Is remote working more eco-friendly than commuting?

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Working remotely became a part of everyday life for many people all over the world during the last couple of years. Since lockdown restrictions eased, there has been a push to get people back into the office and return to the way things used to be. The journey to work, whether it be by public transport or your own car, doesn’t suit everyone and has a severe effect on the environment.

With lockdowns across the globe forcing people to spend more time at home, the amount of petrol and diesel carbon emissions saw an obvious drop, since very few people were using their vehicles to go anywhere. Cutting those emissions put us a tiny step in the right direction to being more eco-friendly in our day-to-day lives.

Now, bosses and managers want us back on the road, getting into the office. But maybe we need to stop for a second and ask ourselves: is this the right step to take?

The effect on carbon footprints and emissions

With people driving less and huge office buildings not using as much electricity, you’d think that emissions as a whole would see some reduction. Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. A number of studies carried out supported the findings that, with home working in effect, emissions were seeing a steady and healthy decline.

An analysis from the IEA (International Energy Agency) revealed to us many interesting insights into the effect that the worldwide shift to remote working had on emissions. Based on their findings, if everyone (who was able to) worked from home for just one day a week, it could roughly save 1% of global oil consumption per road passenger per year. That may not sound like a lot, but to put it another way, that’s an annual decline big enough to match the bulk of Greater London’s overall annual emissions.

Even with the extra energy consumption from people staying at home and using the heating for longer, the overall reduction is clearly visible. It may not be a huge landslide reduction, but even a small step in this direction is a good result. If workers were able to operate remotely for at least 3 days a week, the reduction in emissions would be immense.

So how else can we reduce our emissions?

The studies are there, and the numbers all seem to agree that working from home is absolutely more eco-friendly than using our cars to travel to work every day, especially when looking at those who travel more than a couple of miles to get to and from work. But cutting out the commute doesn’t go far enough to help reverse the drastic effects of climate change. 

Both employees and employers have a shared responsibility to limit the environmental impacts that businesses are having on the planet. Whether you’re working from home or in the office, there are eco-friendly decisions you can make every single day at work. With everyone pulling in the same direction and taking sustainable action, we can help to provide a better future for our planet.

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Hubert Day

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