When we talk about the benefits of remote work, we normally talk about the benefits for people: for remote workers benefiting from flexibility, and for employers benefiting from retaining top talent by offering flexibility.
But, in honor of the holiday, we're going to share a few ways working from home helps the environment, too.
Earth Day 2020 is on Wednesday, April 22nd and this year's theme is climate action. With much of the world working from home due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Earth Day is going online with Earth Day Live.
During this time when many of us are working from home, there's been a reduction in traffic and pollution, and our individual carbon footprints have shrunk as a result. This unique situation has increased our awareness of how working from home and sustainability go hand-in-hand.
The question is: Will we be able to continue this trend once we "return to work"?
While we can't be certain of the answer just yet, we do know that remote work can have a positive impact on the environment. Kate Lister, the President of Global Workplace Analytics, says, " ... there is no easier, quicker, and cheaper way to reduce your carbon footprint than by reducing commuter travel."
After analyzing the results of the Global Work-From Home Experience Survey, Global Workplace Analytics predicts that 25-30% of the workforce will work from home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021. As we adapt the way we work, there's an opportunity to create positive change. Keep reading to learn about the key benefits that working from home can have on the environment.
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When you work from home, you're only steps away from your kitchen, where you can brew coffee and tea, cook breakfast and lunch, and forgo the use of single-use plastic food containers, bags, or cutlery. By working from home, you can help eliminate food and plastic waste by using your own cups, cutlery, and plates for eating and drinking throughout the day.
Office temperatures need to be regulated to account for keeping multiple people warm or cool during the day, but with fewer people (and maybe a pet) working from home, you can regulate your home's temperature to your exact preference by setting it in the morning and not changing it all day. This requires less energy expenditure than it would to change the AC or heat settings all day long in the office.
Similarly, it's easier to manage electrical output when you're working from home, too. Whereas offices have automatic light switches and multiple rooms being lit at one time, you can restrict the use of power in your home by working in one room or area throughout the day when you work from home.
The most impactful part of working from home is the fact that you don't need to commute to do so. By skipping out on your commute, whether you get to work by driving, taking the bus, or calling a rideshare, you'll forgo carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.
With the presence of COVID-19, health and safety are top priority and we've had to pause our travel plans. But, will there be a long-lasting change in behavior regarding travel?
As people begin to return to work, business leaders will need to consider if travel for conferences and meetings is necessary. With the increased usage and adoption of video conferencing tools, like Zoom, they might be more inclined to host a virtual conference or kickoff meeting, rather than gathering in-person.
Not only does less business travel mean reduced carbon emissions, but it can also provide cost savings to employers and employees. Global Workplace Analytics found:
"... a typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time. Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year (working remotely half the time) and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full time."
We've seen that working from home will play an important role in shaping the future of work and the environment, and looking forward, we'll need to rethink the way we work.
To make a positive change for the environment, it takes the collective effort of many individuals. Here are some tips to make every day Earth Day when you're working from home.
We'll leave you with some Earth Day quotes for even more inspiration.
1. "One individual cannot possibly make a difference alone. It is individual efforts, collectively, that makes a noticeable difference—all the difference in the world." – Dr. Jane Goodall
2. "An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment." – David Attenborough
3. "The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share." – Lady Bird Johnson
4. "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." – Albert Einstein
5. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." – Margaret Mead
Looking for more? Try our meeting emissions calculator now to learn the average carbon dioxide emissions of your business travel.