Telework in Summertime

Summertime is here. In many places it’s here with a vengeance. Heat waves are roasting Europe and North America. It’s clearly time to consider telework in summertime. Here are some comments.

Britain breaks heat records

In mid-July British authorities published “red” heat warnings for the first time ever. An overheated Summertime. Temperatures reached 100F in London, the Midlands, the south of the UK and Wales. Records were broken in several cities.

Now, for Texans, this doesn’t sound too unusual but consider the infrastructure in the UK. Houses and offices are built to retain heat not get rid of it. Ditto for subways. Neither are adapted to hot summers. Consequently the traditional commute to/from work is enervating as is much time spent in an non-airconditioned office.

But if offices are overheated aren’t homes as well? Yes, but workers at home don’t have to wear hot business clothing, can place fans where needed, can open windows if there’s a breeze, and otherwise survive the hot times easier than if they were in their traditional offices.

So “Officials urged people to use public transportation only if necessary, and to work from home Monday and Tuesday — a plea reminiscent of the depths of the coronavirus pandemic” according to the New York Times article (emphasis added).

The same in the rest of the northern hemisphere

This story is repeated in Europe (for example, Spain reached 46C/114.8F), India and North America, although with slight reductions in places where air conditioning is readily available. Offices and public transport become unlivable. Train rails are warped by the heat. Airport runways buckle. Transportation is made difficult or impossible. Summertime has worsened all sorts of things in all sorts of places.

It’s not just quirky weather, it’s climate change. It’s not just here to stay, it’s here to worsen until we actually start reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This summer is one that will be remembered fondly in the future as one of the cooler ones.

Why telework?

For all the reasons stated above, telework is an important tool for combatting global warming in general and heat waves and other disasters in particular. Telework is immediately applicable to these situations as a means of carrying on business as usual. Further, by eliminating transportation and the use of fossil fuels it reduces the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, thereby direct reducing the rate of global warming. Telework in summertime, and any time, is a good alternative for millions of people.

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