A promising scenario

If twenty percent of the Dutch labor force spends one day a week working from home, it would generate some two billion euros a year. If people spend two days a week working from home, the benefits would go up to almost three billion euros. This is what made headlines today in the Netherlands. Newspapers cite research done by consultancy group PWC. As a result, we’ll see a reduction in the number of cars on Dutch roads. About 180.000 cars stay home. It’s an interesting piece of research. Below are some of my thoughts about it.

180.000 cars stay home

When I read this, at first I thought “wow”. That’s an incredible number of cars. According to the article, 1,7 million people working from home equals 180.000 cars less. Suddenly the number of cars sounds a lot less incredible. That’s why I want to know: How did they calculate this? I decided to give it a try.

– Dutch population: 16,5 million
– Dutch labor force: 8,5 million
– Total number of cars: 8 million
– For 40 percent of travels longer than 10 km, public transportation is used
– On a daily basis, 1 million people use public transport
– 30 percent of the total population uses a car
– 1,43 people use a car on average (less during rush hour)

Interesting you might say. But what’s you’re point? Well, based on this information, 360.000 to 637.500 cars would stay home. Which is a lot more compared to PWC’s calculations. I guess my question stays the same. How did they calculate this?

A promising scenario

Perhaps most promising is the scenario researchers used. A scenario in which twenty percent of the labor force spends one or two days a week working from home. And they’re not talking about the distant future. Nope, researchers used the year 2015. So imagine a scenario for 2020 or 2030. Will we see half of the labor force spending three to four days a week working from home? If so, imagine how a city or an entire country would look like.

Downside

Benefits would come from the reduction in cars on the roads – which in turn would cut traffic, improve air quality and cut accidents. Also companies can reduce their office costs and home workers are more efficient, PWC says. Sounds great?! Not so fast. Despite the positive aspects, home workers also tend to overwork, and it is proven to be difficult to keep work and private life separate. And this makes sense. If you have the ability to work wherever and whenever you want, you’ll also feel the pressure of doing so. Resulting in longer work hours, more stress and less private space (after all, house equals work). It’s the architects job to prevent this from happening, which will be a major challenge. Working from home should be a benefit. Not a downside.


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