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Why is Remote Work Key to Meeting Sustainability Goals

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Emily Newton's picture
Editor-In-Chief Revolutionized Magazine

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. She enjoys writing articles in the energy industry as well as other industrial sectors.

  • Member since 2020
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  • May 19, 2022
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The green revolution is affecting various global industries. Environmentalists identified a new sustainability approach during the COVID-19 lockdown, which influences decarbonization goals. The work-from-home trend significantly decreased greenhouse gas emissions, surface-level pollution and smog.

Biodiversity flourished during the lockdown, and employees’ productivity rates increased. Business owners are maintaining remote work options to meet eco-consumers’ demands and support workers’ mental health. Companies can effectively shrink their carbon footprints by creating hybrid work environments.

Why Should Individuals Make Remote Work Sustainable?

The United Nations (UN) created the Paris Agreement in 2015 to hold global society responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. It calls upon all individuals to make sustainability strides and reduce climate change effects.

Companies are also setting their own sustainability goals to support eco-consumers. Corporations like Coca-Cola plan to reduce emissions and municipal solid waste (MSW) with recycled bottles. The company is striving for 50% usage by the next decade.

Other businesses are setting general emission reduction goals to support the Paris Agreement. Individuals are adopting remote or hybrid workstyles to reduce transportation emissions, energy waste and material pollution. Companies can improve sales when they make remote work sustainable.

Researchers discovered over one-third of consumers will pay more for sustainable goods and services. Businesses can gain a leg up on competitors by shrinking their carbon footprints soon. Remote work offers various ecological benefits, which improve companies’ sustainability rates.

Reducing Transportation Emissions

The most significant environmental benefit of remote work is traffic decongestion. The transportation sector produces 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Commuting traffic significantly increases tailpipe pollution.

Researchers calculated an average 26% emission reduction during the lockdown. They also noticed declining roadkill rates. Decreasing transportation pollution can improve biodiversity and human health.

People in high pollution regions may experience respiratory problems. Most offices are in metropolitan areas with large-scale transportation systems. Working from home decreases employees’ exposure to emissions and risk for lung cancer, asthma and other conditions.

Business owners evaluated the environmental and health effects of transportation and increased remote work opportunities.

Decreasing Office Space

Commercial buildings use nearly 35% of the U.S. electricity supply. Fossil fuels produce the largest quantity of electricity worldwide, and they generate greenhouse gas emissions during the combustion phase.

Office buildings rely on energy-intensive appliances like desktop computers, lights, heaters, copy machines, refrigerators, projectors and other items. Remote work decreases the need for large office buildings. Employees can conduct projects, presentations and meetings from a singular device at home.

Shrinking office spaces may significantly reduce energy-related emissions. Employees can also improve their home offices’ sustainability by adding highly efficient appliances. They may reduce their lighting emissions by installing light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LEDs are nearly 85% more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights. They also last longer and produce less MSW over time.

Improving Freshwater Conservation

Freshwater waste is a significant sustainability limitation in commercial buildings. Offices in the U.S. use about 9% of the freshwater supply. Companies can cut their use by increasing remote and hybrid work opportunities.

People may also reduce resource exploitation from home by installing smart conservation devices. Environmental engineers developed autonomous sprinkler systems using the Internet of Things (IoT). The systems improve irrigation precision using sensors and real-time weather predictions.

Employees can also install water monitoring devices to increase their consumption awareness. The systems autonomously track individuals’ usage patterns and distribute information to their smartphones. Residents can easily interpret their data through digestible charts and graphs.

Conserving freshwater is essential to meeting sustainability goals. Only 0.5% of the water on Earth is available for consumption, so reducing exploitation can preserve clean resources for future generations.

Minimizing Disposable Materials

A significant amount of MSW in office spaces comes from disposable materials. Most employees cut corners in workplace kitchens by using paper plates and plastic utensils. However, manufacturing single-use materials produces emissions and creates surface-level pollution.

Single-use plastic materials can also contribute to microplastic pollution after reaching landfills. Stormwater can carry degraded plastic pieces to the ocean during storms, and marine species may consume microplastics and experience digestive, growth and mental abnormalities.

Employees can use metal and porcelain kitchen materials when working from home. They may also reduce food waste remotely by eating leftovers during their lunch breaks. Individuals can additionally target electronic waste when working remotely.

Employees may also have limited access to electronic repair services in the office. Remote workers can take their damaged devices to restoration stores to minimize waste.

Enhancing Paper Conservation

Companies can also reduce waste by creating a digital workspace and hybrid work environments. Going online is significantly more sustainable because it reduces paper waste. Paper production creates greenhouse gas emissions and minimizes natural carbon filtration processes. Manufacturing facilities release nearly 942 kilograms (kg) of carbon when producing 1 ton of paper. 

Companies can also increase their compatibility with modern practices by digitalizing their work. Using electronics instead of paper additionally decreases deforestation. Individuals destroy over 15 billion trees each year, and paper companies contribute to clear-cutting and habitat destruction. Businesses can minimize biodiversity and vegetation loss by eliminating paper usage.

They may also support atmospheric conservation by conserving vegetated spaces. One tree can absorb and filter about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Making Individual Sustainability Strides

Individuals can shrink their carbon footprints by reducing their energy use and resource exploitation. Remote employees have more time to devote to sustainable actions at home. They may conserve energy by setting efficient indoor temperatures and changing their clothes to warm up or cool down.

Remote workers can also decrease their energy-related emissions by installing photovoltaic solar panels. Replacing fossil fuel power for solar energy significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 

People may also shrink their carbon footprints by adopting low-impact diets. Meat production degrades the environment and lowers consumers’ sustainability levels. Remote employees can prep vegan meals from home to shrink their footprints.

Beginning to Make Remote Work Sustainable

Companies can make remote work sustainable by monitoring their employees’ emissions and MSW. Business owners may create monthly sustainability goals to motivate workers and engage them in conversation. They can also reward them for reducing emissions by providing financial compensation.

Businesses may promote sustainable remote work by developing a pollution reduction presentation. They can help employees identify energy-intensive appliances and behaviors to minimize waste. Increasing individuals’ awareness of pollution can significantly improve conservation efforts

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