Study: Remote Work Can Reduce Carbon Footprint

"Remote workers could have a 54% lower carbon footprint compared to onsite workers," a new study finds.

The benefits of remote work keep rolling in, with a new study discovering that that working from home cuts carbon emissions in half.

From improving work-life balance to earning more money, there's no denying that remote work has generally improved the lives of employees around the world.

Now, it appears the popular workplace perk is also beneficial to the environment, which should give business decision makers pause before enacting any return-to-office mandates.

Remote Work: Could Reduce Carbon Footprint by 54%

A study from peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that “remote workers could have a 54% lower carbon footprint compared to onsite workers.”

On top of that, hybrid workers that are working from home between two and four days per week can cut emissions by between 11% and 29%.

However, when it comes to hybrid workers that are only working one day a week at home, the numbers drop all the way down to 2%, further illustrating that more flexible accommodations are better in the long run.

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Is Remote Work Environmentally Friendly?

By itself, remote work is clearly good for the environment. As the research points out, that office energy use and commute travel β€” two of the primary contributors to climate change β€” decrease dramatically when any employee is fully remote.

However, when considering external factors, the answer gets a bit murkier. Remote and hybrid workers typically move out of big cities, increasing general vehicle ownership and non-commute-related travel. Additionally, remote and hybrid workers typically live in bigger homes and earn more money, which can increase residential energy usage.

“While remote work shows potential in reducing carbon footprint, careful consideration of commuting patterns, building energy consumption, vehicle ownership, and non-commute-related travel is essential to fully realize its environmental benefits.” – PNAS researchers

All in all, there's a lot to consider when it comes to whether or not remote work is actually environmentally friendly, but it's certainly a worthy cause to put in the effort.

Should You Get Rid of Your Flexible Work Policy?

Given the wide range of corporations trying to get employees back in the office, you'd be forgiven for assuming that the popular workplace perk become more of a hindrance than a benefit. After all, if companies like Apple and Amazon are willing to go to battle with their employees over return-to-office mandates, it must be for a good, data-driven reason.

However, many executives have admitted to regretting the decision to rush return-to-office mandates, with a senior vice president from Amazon admitting that there was “no data” to back up the decision for the ecommerce giant.

The reality is that remote work is a boon for employees and employers alike. Studies have shown that companies with flexible arrangements are more productive and attract better talent overall. Just saying, if you're thinking about forcing employees back to their commute, you better have a good reason.

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Written by:
Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.
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