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Virtual Mobility and Pollution Prevention - The Emerging Role of ICT Based Communication in Organisations and its Impact on Travel

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  • Environmental Technology
  • Pollution Control
  • Travel Reduction
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Telework
  • Web-Meetings
  • Audioconferencing
  • Videoconferencing
  • Virtual Mobility
  • Virtual Communication
  • It
  • Ikt
  • Ict
  • Miljöteknik
  • Kontroll Av Utsläpp
  • Informatics
  • Systems Theory
  • Informatik
  • Systemteori
  • Telecommunication Engineering
  • Telekommunikationsteknik
  • Technology And Engineering
  • Mathematics And Statistics
  • Earth And Environmental Sciences
  • Communication
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Information and Communication Technologies change the way we work and communicate, enabling us to telework and to have virtual meetings - collaborating without a physical meeting. This can influence the need for commuting and business travel by provision of access to an activity without mobility - virtual mobility. The large environmental impact of travel makes this potential travel reduction interesting, from a societal perspective as well as for individual organisations. However, these technology applications do not necessarily lead to travel substitution. They also have other environmental implications, as they change our need for technical equipment, building space and so forth. Can telework and virtual meetings reduce travel and associated environmental impacts in an organisation? If this is the case, is promotion of these applications justifiable, taking other environmental implications into account? What factors influence the outcome? How can the adoption of telework and virtual meetings be environmentally improved? What does this tell us regarding other virtual mobility applications such as Telemedicine? These questions were addressed through analysis of travel and environmental implications for telework and virtual meetings in several organisations. Drivers and barriers to environmental enhancement are identified, and pathways to 'greening' the applications are provided. On average 64% of the respondents in four organisations studied experienced that videoconferencing had substituted their business travels, and 45% of the teleworkers in one organisation claimed that telework reduced their commuter travel. On average 2% had experienced an increase in business travel due to videoconferencing, and 10% claimed that telework had led to more travel. Estimations of CO2 emissions in different scenarios indicated that telework in 'worst-case' could lead to an overall increase of CO2 emissions, but also a substantial reduction in the 'best-case'. Virtual meetings in both cases led to emission reductions, however, the scenario outcomes differed largely. The main drivers for the organisations were the possibility to save time and money. The benefits for individuals were mainly social. Barriers to more significant environmental gains were identified within organisational, institutional, personal and practical categories. Travel savings are not promoted due to lack of incentives, both on the individual and organisational level. For virtual meetings, lack of training and experience, support, and routines limited the use. Telework was limited by information management and meetings routines not being adapted to telework, lack of acceptance from management, and insufficient technology and network connection. For virtual meetings, enhancing the environmental outcome may include shifting the focus from travel to meetings and communication, training and education of key personnel, and creating incentives for employees. For telework, the key factor is to enable people to work whole days by removing practical and organisational barriers. Some parallel findings and conclusions were found for telemedicine.

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