The global pandemic increased the number of remote and flexible employment options. Companies initiated the transition to improve humanity’s health and well-being. Over time, environmentalists noticed additional benefits of work-from-home lifestyles.
They found that remote workers have a smaller carbon footprint than individuals who commute to offices. Working from home also influences cultural and social changes, promoting more sustainable lifestyles. More business owners may offer remote or flexible positions after evaluating their ecological impacts.
The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work
Before evaluating the benefits of remote positions, individuals must explore the adverse effects of in-person work. Commuting to and from offices significantly contributes to the enhanced greenhouse effect. The transportation sector produces nearly 7.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Commuting also contributes to biodiversity loss in the form of roadkill. Drivers kill nearly 400 million creatures annually, making commuting a leading cause of animal deaths. Researchers found a correlation between the early transition to remote work and ecological conservation, and are assessing the impacts on biodiversity.
In March 2021, professionals found a 50% decline in hedgehog roadkill reports in Poland. In Spain, Estonia, Israel, and the Czech Republic, researchers noticed a 40% decline in general roadkill rates. They also reported an increase in air quality after individuals began working from home.
Reducing work-related traffic lowered carbon emissions by nearly 17% around the world. Minimizing smog and atmospheric degradation increases society’s health and decreases adverse environmental effects. The social and cultural changes associated with remote work also influence sustainability benefits.
Sustainability Benefits of Remote Work
One challenge associated with sustainability limitations is poor mental health. Generation Z individuals report high rates of loneliness, depression, and suicidal thoughts in relation to the climate crisis. Their emotional and mental struggles leave them feeling hopeless and less likely to engage in conservation efforts.
Researchers found that remote work is improving individuals’ quality of life, decreasing the severity of anxiety and depression. When employees work from home, they spend less time commuting to and from work and more time with their families. In fact, road traffic decreased by 50-75% during the pandemic. Many individuals also moved out of big cities where their offices were to less-populated regions.
Escaping fast-paced urban regions increased individuals’ access to nature and meaningful social connections. Integrating into a new cultural and social experience improves employees’ mental health. When they access more positive perspectives, they may feel more compelled to engage in sustainability-enhancing activities.
Another ecological benefit of remote work is the decrease in paper use. When individuals work from home, they connect to their co-workers and clients using computer systems. The digitization of documents decreases deforestation and improves atmospheric conditions.
Nearly 26% of landfill waste comes from paper and cardboard. Preserving trees is essential to decreasing forced migration and improving natural carbon filtration processes. During photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release pure oxygen. The process purifies polluted air before emissions accumulate in the atmosphere. Decreasing paper production rates and transportation waste also minimizes water pollution.
After evaluating the benefits of working from home, companies can begin designing remote positions.
Creating Remote Positions
Many business owners fear the transition from in-person to remote employment opportunities. However, they can engage in a seamless transition using efficient communication systems and training programs. Digital platforms like Slack and Discord help co-workers connect throughout the day, receiving immediate responses like they would in the office.
Creating accessible and reliable online platforms is also essential. Business owners can hire professionals to develop training videos and workshops, helping employees adapt to a digital work environment. Over time, companies may increase the efficiency of their remote work while shrinking their carbon footprints.