It isn’t uncommon to hear about how much working from home has environmental benefits—and on its face, this claim makes a lot of sense. We did have to wonder, however, how much greener remote work really is—if at all.
Let’s go into why the question of whether remote work is the environmentally friendly option isn’t as clear-cut as you might expect.
It all has to do with carbon impacts, and how the ones generated by in-office work compare to the ones generated by working from home.
Why Remote Work Doesn’t Eliminate Carbon Emissions by Default
You might assume that, since remote work eliminates the commute, it is automatically more environmentally friendly than in-office work. Unfortunately, the truth isn’t so straightforward.
This is because there are more considerations to take into account than just gas mileage that can contribute to the environmental impact that work has. Indeed, there are numerous factors that can either support or disprove the idea that remote work is the more environmentally friendly option. On the beneficial side, remote work eliminates the commute, saving a significant amount of carbon emissions from being released. For instance, April 2020’s emissions were reduced by 17% globally as compared to April 2019’s highest levels—however, it must be said that emissions have come back up to close to what they once were, despite many still working remotely.
There are other challenges, too, many of which are easy to overlook.
When your team members are working remotely, they’re likely going to be working from home. This means that they’ll be using more electricity in their individual homes combined as compared to the shared resources in the office. Plus, you need to consider how this electricity is being generated by the power company. Is the power plant relying on renewable energy sources, or are they relying on fossil fuels in order to create the electricity they sell?
A similar question can be asked about the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needed in the office as compared to how it is used in the home. Again, it all comes down to how the energy needed to support these needs is being delivered, and how efficient it is for you to control the environment in your shared business location as compared to each of your team members managing their own homes.
Increased Hardware Needs
Unless you equipped your team with laptops and other mobile-friendly devices from the start, enabling remote work may require you to invest in more devices to support their work activities. Not only does this increase their energy usage, as described above, but also generates more waste materials through the manufacturing process and e-waste when it comes to replacing more hardware when the time comes.
So, in short, determining if remote work is really worth it, environmentally speaking, is far more complicated than just totaling up the miles not driven.
Don’t Get Us Wrong: Remote Work is Still a Good Thing
There are enough other reasons to adopt remote work that it is still something that businesses should seriously consider, especially as a part of a hybrid work structure to support business continuity planning…and Dresner Group is here to help you do so.
Give us a call at (410) 531-6727 to learn more.