Businesses with employees who work from home need to encourage and help them become more sustainable.
The business world has changed post-pandemic to that which values the greater flexibility and work/life balance that working from home offers. This article will cover the transition to remote work, different areas of sustainability for remote employees, and introduce green initiatives for work-from-home employees from low to high effort and investment.
Switching to Hybrid or Remote Work? Here’s What You Can Do to Be Sustainable Working from Home
Many companies are deciding to either go completely remote or offer their employees the option to work from home for part of the week. This is great for providing flexibility to employees’ lives; however, it can be challenging to maintain and assess your company’s sustainability goals without a physical office. Further, some employees take on sustainability initiatives in their personal lives, going above and beyond to reduce the environmental impact of their homes, and they should be acknowledged and recognized for their efforts. In fact, in calculating a carbon company’s footprint, remote workers need to be considered.
Green Business Bureau has created over 50 work-from-home initiatives that apply to your company whether you are fully remote, a hybrid company working from home part of the week, or a portion of your employees work remotely. These initiatives contribute EcoPoints towards a green business certification and help companies with work-at-home employees reach higher certification levels.
How To Incorporate Sustainability Into a Remote Workforce
It can be a difficult and arduous transition for a company into remote work, especially if there is already a robust sustainability program in place tailored for a physical office. Conversely, some companies have been fully remote from the beginning and may not know where to begin with employees scattered all over the country or world.
Here are some tips to get started with sustainability in your remote or hybrid workplace:
- Create a green team
- Evaluate where you currently stand with sustainability
- Determine the number of employees and the best process to assess their efforts in their home
- Establish goals
- Establish a process to track and achieve your goals
- Become a Green Business Bureau Member to access our full library of over 50 work-from-home initiatives
- Determine what incentives, if any, your company will offer employees to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their homes
Work-From-Home Sustainability Initiatives
Some home sustainability initiatives are easy, such as switching to LED bulbs or opening windows in place of using A/C, while others are more cost and time-consuming such as replacing all appliances with ENERGY STAR-rated or highly efficient alternatives. It’s important that your company has a plan in place so you don’t encourage employees to take on too much too quick;y, which can overwhelm them and potentially turn them away from this endeavor. Roll out work-from-home sustainability initiatives slowly over time, first prioritizing low-effort initiatives and planning for high-effort initiatives down the line to ensure your program is long-lasting with real results. These initiatives will not only make you a more sustainable company overall but also educate and enable your employees to improve their sustainability within their own lives.
When undertaking sustainability efforts in either your office or entire home, you need to consider where your energy comes from and how it is used. It’s easy to leave lights on and common appliances plugged in; however, these small conveniences can add up to significant energy waste over time. You have the potential to make a huge impact by making some changes to how your home receives & uses energy. Here are some sample initiatives.
- Replace all traditional bulbs with LED bulbs throughout your home workspace
- Use ceiling fans and windows in place of air conditioning
- Add shades/window coverings throughout your home to reduce heat gain
- Power your home with on-site renewable energy
- Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat to automate your home HVAC or A/C system
- Purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances for all home office equipment
As access to clean, safe drinking water is becoming increasingly limited, it’s more important than ever to consider and conserve the amount of water you use in your home. By implementing these water-use home sustainability initiatives, you will be taking steps to ensure you, your family, and your community have access to water in the future.
- Switch to low-pressure and highly efficient showerheads and faucets
- Lower the max temperature of your hot water heater from 140 to 120
- Plant native, region-friendly plants in your home garden to minimize the impact on the local habitat and limit the amount of irrigation water needed
- Use a tankless or otherwise highly efficient home hot water heater
- Replace your home’s water-intensive grass with regionally native, climate-resilient ground coverings
Working from home, either fully or partially, significantly reduces your company’s overall carbon footprint since you aren’t traveling to and from work every day. However, you have opportunities to even further reduce your personal emissions with the following initiatives and more.
- When working from an alternative location (not home office) walk or bike
- Use your personal, fossil-fueled vehicle less than 75 miles a week
- Use a fully electric personal vehicle
- Use a hybrid personal vehicle
Consumption & Waste
Besides energy use, your household consumption & waste habits are the most environmentally impactful and the easiest to mitigate with some largely easy-to-implement changes.
- Stop using all single-use plastic kitchen utensils, plates, bowls, and cups
- Stop purchasing single-use plastic water bottles. Install a water filter if necessary
- Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags when shopping
- Properly recycle all household waste according to your local regulations
- Compost your home food waste
Sustainability initiatives for business practices can be harder to implement when employees are remote. The first step is educating your employees about sustainability practices for both home offices and general life. Though it can be challenging to implement a company-wide standard, challenges are a good way to inspire employees to consider their environmental impact and habits, even at home.
- Administer company-wide employee training on sustainability efforts related to home offices and general life practices
- Establish company-wide local community volunteer days and create a company-wide challenge to see who can volunteer in the community at a green event the most throughout the year
- Create a company-wide challenge to use the least single-use items for a month
Green Business Bureau Helps Your Remote/Hybrid Company Become Sustainable
Green Business Bureau has just added over 50 work-from-home initiatives that apply to any company that works remotely in any capacity. Once you sign up, you can view all initiatives, check off what you have already completed, and plan for initiatives you want to implement. Additionally, each initiative has an in-depth description and key steps for implementation. As a general rule, only check off an initiative as complete if 75% or more of your workforce has implemented it.
Here is a sample of what we offer.
Initiative Description and Key Steps
Empower Your Work-From-Home Employees With Sustainability
The world has shifted, and you have met this change by transitioning to a remote work environment. This doesn’t mean your commitment or passion for business sustainability has to stop here, your employees can still steward your company’s sustainability program from work. The initiatives covered above are just a few examples of ways your employees can implement sustainability in their home office and the entire household.
These initiatives are both functional and aspirational. Some are quick and easy ways to immediately improve your business and employees’ household environmental impact while others inspire employees to go the extra mile and truly make sustainability a part of their lives. Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone. Sign up as a Green Business Bureau Member and gain complete access to our full library of initiatives, including over 50 specifically tailored to hybrid or fully remote workforces.