Abrdn expects home working to be ‘lasting feature’

Edinburgh-based investment giant Standard Life Aberdeen said on Tuesday it expects that working from home (WFH) and hybrid working are likely to be “lasting” features of working life as it develops a strategy to tackle home-working emissions as part of a commitment to a “50% reduction in operational emissions by 2025.”

The firm, currently changing its name to Abrdn, said it has accelerated its climate change commitments “to achieve a 50% reduction (from the 2018 baseline) in scope 1, 2 and 3 operational emissions by 2025,” which it called “an ambitious start towards Net Zero by 2050.”

This includes business travel and working from home emissions.

Abrdn has offices in over 50 locations worldwide and employs around 6,000 people.

The firm said it has partnered with Pawprint, an eco-tech company, to “help employees measure, monitor and reduce their carbon footprint via a set of tailored questions and challenges.”

Abrdn said it is a pioneer of the “Pawprint for Business” app which allows the company to gather “anonymous data” to remove some of the assumptions in its current WFH emissions analysis.

“Our approach to managing our operational emissions is to reduce as much as we can and then offset what remains,” said Abrdn.

“A dramatic change in the nature of our operational carbon footprint, which we have been monitoring since 2006, occurred during the pandemic as emissions from our offices and business travel reduced.

“Travel which made up 65% of our footprint in 2019 only represented 14% of emissions in 2020, by building on the technology we have become accustomed to, we can continue to reduce business travel from the pre-pandemic levels.

“Additionally, although we continue to roll out efficiency measures in our largest offices, in 2020 we went from having under 1% of our employees working from home to over 95%.

“This meant that home working became the largest source of emissions, accounting for 55% of our carbon footprint.

“Working from home (WFH) or hybrid working is likely to be a lasting feature of working life, therefore we are developing a strategy to tackle home-working emissions.

“We calculate our WFH emissions based on accepted, robust and audited models but we feel it’s imperative we go further than best practice.

“We have partnered with Pawprint, an eco-tech company to help employees measure, monitor and reduce their carbon footprint via a set of tailored questions and challenges.

“We are a pioneer of the Pawprint for Business app which allows us to gather anonymous data to remove some of the assumptions in our current WFH emissions analysis.

“By informing people of their biggest carbon impacts the app then challenges them to make either large or small changes to address this.

“As we look to new ways of living and working, another initiative we are now offering to UK employees is electric car leasing which is an environmentally friendly and cost effective way to travel.

“Providing greener and more sustainable choices for employees as part of the flexible benefits package is an important step to helping everyone have the opportunity to make sustainable changes.”

Abrdn CEO Stephen Bird said: “ESG is not a hygiene factor and it is not a bolt on activity, we all have a responsibility to constantly analyse our own progress and ambition.

“We also know that commitments need to be more than words.

“We need to be held to account on both our plans and progress – through clear and specific targets, and transparent and credible reporting.

“As a business we are carbon neutral, through offsetting 110% of our operational carbon footprint and by accelerating our climate change commitments we hope to demonstrate our constructive contribution towards decarbonisation.”