Almost one in five commutes by car could be avoided if employees continue to work remotely, according to a new survey by the Business Clean Air Taskforce (BCAT).
The survey of 2,000 respondents was commissioned by charities Global Action Plan and Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Charity on behalf of BCAT.
BCAT is made up of businesses like Philips, BP Chargemaster, ENGIE and Uber.
The survey results show that 87% of those currently working from home would like to continue to do so to some degree - which means that post-lockdown the UK could have 17 million regular remote workers versus just 10.8m pre-lockdown.
Of the 19.5 million who have been working from home during lockdown, 41% were previously not allowed to do so.
While remote working is not suitable for all professions and is not welcomed by everyone, allowing employees the option to work from home when it suits them can improve wellbeing, with 54% of lockdown homeworkers saying they are less stressed and 65% are happier not to deal with rush hour.
To avoid a surge in air pollution and the health issues it causes, Global Action Plan is encouraging businesses to embrace remote working fully for all employees it suits, as workplaces begin to open.
The survey also finds that 72% of the public believe clean air is more important now because coronavirus can affect people’s lungs. A further 74% of the public want businesses to do more to improve air quality in their recovery.
Analysis of Breath London Data by Environmental Defense Fund Europe shows that air pollution significantly decreased after confinement measures went into place, with notable reductions during weekday commuting hours.
Across Greater London, NO2 pollution decreased around 25% during the morning commute (8-11am) and 34% in the evening (5-8pm).
Chris Large, partner at Global Action Plan, said: “We should take this opportunity to minimise pollution and traffic, free employees from unnecessary travel and fortify business against future disruptions.”