A 2016 survey revealed that 43 percent of Americans worked remotely at least some of the time, a four-percent rise since 2012.
Telecommuting is far simpler and more convenient than ever today. Online project-management and communication tools enable employees or freelancers to work at home just as they would in an office.
Building a team of remote workers offers a number of environmental benefits, which is particularly attractive at a time when more businesses are integrating green-friendly practices and techniques into their everyday operations.
How can working remotely help the environment for years to come?
Ease Congestion for a Cleaner Atmosphere
Millions of Americans drive to work every day. Commuting by car is a more convenient option than public transport, yet congestion, delays, and roadworks can all cause massive frustration to employees before their working day has even begun.
With remote working, there is no need to drive to work and back five or more days each week. Instead, you can connect with your company via your laptop from home and be ready to start work brighter and earlier than ever.
The benefits extend beyond employees’ job-satisfaction, too. 119 billion miles of highway driving would be eliminated by working from home at least 50 percent of the time, and 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be cut. This is the equivalent of removing close to 10 million cars off America’s roads for a year.
On top of this, $20 million in gas would be saved around the world.
Cut Consumption of Fossil Fuels
A study by Global Workforce Analytics found that if people with remote-compatible roles worked from home for just half of their working hours, the U.S. would save an extraordinary amount of oil – 640 million barrels, to be exact (equating to $64 billion).
Workers can still keep in touch with colleagues and clients using video chat, eliminating the need to travel for meetings. However, as Tony Zhao the CEO of video chat company Agora.io emphasizes, quality is key:
“Video chat closes any distance between remote workers and their colleagues or clients. Being able to chat face to face retains the intimacy of an in-person meeting, but without the carbon emissions required to travel. However, if the image isn’t clear and stable, everyone can get frustrated.
“This is even more of a risk for businesses working with international employees or clients, as distant internet connections may be less reliable. Using a video chat provider which solves signal-quality issues will ensure clear communication wherever workers are based.”
Reduced Demand for Energy
Offices filled with desk-bound employees depend on energy all day long. Computers have to be switched on and running for at least eight hours, but coffee machines, microwaves, fridge freezers, phone and tablet chargers, and lighting all consume extra electricity five or more days every week.
By increasing the number of employees able to work from home, using their own electricity, everyone will be more conscious of the energy they consume. It’s easy to forget about how much energy you waste when at an office, as the business pays the bills, and working from home reinforces that every cent counts.
Companies with fewer in-house employees can make better use of their offices and energy, even bringing different departments together in one space rather than spreading them out across the work site. Integrate motion-sensors for lights to reduce waste, encourage employees to switch computers off overnight, and try other energy-saving practices to strengthen your eco-friendly practices.
Less Physical Space for Business Sites
A remote workforce translates to a smaller office for businesses. If only a handful of people are actually required to work on the premises, companies may be able to downgrade from a multi-story building to a single office. Not only would this be a reduction in rent, it means lower overheads too, with less energy-expenses.
As businesses adapt to a remote workforce, America’s companies would place less demand on property-development, equating to a reduced impact on our natural habitat. Deforestation could be cut significantly, and ongoing consumption of land resources would be minimized over time.
Enterprises would need to reconsider their approach to management and fostering company culture, but evolving technology offers major environmental benefits that cannot be ignored. Fortunately, this corresponds to savings and reduced overheads too, which should make the prospect of a remote workforce even more palatable.
By embracing online tools which offer instant communication, simple collaboration, and efficient project-management from anywhere in the world, companies have the power to reduce the daily strain we place on our environment. Have you considered how remote work and a green ethos can go hand in hand for your business?