Two years into remote and hybrid work, many of us have come to understand the personal benefits of it. These benefits include the flexibility to work in any location of our choice, better work-life balance, improved productivity with flexible timings, saved resources and more. However, along with the perks that remote work offers to employees, there are a few vital environmental benefits of remote work. The largest of these come from not commuting daily, making the carbon footprint that each remote employee leaves much smaller than those who travel daily to offices. According to Forbes, "Annual net carbon savings from increased remote working (attributable to faster broadband) are estimated to be 0.24 million tonnes by 2024."
With remote work in place, people all over the globe are making healthy choices, which ultimately helps individuals, organizations, and the planet.
Let’s look at the most significant positive effects of remote work on the environment:
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
We’re all well aware of the adverse effects climate change (global warming) has on our environment and its associated risk. Climate change is hastened by the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Wildlife extinction, harsh weather conditions and higher sea levels are some of the many adverse consequences of climate change resulting from human activities unfavorable to the environment.
“Private transport is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, with emissions rising every year,”--- reveals a report from BBC. Without daily commutes, remote work can go a long way toward cutting back on the greenhouse gases released into the air. Working from home avoids commuting, and fewer commuters result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
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Improved air quality
As remote work reduces daily commuting, it reduces gas emissions resulting in cleaner and healthier air. Cities around the world are filled with vehicles contributing to air pollution. Shifting to remote work will make the cars stay away from the roads leading to cleaner and fresher air. Reducing urban air pollution is one of the positive impacts of remote work on the environment.
Reduced energy consumption
Offices consume an extensive amount of energy daily. Remote working will reduce these as there will be fewer rooms to cool and light up, fewer seats to be heated with fewer employees in offices. While in the office, people are less environmentally conscious about switching off lights, air conditioning and computers. On the other hand, while working from home, employees can switch off air conditioners, lights, fans, and heaters when not in use. Some even prefer natural lights over electric and LED lights. Overall, one of the positive effects of remote work on the environment is that employees have more control over their energy consumption at home than in an office environment.
Less plastic and paper usage
Undoubtedly, remote work has led to less usage of plastic and paper, resulting in less waste generation. While in the office, we tend to print out documents more than required. In contrast, most remote workers have moved toward digital document management systems with e-signature features, which has cut down on paper waste.
When we commute to work, we tend to grab a cup of coffee or packed lunch almost every day of the workweek. All the bottles, plastic utensils, food packaging, etc., significantly increase the total amount of plastic used. While working from home, many people use reusable plates and cups, meaning that plastic and paper waste from the disposal utensils and dishes used at office cafeterias has also dropped.
Here’s how remote employees can live a sustainable lifestyle
Don’t miss out on any opportunity to educate your employees on how to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Climate change is a global issue, and your employees may not know how to start helping. Remind them that every measure or act they do will add up and suggest simple ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Encourage your remote employees to switch off electric gadgets, fans, and lights when not in use. You can develop a system to reward employees who can reduce their electricity bill to make this more interesting.
- Conduct workshops to instil knowledge on the importance of gardening and motivate your employees to start gardening as a hobby. Gardening can be relaxing as well as a source for your employees to grow their fruits and vegetables.
- Inspirit your employees to use eco-friendly furniture, energy-efficient lighting systems, and green office supplies in their homes to the fullest extent. To make it feasible for everyone, you can also offer a small allowance to help them afford more environmentally friendly options.
- Organize virtual events and webinars with environmental activists to educate your employees on how to recycle and reuse efficiently.
Boosting environmental consciousness among your employees can go a long way towards reducing the impact of global warming and one step toward saving our planet. The tiny steps you take by altering your everyday routine can impact the environment more positively than you think. Remote work is here to stay and let's take this opportunity to embrace it and be mindful of our everyday decisions that impact the environment. Educate your workforce about the effects of climate change and how they can help leave this planet a better place for future generations!
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