One of the biggest arguments for remote work is that it poses environmental benefits, but how much truth is there to this statement? Today, we want to dive into the details and see if there is actually a solid benefit to working remotely—for the environment, at least. The answer might surprise you.
Remote work does remove the commute, and you’d think that this is enough to move the needle toward a more environmentally friendly working solution, but the answer isn’t that clear. There are other factors which also play into carbon emissions, more than gas mileage. There are numbers that could sway your opinion in either direction. On one hand, a look at April 2020’s emissions showed that they were reduced by about 17% worldwide compared to the prior year, but as you might imagine, those numbers have come up once again, even with people still working remotely.
Here are some other challenges which can complicate whether or not remote work is a more environmentally friendly approach.
Even when your employees are working remotely, they are consuming electricity—just not from your office. In fact, their combined homes will likely use more electricity compared to your office. And how exactly is this energy being generated, anyway? Is it an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, or are the providers relying on fossil fuels? You can see how the answer gets a little murkier.
The same thing can be said about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. How much energy is being used to keep homes warm, cool, and ventilated, and how are these solutions being delivered? It’s easier for your business to control the office’s thermostat and impact the environment from one location compared to your workforce doing so from several different places.
Laptops and mobile-friendly solutions are great for making your business more mobile, but if you haven’t already equipped your team with this technology, then you will have to procure it for them before the big shift to remote work. This means that there will be more waste created as a result of more technology being introduced to the world through the manufacturing process. And, of course, you can’t forget about e-waste, which is a big problem in its own right.
We don’t want to say that remote work is bad by any means, but whether it’s bad for the environment is actually up for debate, and the issue is not as clear-cut as you might think at first glance.
There are plenty of great reasons to implement a remote work policy, but just understand that your primary one is probably not going to be to save the environment. A remote or hybrid work strategy can actually be remarkably effective, provided you have thought the whole thing through. Virtual Business Solutions can help you with this step. To learn more, reach out to us at (504) 840-9800 ext. 105.