World Environment Day (WED) is on 5 June and is a good opportunity for South African companies to consider smarter ways of working that save money and protect the environment.

Joanne Bushell, Regus vice-president for Africa & Middle East, says businesses that wise up and embrace the flexible working solutions available to them see the benefits in savings on property costs, reduced overheads, better staff morale and higher productivity.
“Alternative ways of working also give a green light to green savings,” she says. “Flexible working would not only mitigate the effect of continually rising fuel costs in South Africa (and the estimated 5% rise in costs of driving through Johannesburg’s new tollgate system), but also lead to lower carbon emissions as traffic eases.”
All these business benefits – and the environmental gains they trigger – are outlined in various surveys conducted by Regus, including: the Flexible Working Report, Business Confidence Index (BCI), and VW-Measuring the Benefits of Agility @ Work.
The research, Agility @ Work: adopting the corporate six pack, identified six external forces – people, culture, technology, sustainability, transport and property – compelling organisations to reshape. Sustainability was singled out as the most important, with everyone keen to be good corporate citizens. Companies can make steps towards sustainability by rethinking how they use real estate. A 30% reduction of floor space creates 30% fewer carbon emissions.
The signs are that companies are getting the message. The Regus Business Confidence Index tracked the opinions of 17 000 companies worldwide and 72% of South Africa’s firms expected to freeze or cut property spending – indicating they are adopting lower-cost working practices.
Alongside this is evidence of the rising number of skilled people working from home. Over four-fifths of companies in South Africa are now offering staff flexible working, reveals the Flexible Working Report, reducing the environmental toll of commuting.
ICT contributed 7% of South Africa’s GDP in 2009. With more people connecting to their offices through smart phones, laptops, desktop computers, internet and videoconferencing, new ways of measuring their performance will have to be found.