'Playing our part' | Could working from home help stop the war in Ukraine?

Could working from home help stop the war in Ukraine?

Workers across the continent have been encouraged to work from home to reduce the consumption of Russian energy and, in turn, reduce funding for the nation’s war against Ukraine.

This week, the International Energy Agency and the European Commission outlined a range of simple steps that people can take to reduce their energy use and save money, which would save enough oil to fill 120 super tankers and enough natural gas to heat almost 20 million homes if adopted by EU citizens.

The EU said the proposal to use less energy - published in a new report called Playing My Part -  is not only an immediate way for citizens to reduce their bills, but it also supports Ukraine by reducing the need for Russian oil and gas, thereby helping to reduce the revenue streams funding the invasion.

Studies from the European Commission found that commuting accounts for around a quarter of the oil used by cars in the EU. However, more than a third of jobs in the European Union could be done from home.

People across Europe have already been helping Ukraine by making donations or aiding refugees directly, and many now have the chance to do more. Most households are also experiencing higher energy bills because of the energy crisis, exacerbated by the war.

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Recommended steps involve turning down heating and using less air conditioning, working from home to avoid commuting, and car-pooling or travelling by public transport when available.

Employers have been told they “have a role to play” by encouraging remote working and, where possible, train journeys instead of short-haul flights for business trips. Governments have also been asked to step up by providing financial incentives, such as reducing fares for public transport, and to support to the installation of solar panels, improve home insulation and switch to other fuel sources for heating.

“Faced with the horrendous scenes of human suffering that we’ve seen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, people in Europe want to take action,” said IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol.

“Using less energy is a concrete way to help the Ukrainian people – and to help ourselves. This guide has easy-to-follow steps that with little or no discomfort on our part can reduce the flow of money to Russia’s military and help put us on a path to a cleaner and more sustainable planet.”

HR leaders help relocate Ukraine workers

HR leaders across Europe have already stepped up to help employees based in Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict, with several announcing major relocation plans for staff and their families.

The world reacted with shock and anger following Russia’s armed invasion of its neighbouring state, prompting political and business leaders to take action, predominantly by cutting ties with Russian firms.

However, leaders within the people function also ramped up humanitarian efforts by helping civilians trapped in Ukraine, with a number of firms revealing how they specifically have been helping their workers.

Anthony Lamot, CEO of cloud marketing firm DESelect, revealed his company was helping its Ukrainian staff flee to the firm’s headquarters in Belgium.

“I would also suggest other business leaders to consider taking similar action”, Lamot said in a LinkedIn post, adding: “This is not about politics, this is about helping fellow humans.”

Similarly, Wix.com’s Talent Acquisition Leader Anthony Rodriguez posted that the web development company had already begun arranging several weeks ago to relocate its Ukrainian employees and their families who wanted to be flown out of the country “in preparation for what was to come.”

All travel and living expenses are being covered by Wix, Rodriguez added.

Should the UK adopt the EU’s WFH plan?

The UK Government has so far not made the same recommendations as the EU when it comes to remote working. Instead it has tightened sanctions on goods exported from Russia, including a ban on caviar, silver and wood products.

The Department for International Trade said it was also ramping up taxes on some other exports from Russia and Belarus, covering goods worth a total of £130m.

International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said the UK was taking every opportunity to "ratchet the pressure to isolate the Russian economy".

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"These further measures will tighten the screws, shutting down lucrative avenues of funding for Putin's war machine," she said.

However, British firms have already stepped up to aid refugees fleeing the war-torn country. In March, several major UK firms joined forces to offer employment to refugees.

Well-known names like retail giants Marks & Spencer and Morrisons, fashion brand Asos and cosmetics icon Lush are among the companies that are in talks with Downing Street about arranging jobs and accommodation for thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

A coalition of more than 40 large firms was formed (with even more reportedly in talks to join), to provide as many as 10,000 jobs. Furthermore, the businesses involved pledged to help the refugees secure visas, accommodation and even language training.

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