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The Covid-19 pandemic saw many employees shift to remote work, and it has since become the new normal. It is still early to assess the full extent of the environmental benefits of remote work, but there are signs that it could make a significant difference in reducing carbon emissions and consuming less resources.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which remote work can have a positive environmental impact.
Less need for office space
Recent surveys show that 91% of remote employees would like to continue with remote or hybrid working. They appreciate not having to commute and enjoy the flexibility remote work offers them. Resumes Planet finds that many applicants today want help with writing resumes for remote work. With remote work more normalize, employers now have the benefit of choosing from a much wider talent pool than ever before.
With more employees working remotely, businesses are considering how much office space they really need with many of them reducing their fixed assets and downsizing their office footprint. Some no longer need office space at all. This could see a movement to use previous commercial spaces in different ways, such as for recreation or as parks.
Reduction of energy consumption from offices
It’s very difficult to give any kind of accurate estimate of how much energy an office consumes since many variables such as size and number of employees come into play. But one can assume that consumption is fairly high. An office has to have a heating and cooling system, lights, computers, printing stations etc. Offices often have automatic light switches that light up multiple rooms at one time. In fact it can require less energy to light, cool and heat individual homes. Employees who work from home are usually more aware of things like leaving lights on unnecessarily as expenses come out of their own pocket.
Some employers are supplementing the costs of working from home in the form of energy or internet payments. However, this is usually more affordable for them than the fixed costs of having commercial office space. While video conferencing can burn energy, researchers argue that the net impact is still a positive one.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
A significant amount of greenhouse gasses are produced by the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide. Reduced fossil fuel consumption due to less commuting reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Research indicates that greenhouse gas emissions from commuting were reduced by 43% in 2019 and 97% in 2020 compared with the levels pre-pandemic. The commuting data collected for this research came from employees in 24 countries using twelve different forms of transport. There is no faster and easier way for employees to reduce their carbon footprint than by reducing their commuter travel.
Reduction in urban air pollution
The air pollution from gas emissions in cities like Los Angeles and New Delhi is high. This can cause residents to struggle to breathe, and the lack of fresh air aggravates or even causes respiratory health problems. Lung infections and asthma are more common in highly polluted areas. Reduced air pollution from remote work is one of the undeniable benefits to the environment.
As companies have fewer in-person meetings and implement remote-first workplaces, the need for all forms of travel, including air travel, is decreasing. With fewer emissions, the air becomes cleaner. There is less haze and ozone depletion.
Less densely populated cities
As long as workers have an internet connection, remote employees can live anywhere. Many are choosing to move away from densely populated, polluted and expensive cities to smaller, greener, cheaper areas. This can help them to reduce their monthly living costs, but it also helps to decrease population density in cities. There are even entire companies that have chosen to move their headquarters to lower-density locations. In the cities, urban planners could start to make positive environmental changes. A number of cities in the world are already pushing motorized vehicles away from the centers.
Reduced food, plastic and paper waste
According to University of Southern Indiana research, an average American uses 85 million tons of paper per year. When working remotely, employees share documents online using software like Slack or Google Drive. This results in relying far less on physical documents. With less paper being used, more trees are saved – no more printing, labeling, and archiving of documents in locked rooms.
Working from home reduces the waste that results from takeaway coffees and snacks. These have long been staples of working in the office. With remote employees working at home, they are only steps away from their kitchens. They can make tea and coffee and cook breakfast and lunch, so they won’t be using as many single-use plastic containers or cutlery.
More work/life balance
Remote employees have the opportunity to create a better work/life balance. How does this help the environment? When they are happier, they are more inclined to participate in activities that can benefit the environment. They are less stressed and can concentrate on issues like reducing their carbon footprint by wasting less and using fewer resources.
It’s cleart that remote work has many employee-related benefits, such as flexibility and the opportunity for a better work/life balance. It seems to be here to stay, so it is important to embrace it and consider its positive effects on the environment.
Remote work means less need for office space, and this can result in less energy consumption. With decreased fossil fuel consumption due to no commuting, there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
The examples mentioned here are just a few of the environmental benefits that could make a difference in the future if the remote work trend is here to stay.
Leon Collier is a popular blogger and academic writer from the United Kingdom. He likes to experiment with different subjects and new topics and loves everything that can challenge him as a writer. His hobbies are reading books and journals and playing board games with his close friends.
Sea Going Green is a sustainable tourism consultancy focused on developing sustainability strategies for clients at the managerial and office level to tourism operations.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw many employees shift to remote work, and it has
since become the new normal. It is still early to assess the full extent of
the environmental benefits of remote work, but there are signs that it
could make a significant difference in reducing carbon emissions and
consuming less resources.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which remote work can have a
positive environmental impact.Read MoreEducationBlog – Sea Going Green