Decarbonising the workplace
Sustainable measures and incentives employers can consider
Everyone across the economy will have to play their part if Switzerland is to meet the target set out in the Paris Climate Agreement of halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving the Swiss Federal Council’s longterm climate strategy of net-zero emissions by 2050.
A Deloitte survey on the topic of decarbonisation shows that the majority of citizens support more climate-friendly solutions at the workplace in the areas of mobility, food and premises. A majority of those surveyed believe it is important to avoid emissions in their day-to-day working life. Around one-fifth of respondents also say that their choice of employer is strongly influenced by efforts to reduce emissions.
Employees support workplace decarbonisation
The issue of workplace decarbonisation is a crucial one for a majority of the survey respondents and the findings show that employees have clear expectations of both private and public sector employers (see Chart 1). Almost four in ten respondents expect their employer to reduce emissions to net-zero over the next few years, meeting Switzerland’s long-term climate target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Together with the one in three who are neutral, this finding points to a significant sense of urgency on the part of respondents and substantial room for improvement by employers when it comes to making progress in sustainability at the workplace.
Responses indicate that only just over a third of employers are perceived as already operating on a low emissions basis and as being on the way to achieving the net-zero target for emissions. Two out of ten respondents say that this statement is not true of their current or most recent employer. The findings point to room for improvement and action by employers.
Room for improvement in mobility, food and premises
More than one-third of all respondents (36%) report that their employer promotes lower emissions from mobility – for example, by paying for a public transport travel card or reducing business travel – but more than a quarter (27%) disagree (see Chart 2).
There is also room for improvement and action in the area of employers’ reduction of emissions from food. Just three out of ten respondents (30%) believe employers are doing enough to cut emissions, for example by serving low-emissions food and fewer meat dishes in canteens or avoiding waste.
Just over a third of respondents (35%) report that their employer promotes lower emissions from premises. However, just over one in five (22%) think that employers are not doing enough in this area and would welcome emissions-free alternative forms of heating, environmentally-friendly refrigeration and air conditioning technology, reviews of energy use, and improvements in the energy efficiency of existing equipment in offices or shop floors.
To drive sustainable workplace decarbonisation, however, both sides must be involved. It is not enough simply for employers to take new measures and provide new benefits; employees too need to change their behaviour and make an active contribution.
Significant economic potential and scope for employers to enhance their reputation
Sustainability at the workplace is also an opportunity: 33% of respondents think that cutting emissions offers significant potential economic benefit to their employer, with 40% seeing a connection between an employer’s environmental awareness and its image. Respondents see sustainability-led companies and organisations as attractive and favour their goods and services, making such employers a magnet for talent.
Employer measures and incentives in the area of sustainable employee mobility range from promoting the use of public transport and cycling, reducing the use of fossil fuels for business travel and encouraging e-mobility, as well as introducing shared mobility solutions and flexible working (e.g. remote working or options for home office). In food the measures include low-emissions distribution and supply (including greater use of local and regional suppliers), sustainable menus in canteens, with more vegetarian and vegan options, and recycling (e.g. avoiding use of plastics and increasing multi-use packaging solutions). Options for decarbonising premises include energy reviews and improvements, better energy efficiency of office equipment, the use of renewable energy, and environmentally-friendly lighting, refrigeration and air-conditioning.
About the study
This study explores the challenges and opportunities currently facing Switzerland in its attempts to decarbonise the workplace sustainably, with a special focus on mobility, food and premises. It is based on a survey of private individuals and interviews with experts from the private sector (companies) and the public sector (government and academia). Sustainable decarbonisation of mobility and food production and consumption in society are the focus of separate studies.
The survey was conducted in early May 2021, with 1,501 individuals completing a questionnaire. Half were men and half women, and respondents were aged between 15 and 67. Thirty-five per cent of the sample lived in large towns and cities (of more than 50,000 inhabitants), 30 per cent in other urban areas, and 35 per cent in rural areas.
Deloitte’s 2020 Power Up Switzerland study identified sustainability, infrastructure and energy as crucial to stimulating Switzerland’s long-term competitiveness as a business location. A healthy environment underpins success right across the economy, with employers, employees and the workplace particularly important.