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Social, mobility and energetic impacts of home-office on the employees of the School of Engineering

At a glance


The project pursues the following three research questions:

1. What is the acceptance for home office in the current COVID-19 situation at the ZHAW School of Engineering (SoE) and how can it be designed to make it more bearable for the SoE staff?

2. how have home office and other measures to combat COVID-19 changed our mobility and what can be used for its sustainable transformation?

3. what are the effects of home office as one of the most important COVID-19 measures on the energy consumption of households and of the SoE?

The first research question will be answered through a survey among ZHAW SoE employees which will explore, among other things, the following aspects:

  • How much home office can employees be expected to tolerate?
  • How do employees perceive home office?
  • What are the most important advantages of home office?
  • What is the perception about the main obstacles to an efficient home office?
  • Can home office positively influence the attitude towards cycling?

The second research question will be answered on the basis of a comprehensive meta-study. In particular, a focus on the links between home office and sustainable mobility is investigated. For this purpose, publicly available, partly already consolidated and visualized tracking data will be analysed. In the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the mobility behaviour of the Swiss population changed significantly. According to the latest User Mobility Reports of the tech giants Apple and Google, a reduction in public transport use of 47% to 59% and a reduction in car use of around 25% can be seen compared to the previous year. Together with the visualizations uploaded weekly on the Mobis-Covid19 study website, there is a good data foundation to visually and mathematically depict a more subtle individual transport use and the current mobility behaviour of the Swiss population.

The third research question quantifies the reduction of electrical energy demand at the SoE caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and compares it with the additional demand caused by home office activities. The analysis builds on projects already carried out at the IEFE Institute, with detailed measurements as well as the methodical and algorithmic experiences for the derivation of individual devices and activities from a central measurement. In detail, the following steps are carried out:

  • Evaluation and adjustment of existing consumption data of the SoE (electricity and water)
  • Evaluation of measurements from individual households and canteen kitchens and extrapolation for the entire SoE
  • Derivation of recommendations for the home office for the SoE based on the electricity and water consumption
  • Trend prediction for the electrical energy and water demand

All in all, this project and the simultaneous consideration of social, mobility and energy-related aspects gives the SoE a deeper insight into the effects of home office on employees and the university, thus preparing for future opportunities and risks.