OVID-19 has caused an upheaval in the way of working for companies across the world. Most organisations have tried to find workarounds to sustain and have initiated remote working programs.
Remote work, also known as Telecommuting, is the only sustainable solution going forward. Organisations are benefitting from saved resources, improved productivity with flexible-timings, and reduced employee turnover. It is being accepted as the new normal.
It is undoubtedly a win-win situation for the employees and employers, but let’s not forget about the positive impact it will have on the environment too. Being conscious of environmental factors is helping everyone alike. People are making healthy choices, which ultimately helps individuals, organisations, and the planet.
Let’s look at the most significant positive environmental impacts of remote work:
1. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
Work from home avoids the commute to work, which saves not only time but also transportation cost. Lesser commuters eventually result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. If all employees start working from home for even half of the week, the gas emissions will reduce drastically.
Greenhouse gases make the planet warmer. The release of such gases is caused by various human activities, burning of fossil fuel being the most prominent. The amount of gasoline burnt by vehicle engines creates hazardous pollution.
The transportation-related emissions are produced by cars, vans, employee minibuses, light-duty trucks, and SUVs that burn fossil fuel.
2. Clean air
Reduced gas emissions mean clean and healthy air. The megacities are crowded with vehicles. As pollution rises, people are struggling to breathe fresh air, causing and aggravating respiratory diseases, such as asthma or lung infections.
You would be astonished to note that air pollution causes more death compared to influenza, HIV, TB, etc. The highway vehicles alone contribute to one –third of the total nitrogen dioxide in the air.
Remote work will allow the vehicles to stay off the road, making the environment clean and green.
3. Save paper
While in office, we tend to take a lot more printouts than required. Some documents can be read online, in the soft copy, but in the office, there is a tendency to print it out. At home, we are more thoughtful about economics. Also, with great virtual platforms available in the market, remote working is becoming convenient for running seamless virtual meetings, events and webinars.
When working remotely, we share files online, through mails, google drive or attachments. If you check the annual consumption of paper, you would be surprised to note that remote working can eliminate the use of 247 trillion sheets of paper.
4. Less use of plastic
Do you also have the habit of grabbing a cuppa coffee on the way to work, picking up breakfast, or buying a packed lunch? When you commute to work, you tend to buy these almost every day of the workweek. All the bottles, plastic utensils, food packaging etc. add up to significantly increase the total amount of plastic used.
Work from home professionals tends to adopt reusable supplies, seriously reducing the contribution to the plastic problem.
Remote work is the only sustainable solution that can benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy consumption, benefitting all, the employee, the employer and the environment.
5. Reduced impact on infrastructure
Fewer vehicles on roads, no traffic jams, reduction in emissions from petrol-powered engines require lesser upkeep of infrastructure. On similar lines, large offices consume a massive amount of energy. 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.
In highly crowded areas, the transportation infrastructure falls short of the increasing demand for commuting vehicles. Those traffic jams during peak hours, the slow pace of vehicles results in even more gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Higher traffic damages the highways and streets, creating more demand for repairs and expansions.
While in office, people are less environmentally conscious about switching off lights, air conditioning and computers. Examples of companies that work only remotely and are thriving include Airmeet, Automattic, Tumblr, WooCommerce.
6. The inclination to shift from metros to rural areas
The key reason for residing in big cities is more lucrative career opportunities. For this, individuals have to pay high rents and deal with higher living costs.
With an option of WFH, people can shift away from densely populated areas to more peaceful suburban areas where they probably have the support of family. This way, small towns will also have a more creative workforce, young minds, and more chances for development.
Parallelly, large cities will have more places to breathe, an opportunity to become greener and less polluted with lesser waste. Urbanisation is the reason for 5% of all greenhouse emissions, due to deforestation. Such decentralisation of people improves the quality of life for everyone.
While people have to work remotely right now due to coronavirus pandemic, unexpected positives are bound to happen to the environment. The silver lining here is the positive environmental impact that remote work is bringing about.