Among the many things we’ve learned from the coronavirus crisis, a deeper understanding of the effects of a remote workforce is arguably one of the most valuable. Whether good or bad, companies have been forced to allow their employees to work from home in order to slow the spread of the pandemic and reduce the strain on our already-overwhelmed healthcare system. An unintended but welcome consequence of this shift has been that humanity has reduced its carbon footprint significantly, lessening the burden on the planet.
Here are some of the specific ways working from home are helping the environment.
1. Reduces Pollution
During the coronavirus crisis, countries throughout the world have seen a decline in levels of air pollution after putting lockdowns in place. In fact, one report showed that carbon monoxide emissions had been reduced by about 50 percent compared to last year. Levels of CO2 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have also been reduced, mainly because there are fewer cars and trucks on the road. Naturally, when there are fewer commuters, pollution levels drop. This also means a reduction in the use of emissions-heavy public transportation systems, including buses and trains.
2. Lessens the Use of Gasoline
One of the most obvious ways that you’ll have contributed to a greener earth by working remotely is by consuming less gas and emitting less pollution from your vehicle. Of course, gasoline is a non-renewable resource which releases harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Another bonus, of course, is how much money you’ll have saved on gas and car maintenance. Working from home allows you to build a closer network of essentials, so instead of driving to the store or park, you ride your bike or walk to one in your neighborhood.
3. Energy Efficient
Not having offices for employees means companies have saved big bucks on heating and cooling massive spaces, which means a reduction in consuming natural resources and energy. Companies are starting to realize how much money and pollution they can save this way. In fact, Dell’s flexible work program resulted in a savings of 6,700 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in a single fiscal year. And this was only from allowing about 20 percent of the company to work remotely. As companies with remote workers use fewer office supplies and paper documents, they also tend to require a lot less storage space, which translates to less energy consumed.
4. Lessens Consumption
How many of us have turned to vending machines, corner stores and takeout for food during the workday? No matter how many times we remind ourselves, we often forget to bring our reusable water bottles and wind up buying landfill-destined plastic bottles from the vending machine in a pinch. Investing in a high-quality glass water bottle and stocking up on lunch basics will help prevent you from consuming food and drinks when working from home, lessening the amount of plastic packaging and other unnecessary waste.
5. Reduces Paper Use
When you work remotely, you’re effectively taking a lot of your normal processes from offline to online, which means e-signatures instead of scanned signatures, video conferencing instead of in-person meetings and fewer and fewer hard copies of files and documents. We can do virtually everything online these days. In other words, digital work leads to a massive reduction in printing and less need for ink and other office supplies. It also means using typical workplace electronics — like scanners and printers — a lot less often, which can save energy and impact associated with manufacturing.
6. Reduces Building Pollution
Did you know that the construction sector contributes to almost half of the climate change and a quarter of the air pollution in the world? The fact of the matter is that thriving companies tend to build fancy new offices, and fancy new offices can have a big impact on the environment. When we build new buildings, chemicals and raw materials are emitted into the air and our waterways. With a broader remote workforce, commercial construction can be significantly reduced.
7. Reduces the Number of Sick Employees
One thing we’ve learned from the devastating coronavirus pandemic is that offices are quite literally a breeding ground for gross, disease-causing germs that spread like wildfire in enclosed office spaces. When your workforce stays home, they’re spreading significantly fewer germs between one another. And, as we’ve learned from the recent outbreak, pandemics require the rapid manufacture and transport of essential medical supplies, which has an impact on the environment.
8. Less Need for Road Maintenance
Besides a reduction in pollution, a lot of things happen to the roads when more people work from home. Fewer traffic accidents are reported and there’s less need for road maintenance. Less traffic means repaving less often as well as not having to replace signage, barriers and other roadway essentials. Of course, these things require materials and transport, which can negatively impact the environment. The reduced damage to our basic infrastructure systems, including roads and bridges, could be significant.
The Many Benefits of Remote Work
As more and more companies shift to a digital workforce, we can expect to see a clearer picture emerge indicating how this could affect our world. There’s no denying that giving employees the ability to work from home translates to an all-around happier and more productive worker, and now it’s becoming more evident than ever that it can also help reduce the strain on our planet. In other words, it’s a win-win for everyone!
Article Submitted By Community Writer