Businesses at the forefront of sustainability are making a shift to greener offices, ergonomic technology, and the most modern approaches to hiring people and organizing their workflow. Since sustainability goes hand in hand with social responsibility, eco-friendly companies also end up being more attractive to job seekers, while retaining top talent, improving productivity, and bottom line.
Sustainable companies are shaping a new normal for work, and one of the arguably most impactful trends is remote work.
Reduce Commute Times
Telecommuting can be at the heart of carbon reduction. More remote work means fewer cars on the highway, lower emissions, and less congested traffic during peak hours.
Today, traffic jams cost the US economy $78 billion a year in lost productivity, idling away three billion gallons of gas and emitting 26 million tons of greenhouse gases, according to Global Workplace Analytics. If traffic keeps growing at the current pace, in the next couple of decades drivers in metropolitan areas will be spending more than eight hours a day in traffic jams.
In the meantime, Sun Microsystems reported that 24,000 of its US telecommuting employees cut down their CO2 production by 32,000 metric tons last year.
Improve Productivity, Retain Talent
Reducing commute times also translates into happier workers who can save 2-3 hours on daily commutes and balance their work-life schedules. A flexible workforce also allows companies to add and reduce staff quickly and maintain a 24/7 worldwide coverage, while the need to over-staff “just in case” is minimized.
80 percent – 90 percent of the US workforce would like to telework, while 24 percent are willing to take a pay cut of up to 10% to be able to telecommute two days a week.Workers who control their working environment (the smells, temperature, background sounds) are more focused than those who have to tolerate their coworkers’ passion for the excessive use of perfume, or nonstop chatter.
Flexibility in lunchtimes, in the way employees sit at their computers – or ability to work outdoors – has a positive effect on workers’ productivity, too. It’s no surprise then that telecommute perks yield better productivity, energy, and higher talent retention.
BT found that happy employees tend to stick around and be more productive as allowing just 16 percent of its employees to work remotely contributed to a 20 percent rise in the company productivity.
Minimize Absences Due to Extreme Weather Conditions
Flexible at-home employees can work regardless of extreme weather conditions when snow or rain paralyze traffic. As many as three-quarters of telecommuters say they could keep working in the event of a disaster, compared with 28 percent of non-teleworkers.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the five-year cost of introducing telework throughout government ($30 million roughly) is three times less the cost of lost productivity from a single day when federal offices in Washington DC were shut down due to snow ($100 million).
Cut Down on Overhead Costs
At the office, equipment energy consumption rate is twice that of the equipment employees use at home. Just think of the miles of overhead lights and hibernating office computers that are still on long after everyone’s gone home.
The very nature of telecommuting urges remote workers to rely on cloud storage, email, and PDF documents instead of paper. Companies whose employees work remotely part of the time reduce the endless supply of paper, storage room, and office space, also contributing to smaller consumption of plastic-packaged convenience food and drink.
If employees with telework-compatible jobs worked from home half the time, the national savings would be over $700 billion a year:
- A typical business would save $11,000 per person a year.
- A telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000 a year.
- The CO2 reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire workforce of New York State off the road.
- Many companies in digital marketing, SaaS, and design are in a position to go full-in with remote work, salvaging resources for other needs, or reducing the service cost to their customers.
Promote a Healthy, Inclusive Culture
More than 60 percent of employees go to work when they’re sick and contagious mostly because they don’t have sick days left or can’t afford to use them. Working from home when sick allows people to save energy on stressful and tiresome commuting and invest it in work.
This is especially true if your next perfect hire is in a wheelchair, bedridden, pregnant, has social anxieties, lives too far from your office or is otherwise difficult to accommodate. Remote work opens opportunities otherwise inaccessible for companies to tap into a much larger – and more affordable – pool of talent living in remote rural areas or even abroad. Let’s not forget about reducing office gossip and the irritation it produces in crowded offices.
The bottom line is remote work is more than just about rewarding employees or cutting down the costs. It’s about creating a sustainable long-term business strategy that’s in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the future of the planet.