In a survey conducted by Climate Trends – a New Delhi-based communications initiative – and YouGov, 80 per cent people believe that working from home will have an impact on air quality. This survey was conducted to understand how people were experiencing the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown. At least 72 per cent said they are willing to continue working from home even after the lockdown ends.
The survey was conducted with a sample size of 1,082 urban professional respondents from across 10 of the largest cities in terms of their population – Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune and Surat. The survey was done online.
Nearly one in two respondents indicated that they suffer from health problems related to air pollution, including respiratory, cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases. This explains why individuals are willing to take steps to maintain this unintended reduction in air pollution which has been triggered by the Covid-19 lockdown, Aarti Khosla, director, Climate Trends, said during a webinar held on Monday on the findings of the survey.
About 62 per cent of the respondents would prefer to walk a shorter distance than take a bus, while 37 per cent said they would use public transportation for short distances. This becomes all the more relevant, Khosla said, since 90 per cent of the respondents said their company saved on operational costs due to work from home. She also pointed out that the survey shows that citizens are willing to take greater responsibility in ensuring that they do not end up crowding the streets, and that government officials must pay heed to these emerging trends.
Navroz Dubash, a professor at Centre for Policy Research, said that by making choices that expand environmental gains, look towards the future and improve quality of life, India can hope for a better outcome from this crisis. Reduced business travel will be the norm for the short term and medium term, he added. WFH is a large global experiment currently underway, he said, and if done right, the benefits will be across several levels of society – from improved productivity, to improved family interactions and cleaner liveable cities.
Close to 49 per cent respondents said they will be willing to buy electric vehicles, provided the charging infrastructure is in place across the country, and prices are made affordable. The percentage in favour of e-vehicles was high in some cities such as Jaipur (62 per cent) and Delhi (56 per cent).
Meanwhile, it was noted that even employers are seeing the benefits of WFH. Nine out of ten employees think their company has saved on operational costs since employees began working from home. As many as 89 per cent are willing to encourage WFH if proper work infrastructure is in place, productivity is maintained, and there is evidence of health benefits due to overall reduction in air pollution.
Another 85 per cent agreed that WFH saved substantial man hours by eliminating commute time. However, as cities reopen partially and news cycles report traffic congestion, how business will complete this transition remains to be observed.
Jasmine Shah, vice-chairperson, Dialogue and Development Commissioner, Government of NCT of Delhi, said the reduction of air pollution during the lockdown has shown the importance of tackling emissions at source. As the lockdown is eased, Shah said they hope to put in place supportive conditions, such as improving access and safety of public transport, and making electric vehicles affordable.
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