Remote working is gaining popularity with companies encouraging their staff to work from home. Employees can choose between working from home full time or alternating between working in the office and at home.
The gradual migration from corporate work to remote work has varying effects on climate change.
Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of remote working.
The positive effects of remote working on climate change
Significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
One of the advantages of working from home is that it eliminates commuting altogether. You also save a considerable amount of fuel, reducing your carbon footprint.
Your carbon footprint is the total of the amount of greenhouse gases you produce. Gases include methane and carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. The main source of fossil fuel combustion is the transportation sector.
According to The Natural Conservancy, the average American produces sixteen tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. Greenhouse gases have very harmful effects on the environment and the population in general. They cause extreme changes in weather conditions leading to droughts, floods and even tsunamis.
In addition, they contribute to an increase in forest fires and smog. Smog has been linked to respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and even lung cancer.
By telecommuting, you reduce your carbon footprint, thereby minimizing your environmental impact and supporting humanity as a whole.
Reduced paper usage
Businesses are among the main consumers of stationery and paper products: from notebooks to printed papers. The paper industry relies heavily on trees and contributes significantly to environmental destruction and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The paper industries produce greenhouse gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, contributing to the formation of acid rain and pollution. Besides production, waste paper also plays an important role in pollution. Non-biodegradable paper products take years to decompose and can end up in the ocean, causing damage to marine life like turtles.
Telecommuting takes a more digital approach where workers use applications and software to record, store and share information. By adopting note-taking programs and cloud storage software, teleworkers are reducing their paper consumption and carbon footprint.
Improved air quality
Remote work means fewer people are on the road. As already mentioned, the transport sector is among the first producers of greenhouse gases. When people work from home, it means less burning of fossil fuels and better air quality.
Air pollution is a crucial contributor to respiratory illnesses such as asthma, lung and throat cancer, and bronchitis. Big cities like Delhi find it difficult to regulate air pollution due to the large population and the increasing carbon footprint of a rapidly growing middle class.
Less plastic use
How often do you have a quick coffee on your commute? Most restaurants use single-use plastic cups or plastic-based packaging to store your food or drink. Single-use plastic can be a threat to the environment. Without proper disposal measures in place, these plastics can potentially harm wildlife and even marine life, such as turtles.
Plastic is a non-biodegradable substance and takes hundreds of years to break down. Due to its long lifespan, it can present challenges for us and future generations. Working from home helps reduce plastic use as it allows you to use reusable cups, bowls and cutlery, instead of relying on single-use plastic utensils.
Reduced energy consumption
Offices depend on electricity to run machines like computers and air conditioning. Managers rely on work from employee monitoring software to track staff performance and productivity instead of the traditional timesheet method. As a result, they have very high power consumption rates. By working from home, you help reduce extremely high electricity bills and reduce the energy burden on society.
The disadvantages of teleworking
Partial reduction of carbon footprint only
Unfortunately, not all forms of remote working have such useful benefits on climate change. Hybrid working, a form of remote working where employees combine work from home and work in the office, does not completely eliminate the need to travel or the energy consumption habits of office buildings. While the alternation between office and telecommuting can go some way to reducing your carbon footprint, it does not have a significant impact on it.
The other downside to remote working can be in the energy sector. Does teleworking really reduce energy consumption? Thanks to the ever-changing tech industry, more and more people are embracing technology to simplify their lives.
Virtual work is a good example. Instead of driving or taking the bus to and from work to attend meetings or work, we use video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype. We now write whenever we need to make an official communication. All of these devices use electricity.
One person can only use a certain amount of power, but think of all the remote workers in the world, using their computers or charging their work tablets? It is a considerable energy consumption.
Remote working is a net positive for climate change
Remote work is a key player in the fight against climate change. By working from home, you help:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Improve air quality
- Decrease the use of single plastic
- Reduce paper consumption
Even though some remote working models, in particular hybrid working, encourage commuting, thus maintaining certain levels of greenhouse gas emissions, remote working continues to make great strides in reducing degradation. environment and help manage climate change.