Teleworking: an alternative, to reduce stress and greenhouse gas emission?

Is there any connection between stress, greenhouse gas emission and teleworking? Of course, this is not a quiz, but here you will find some reasons why teleworking could be a good alternative to reduce stress and greenhouse gas emission.

 

Stress

 

It is a response to a remarked discrepancy between demand and ability – which could occur at home, in our private lives, but also at work. In these situations someone finds themselves in a situation of more demand and less ability, or more ability and less demand. Work-related stress for, example, may arise from inflexible work schedules or unpredictable working hours. The private life and workplace-related stress may follow each other: if a worker has family problems, it will impact on his/her job performance, and relationships. If somebody is not satisfied with the content or context of his/her work, it will have an impact on his/her private life.[1] And sooner or later his/her health might be in danger, too.

 

Greenhouse gas emission

 

The United Nations emitted over 2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2014…”[2] – according to the Report of the UN System`s footprint[3]. The report indicates that 44% of these two million tons comes from UN paid travel, and 43% from facilities, like electricity, etc. Nevertheless, some activities are reported voluntarily in this study: e.g. the commute of personnel, couriers, water and waste treatment. These are optional categories, not included in this data. Can you imagine how many million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted during the commuting of UN personnel? 251,886 people worked in 65 UN entities in 2014. Their commuting-related gas emission must be a huge number.

 

Teleworking and the ILO

 

Teleworking would not only decrease commuting-related gas emission, but it would also increase the time available for more effective official work, personal development or better management of official time,  family and social life. Better management of work and family life would lower work-related stress and burnout. In the case of colleagues who are soon to be retiring, this possibility would assist them to change their lifestyle slowly, step by step.

 

In addition, the teleworking possibility would increase the confidence shown in staff by the ILO. All the increased possibilities given to employees increases the loyalty shown towards the employer. The increased loyalty contains the motivation for better performance.

 

Extending the possibility of teleworking to each colleague would be advantageous for the organization, the individual and the environment. The days granted for telework could be increased step by step, while monitoring and evaluating the related experience.

 

How can the ILO implement a new policy on Teleworking?

 

Actually, teleworking in the ILO is regulated by IGDS No. 142 and Office procedure No. 141 issued in February 2010, six years ago (!). Unfortunately, these rules exclude some functions from the possibility of teleworking. In the meantime, our new integrated information system, IRIS, has been introduced in the ILO field offices worldwide in addition to other online collaborative tools offering new possibilities for administrative, technical and professional officials to work remotely. Taking into account these new opportunities, the rules referred to above might be reviewed, leading to more possibilities for implementation of teleworking. The final solution should be based on a detailed discussion between the staff, the Administration and the Staff Union.

 

It may start with a survey, requesting the opinion of the staff on this subject. Depending on the opinions received, the possibility of 1 day per month could be given as an option for all, and the possibility of accumulation could be discussed. The teleworking day has to be monitored by the supervisor right after the option has been taken, on the basis of the given criteria: availability (within half an hour?) and performance (on a scale of three levles: excellent, adequate, or insufficient. If an insufficient evaluation is given, it has to be explained and discussed).

 

The overall experience collected from offices and subregions can be evaluated on the basis of previously agreed criteria. Or pilot offices (one from each continent) can be nominated, and the experiences collected for an evaluation.

 

Regarding the technical tools required, the teleworker may use his/her own devices or the assets of the office. Both cases require a special process and attention. Perhaps taking the Information Security Awareness course would be an advantage for teleworking.

 

Last, but not least, a UN Organization could set a good example for other Organizations and enterprises by granting the possibility of teleworking for all staff.

 

Kuna, Zsuzsa

DWT/CO Budapest

 

 

[1] “Workplace stress: A collective challenge”, ILO, 2016, pages 2-3.

[2] http://www.greeningtheblue.org/news/un-reports-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2014

[3] “Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN, the UN system`s Footprint and Effort to Reduce it”, UNEP, 2015, page 6.

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