As the smoke from Australia’s catastrophic fires passed over New Zealand this summer, it brought home for many the stark reality of climate change. As much as it is possible to see the changing climate as a distant worry, as these events become more common and more local, there will be flow-on effects for businesses.

On the lower end of the scale, significant weather events can cause power outages and closures. Large-scale droughts and fires, and even rising sea levels, can have significant ramifications for staff, whose homes might be affected, and for offices, which may face huge disruptions.

The question becomes: can we continue with ‘business-as-usual’ or is it time to do more to prevent these events from happening?

What can we do?

It’s fairly common these days to see email footers asking recipients to consider the planet before printing. Many offices also have recycling bins and compost facilities in their staff rooms to manage waste. Some have cycling lockers and showers for staff who commute by bike or foot. These are all great ways to make a change. However, one significant way to reduce the carbon footprint of your office – which can be overlooked – is to allow flexible working arrangements for staff.

Recent findings from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study show that the average working Aucklander spends five hours per week commuting. Provided that 2018 census data indicates that 4 out of 5 workers in New Zealand’s main centres drive to their place of employment, that points to a huge amount of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere.

Allowing flexible working arrangements for even one day per week can make a huge difference to the carbon footprint of your workplace.

Everybody wins

Providing flexibility for staff to work from home when possible can also have flow-on effects in many aspects of your business, including staff retention and the ability to recruit employees from the savvy Millennial generation, or hold onto valuable staff members whose family situations change.

Spreading the word about your flexible working policies – and why you implemented them – can help to market your brand as innovative, socially responsible and environmentally friendly, which can also bring in more clients or customers, as these issues become priority for everyone. Far from green-washing, having a policy in place to help with your carbon footprint is a good way to demonstrate seriousness about these issues.

Whether it be a shift to one flexi day per week, or an entire flexibility overhaul, making changes for the better of our Earth can only be seen as a win-win.

The way of the future

According to the Institute of Directors NZ, Climate Change is top of the list of concerns for directors in 2020. If you need help bumping climate change to the top of your list, give us a call. Freerange Works can assist with building and implementing flexible working arrangements that create a win for your employees, your business and your customers.

Contact the team at Freerange Works for a free consultation on 0800 04 FLEX or email

Photo: Smoke from the Australian bush fires at Omaha Beach, New Zealand in January 2020 (#nofilter).