The Environmental Benefits of Remote Work

Are you working from home on Earth Day? If so, consider your remote work a little contribution to the health of the environment.

Flexjobs recently released data on the environmental benefits of remote work, including case studies of Xerox, Dell, and Aetna. Because remote workers don’t commute, don’t need space in an energy-sucking office, and tend to avoid paper documents, their net effect on the environment is positive.

Global Workforce Analytics estimates the following annual savings if people who had remote work-compatible jobs (and wanted to work at home) worked remotely half of the time:

  • $20 million in gas
  • 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to taking almost 10 million cars off the road for a year).
  • 640 million barrels of oil (worth $64 billion)
  • 119 billion miles of highway driving

In 2014, remote work policies by Xerox, Dell, and Aetna helped them save a combined 95,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to taking 20,000 passenger cars off the road).


Xerox’s Virtual Workforce Program allows employees to work from home, touting the benefits of no commute and more work-life balance. Xerox added over 1,000 remote jobs last year for a total of 8,000 employees working remotely – 11% of its US workers. In the end, remote work saved Xerox employees 92 million miles of driving, 4.6 million gallons of gas, and over 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.


Twenty percent of Dell’s workforce – about 20,000 employees – work remotely, and another 20% occasionally work outside the office. This arrangement saved them almost 7,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to about 16 million fewer miles of driving) in 2014.


A long-time supporter of remote work, Aetna has a whopping 43% of employees who work at home or virtually. In 2014, they saved 127 million miles of driving, 5.3 million gallons of gas, and over 46,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Are you reading this from an office and want to work remotely? Talk up the environmental benefits – or hand your boss a copy of Remote – and that might do the trick.

Image credit: Kim Daniel / Unsplash / CC0

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact
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