British businesses could save as much as 50% on their energy consumption by adopting techniques like hotdesking, remote working and virtual offices in London.

Research published in the May 2022 edition of the journal Energy Research & Social Science shows how hybrid working models that combine remote and office-based working have emerged since the COVID-19 lockdowns came to an end.

While this has made office occupancy levels less predictable, it has also made them more dynamic, giving agile businesses an opportunity to benefit from the increased flexibility of the post-pandemic workforce.

In the paper, the team from Loughborough University write: “It is widely known that we are currently experiencing a highly transient period in terms of how we define work.

“Office work is progressively becoming more collaborative, modern workforce more mobile, and office occupancy more dynamic.”

Energy use in offices in London

The researchers look particularly at the carbon footprint of offices in London. With 300 million square feet of office floor space, the capital emits about three million tonnes of CO2 from its office buildings each year.

Offices rank in the UK’s top five building types for energy consumption, taking about 27.6 GWh each year from the country’s electricity supplies and representing two thirds of all non-domestic electricity use, they claim.

This consumption has increased in recent years, as office buildings are utilised more, for longer hours, and use more powered technologies like ICT equipment and air conditioning.

Open-plan offices can create particular problems if, for example, nobody takes responsibility for turning out the lights – and as much as 56% of office power is consumed outside of working hours.

Energy efficient offices in London

Setting aside the potential energy savings that could be achieved by turning equipment off overnight, the researchers look at how hybrid working could save energy and reduce CO2 emissions.

For example, if the global workforce were, on average, to work from home one day a week, they suggest this could lead to:

  • – 1% less oil consumed globally each year
  • – 24 million tonnes less CO2 output each year

This is despite the increase in domestic energy use due to people being at home in working hours, which would be more than offset by the lower consumption and emissions in workplaces.

Making London offices more energy efficient

Improving the energy efficiency of London offices doesn’t just mean moving workers to a home-based or hybrid model. The researchers also suggest using booking technology to “support hybrid working by synchronising the use of space by employees”.

This is already taking place in present-day practices like hotdesking and booking meeting rooms in London office buildings as and when they are needed, which ensures greater utilisation of the space by multiple tenants.

The researchers conclude: “When flexibility is incorporated in the use of workspace and, most importantly, in the operation of building services, significant energy savings can be achieved – close to 50% in comparison to the pre-COVID-19 situation.”

For more information about how the Serviced Office Company can help you find serviced office space in London, or to enquire about our London hotdesking facilities and virtual office service, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.

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