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Social, mobility-related and energetic consequences of the Covid-19-induced home office for the employees of the ZHAW School of Engineering

The Covid-19 crisis has introduced disruptive changes in the way we organise our everyday life. One of those changes is the increased deployment of home office. Before the Covid-19 crisis, home office has been predominantly discussed in the context of its positive implications for work-life balance and sustainable mobility. However, relying solely on home office as a working mode, as practiced wherever possible during the Covid-19 crisis, is a new reality that requires the acceptance as well as mobility and energy consumption effects of home office to be reconsidered. These intriguing considerations motivated two institutes of the ZHAW School of Engineering – the Institute of Sustainable Development (INE) and the Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid Engineering (IEFE) – to explore the consequences of Covid-19 on the acceptance of home office and its mobility-related and energetic effects among the ZHAW School of Engineering employees. The project starts in July 2020 and ends in December 2020.

The question regarding the acceptance of home office is going to be explored by the means of an online survey amongst the ZHAW School of Engineering employees. The core of the survey is going to be organised around the perceived advantages and disadvantages, acceptable degree as well as the influence of personal characteristics, such as socio-demographics or psychological factors, on the acceptance of home office.

We analyse the mobility impact of home office during the Covid-19 crisis based on the above mentioned survey as well as the secondary data, such as those provided by Apple and Google or the weekly uploaded data within the Mobis Covid 19 project, jointly conducted by ETH and the University of Basel. Within the analysis of the mobility impact of home office a special attention is going to be addressed to the effect on the attitudes towards and the use of bicycle as a means of transport.

The energy impact of home office during the Covid-19 crisis is going to be analysed by quantifying the energy consumption reduction at the ZHAW School of Engineering caused by the Covid-19 crisis and contrasting it to the energy consumption increase induced by the switch to home office. The analysis is going to be based on the energy consumption data on the household level available from current and completed projects. From the raw consumption data different activities and the use of different devices can be deduced. The data of individual households is going to be aggregated to the ZHAW School of Engineering level.

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