Seven Ways Telecommuting Helps the Environment

Have you ever met anyone who loves commuting? It’s hard to think about anything more stressful and inconvenient than struggling through traffic, breathing lousy air, and listening to the inane banter of drive-time radio. But there is a better way; a more relaxing way to begin your workday.

By working remotely, we at Virtira have opted for a more relaxing, stimulating approach to commuting: we work wherever we want!  Not only does this allow us to get the best talent, it lets our people balance their lives and work in a way that works best for them and their families. Remote work is also good for our planet.

Here are seven critical ways that a remote workforce can help our good old over-stressed, over-taxed, and overloaded Mother Earth:

Less gas

Hundreds of millions of people drive to work every day. Of course they do, how else can they get to work to put bread on the table? For the world economy to function, workers must be able to get from A to B. But not remote workers. We’ve figured out how to avoid the chaos of the commute.  We can work from home, from a public space like a neighbourhood coffee shop, even in a beautiful park or high up at Everest Base Camp.

A study made by Flexjobs found that if those US workers whose roles allowed them to work remotely, telecommuted from home two days per week, it would result in a 52 million gallon reduction in gasoline use in a month! That also would reduce the number of pipelines, refineries, ships, and tanker trucks needed to service the oil industry. That money could be spent instead on green projects and updating public transit, further decreasing our dependence on non-renewable resources.

Lower carbon emissions

WebEx wanted to find out what the environmental impact of remote work would be. They based their figures on what would happen if those jobs that could be done remotely were done so half of the time. The result was a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions of 54 million tons annually. That savings is the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road!

Think of the cause and effect: fewer cars on the road means less stress for those drivers still on the streets and improved air quality for all. Fewer cars on the road means fewer accidents. Roadwork would be less of an inconvenience as infrastructure repairs wouldn’t be needed as frequently (in northern cities they say there are two seasons: winter and construction, ha ha).  Incidences of respiratory illness will also be curtailed. There’s so much to gain!

Less paper and plastic waste

If you’ve ever worked in a busy office, you’re no doubt aware of all the waste that is produced and all the paper that’s needlessly tossed aside. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Co-workers see each other engage in bad habits and ignoring things like recycling quickly becomes second nature.

But those who work from home have more skin in the game; more reason to conserve. Remote workers have a financial incentive to save paper and produce less garbage. If you’re the one paying for items like pens, paper, and toner, you aren’t going to be so careless with them, are you?  It also bears mentioning that those who work from home are unlikely to purchase take -out fast food for their lunch with all the packaging that option entails. Think about this article from next time you’re about to toss away another piece of plastic. We all need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Less office space needed

Company offices are also a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. If a company has a large percentage of its staff working remotely, they can save incredible amounts of money that can go directly to their bottom-line. They will save on land and rent outlays, heating and air-conditioning costs and their maintenance costs will drop.

Dell, Aetna and Xerox all are dedicated to remote work practices and all have benefited in terms of profits, their worker’s productivity and the environmental impacts which resulted have been impressive, to say the least. As more companies get on the telecommuting bandwagon, we can expect a snowballing effect, letting nature cope more easily with the demands of modern civilization.

Less energy

Sun Microsystems did a study a while back which found that a home office uses only half the energy of a traditional office. Machines at the Sun offices used 130 watts per person each hour while a home office’s equipment used only 64 watts per hour. That’s significant, especially given the huge electrical needs of our planet during the uber-hot summer months.

The study also found that a remote worker’s carbon footprint shrank by an incredible 98% while they worked at home. Most of that savings was due to their skipping their daily commute.

Another reason for the lower energy use is because there are fewer distractions while working remotely. People can really focus on their tasks and complete them in less time and with better results, resulting in less time in front of their screens. Love that!

Fewer business trips

One of the best advantages of telecommuting is that business trips across town, across the country or overseas are often unnecessary. No long plane, train, and automobile trips. Why waste valuable time and massive amounts of resources to attend a meeting in person when you can conduct that same interaction online? Check out our recent blog on how to conduct and attend virtual meetings in the most professional manner possible.

More free time to help our environment

Eliminating the need for a twice-daily trip to work as well as working more productively and quickly at home gives telecommuters more free time. People who are already helping our Mother Earth by working remotely will be more likely to “double-down” on activities that will ensure a better environmental future. Good habits are contagious: passing them along to our friends, family, and neighbours is just as important as taking care of our own little corner of the world.

How Virtira has Helped the Environment

We were curious as to what our company has been able to do in terms of helping the environment. After all, we are a company of remote workers who don’t use cars to get to work!

To quantify our impact, we checked with the government of Canada’s (our home base) 2016 Census. According to this census, the average Canadian takes an average of 26.á2 minutes to commute to work, travelling an average distance of 22.8 km twice daily. Don’t commute, we have been able to save a great deal of time, money, and natural resources. Here are the net savings from daily telecommuting by Virtira staff in 2018.

Greenhouse gas emissions lowered by 178, 558 kilograms

    • Energy savings of 239,928 kilowatt hours
    • Vehicle kilometers travelled down by 711,360

Virtira telecommuting has reduced total commuting kilometers by the equivalent of going around the world 75 times! By working from home, Virtira GHG emissions have been reduced by almost 1 million Kg or the equivalent of burning 340,000 liters of gasoline.

If you want to see the effects that telecommuting can bring to your company and our planet, try the calculator created by Global Workplace Analytics.  It’s guaranteed to be an eye-opener and will get you thinking about the undeniable benefits to remote work.


Employees: Try the calculator:

In Summary

A remote workforce offers incredible benefits for our increasingly fragile environment. In our hot, crowded, polluted modern world, we need to take steps to reverse the damage that we have done to our planet, our home.

We know how fantastic remote work can be for our clients, our people, and our profitability. To learn more about remote work and how you and your business can also benefit, drop us a line.New call-to-action

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