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The Positive Impact of Remote Work on the Environment

Milica Kostic April 13, 2020

COVID-19 has created an upheaval across the globe. Many business owners took the biggest hit as they were forced to close their companies for now. Many job positions, unfortunately, require stepping out of the house, which left many without a way to earn money from home.

Freelancing, on the other hand, works great for this kind of situation. And it’s not like there are only a few freelancers out there—there are well over 50 million remote workers in the US alone without the influence of global pandemics, and in light of recent events, that number has climbed dramatically.

While many are talking about the negative side of our current situation, there’s an actual benefit to this sudden shift to telecommuting. Namely, the environmental impact of everyone staying at home and working from home could be a much-needed one. What does this impact entail? Here’s the rundown.

Reduced Fossil Fuel Consumption

The US spends a huge amount of fossil fuel. In fact, reports from 2019 revealed that the country used up a whopping 142.23 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline that year. Much of that consumption comes from the daily commute, especially for those who travel long distances. Naturally, such a large amount leads to a lot of gas emissions that create environmental problems.  

But with remote working, commuting doesn’t exist. As such, the telecommuter’s emission rates are far lower than those of the average office employee. And having in mind that the coronavirus has forced most people to work from home, we should see a massive decrease in fossil fuel use in the following months, which is excellent for the environment.

Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions

As a positive side effect of the point mentioned above, the amount of greenhouse gas emitted will go down more than just a little bit. Global Workforce Analytics estimates that remote work reduces as much as 54 million tons of these harmful gases annually. 

That sounds like quite a lot, doesn’t it? Well, it seems like a lot, even more, when you consider that this number applies to work remotely for only half a week. And the fact that people will have to work remotely right now should bring about even better results. 

Leaving the Office

Your typical office needs quite a lot of things to run smoothly. This includes a range of necessities, from power and heat, all the way to office supplies. We know that all of those things are necessary when you’re running a brick-and-mortar business. Still, they are inevitably doing harm to the environment, from deforestation to power consumption.

It becomes easy to imagine how many of these resources telecommuters save. By working from home, they only use what they personally need, which is but a fraction of what’s necessary for any office. Even allowing a single week of remote work every few months can make a huge difference over time. The circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment will do more than that, though.

Access to Eco-Friendly Diets

Most people familiar with the topic of remote work and environmental issues rave about the savings on fuel, fewer gas emissions, and so forth. However, there’s another perk that few of them mention—diet changes and what that means for the environment. 

Eco-friendly diets are becoming more and more popular. Vegetarian, locally sourced, seasonal, organic—all of these are becoming common terms for people looking to improve their diet. These are mostly environmentally sound food solutions, as they don’t feed into large corporations or the cattle industry, which is responsible for about a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions.

So this food is healthy and sustainable, but it doesn’t come cheap. And it’s hardly something that every company would gladly cater to. Luckily, remote workers are more than free to follow this kind of diet. They have the time and means to buy, prepare, and store their food, after all. Therefore, there will be many more opportunities for people to enjoy these foods (assuming it’s easily available at this time).

An Unexpected Benefit to Be Grateful For

The coronavirus pandemic is undeniably a terrible thing. But what we can do (besides being socially responsible and maintaining good personal hygiene) is to look for the silver lining. And one of the unexpected positives we can be happy about is that social distancing has placed emphasis on what’s good for the environment—and remote work is one of those things.

Stakeholder Capitalism
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