees are also turning their backs on starting the week in their workplace, with Tuesday now the most popular day to be in and seeing 59% more occupancy compared to Monday.
OnePoll’s survey suggests that current workplace occupancy trends could change further as we head towards Christmas and colder months, with nearly one in four (23%) hybrid workers planning to increase the frequency they head into their workplaces this winter to keep personal costs low, rising to 30% amongst 18-34 year olds.
Commenting on the findings, Ross Sheil, Senior Vice President at Infogrid, said: “If you want to tackle a problem, you must first understand what you’re dealing with. Both the OnePoll findings and our own data show us that external factors, such as the energy crisis and its effect on people’s personal financial situations, have a very real impact on how employees use their workspaces. Energy prices skyrocketing will mean that some of us will spend more time in the workplace to keep costs at home down, while others will work from home more often, because commuting costs are also on the rise. And with more than half of employees showing concern about the efficiency and sustainability of their work environments, it’s never been more important to have real-time insight into how spaces are being used, in order to tailor energy management accordingly.”
Employees call on workplaces to be more sustainable – younger generations, even more so
Indeed, the OnePoll research reveals that employees have high expectations when it comes to the sustainability efforts and credentials of their employers. Two in five (41%) don’t believe their companies are doing enough when it comes to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of buildings, even if they are taking action. This rises to 50% amongst younger generations (18-34).
When asked about whose job it is to address these environmental concerns, 25% of UK workers believe those who manage or run a building are primarily responsible for helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by them, ranking above others such as governments (20%), building landlords (20%) and building occupants (15%). One in four hybrid workers would like to see their company invest in more digital tools and technology to help make their workplace more energy efficient, increasing again amongst 18-34 year olds to 29%.
Sheil continued: “The current energy crisis should be a catalyst for businesses to strive towards a more sustainable future and protect the planet, because employees expect it, and also, for their own financial performance to prevent money being poured down the drain from poor energy efficiency. We can’t tear down and rebuild – the greenest building is an existing building. Instead we need to retrofit our workplaces with smart technology, such as IoT, AI and insights drawn from real-time data to revolutionise the way we manage energy. Now is the time for building managers to drive long-lasting change through all that digital has to offer.”
Justine Bornstein, Research Director for Smart Building Technologies at analyst house Verdantix, added: “Investment into energy efficiency has already been gaining momentum thanks to the EU’s Clean Energy for all Europeans Package in 2018. The current energy crisis has certainly catapulted it back into mainstream conversation, and we expect this to continue well into the future, with digital technologies a key enabler. These are growing by more than 33% per year, according to the IEA, and soon the stock of connected appliances, devices and sensors will overtake the number of people on the planet. The energy efficiency sector is experiencing a major growth period that shows little signs of slowing down.”