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Remote Work and Sustainability

Working from home helps eliminate a great deal of cost and consumption associated with the office. Employees will often save a great deal of time, gasoline, and energy not having to commute to work, and the electricity and other appliances in the office will be utilized less. For some businesses, it has proven useful to get rid of the office space altogether and go 100% remote. The sustainability benefits of working remotely are very tangible and very easy to achieve. This article discusses both what employers and employees can do to create a more sustainable distributed business and workforce..

Employers and Employees Can Be More Sustainable

It can be easy to forget about the sustainability impact of your workforce while they work from home, but firms of all sizes dedicated to sustainability need to follow through with their commitment in the home office as well. The Green Business Bureau has many sustainability initiatives that apply specifically to home workers. Be sure to communicate these initiatives effectively and engage employees to get it done. Collect an average score from all your employees to calculate your overall company GBB EcoScore. You can evaluate your progress using the methods outlined in this article.

What Can Firms Do For Their Employees?

Sustainability at home starts with the employers. Companies and businesses need to drive behavior and encourage all employees to be greener when working from home. But employers should offer services that are green to their employees. Here are some ideas:

Utilize Green Data Centers and Servers

Working from home usually means utilizing the internet, and it often means connecting to workplace servers to access information. Businesses can reduce the carbon footprint of their work from home employees by working with servers that are powered by renewable energy sources. GBB member Web Hosting Canada is a great example. 

Match Employee Donations To Charitable Causes

Employee donation matching is a great way to encourage your employees to become more spiritually fulfilled, and make for a useful deduction in tax season. 

Calculate And Offset Company Carbon Footprint 

Many tools are available online to calculate your carbon footprint, and many firms provide the means to purchase offset credits. Companies should invest in a calculator that they can provide employees.

Coordinate Dedicated Days For Company-Wide Volunteering

Volunteering helps many people find spiritual fulfillment in a world that doesn’t often pay for kindness. Dedicating days off for volunteering emphasizes a genuine commitment to being a force for good in the world. Activities like urban garden work and cleanup projects are also a good opportunity for team building. 

Organize Carpooling For Office Visit Days

Many businesses engaging in work from home have settled into a hybrid system where employees come in once or twice a week, or as needed. On those days when employees are called into the office, a carpooling system can cut down the energy consumption required to get everyone there by half or more. Transit pass reimbursement can also be a viable option to reduce the transportation footprint of your company.

What Can Employees Do On Their Own?

Engaging employees in building their own sustainable workspace is crucial to success in making remote work more sustainable. Revisiting your green mission statement can be a helpful step in making this transition. If your company doesn’t already have a green mission statement, check out this article on getting started with creating one that’s just right.

Add Recycling To Your Home And Know What To Recycle

Recycling appropriate plastic, metal, and glass items is a good way to reduce your waste at home. Recyclable items are typically marked with symbols to help you identify whether they are recyclable or not. 

Add Composting To Your Home And Know What To Compost

According to a 2021 report from The Frontier Group approximately 33% of all U.S. solid waste is compostable, yet only 10% is actually composted. It’s important to know what’s compostable before you start composting. If your city has a municipal composting program, seek out information through their website to find out what’s compostable. If you’re composting at home, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Check out this comprehensive guide on composting by the National Resources Defense Council to learn more about making compost work in your home

Use Organic And Reusable Cleaning Supplies

Replacing paper towels with reusable cloths prevents a great deal of waste and can often be more effective at cleaning surfaces. Similarly, replacing soaps and multi-surface cleaners with organic options can prevent breathing and touching harsh chemicals in the home. 

Reduce Air And Energy Leaks In The Home

There are a number of places where one might find air leaks in their home: a door that doesn’t shut fully, windows with cracks or loose-fitting frames, even around electrical outlets and baseboards. These leaks allow hot or cold air to escape, which can be very costly when using an HVAC system to control the indoor temperature. Fixing these leaks will reduce your energy bill as well as your carbon footprint. Other fixes in the house, like using curtains over windows during the summer to reduce the amount of heat entering the house. 

Install Energy Star Thermostat To Automate And Optimize HVAC System

Energy Star thermostat systems can take the need for manual adjustment out of regulating indoor temperature, and usually save a great deal of energy as well – saving you money while making your life easier. 

Change AC/HVAC Filters Every Month – Or Use Reusable Filters

As HVAC filters accumulate dust, they worsen indoor air quality and require more energy to operate the HVAC system. Regularly replacing the filters, or using reusable filters, is an easy way to reduce your electricity bill and improve your breathing air within your home.

Replace AC With Natural Ventilation And Ceiling Fans

Opening doors and windows oxygenates the home with fresh air, and can sometimes replace energy-intensive HVAC for heating or cooling a home. 

Use Daylight And Energy-Efficient Lights

Just as fresh air can replace HVAC for heating or cooling, daylight can often replace your indoor lighting during the day. The lights themselves can also be replaced with energy-efficient options. LED lights are more energy-efficient and have a considerably longer lifespan than traditional light bulbs. 

Unplug Devices To Reduce Vampire Drain

Devices such as televisions and computers can draw a lot of power even while turned off. Removing them from power by unplugging the power cable will prevent this drain. Keeping devices on a power strip can make this process easier, allowing you to turn multiple devices off at once (make sure to power down computers correctly using the shut down or similar feature in the user interface).

Switch To Renewable Energy Sources

While this is a big investment, it usually pays for itself within a few years. Moreover, this is the one of the greatest change one can make to reduce the carbon footprint in their daily lives. Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly affordable and reliable, especially solar in areas with lots of sunshine. 

Install Water Filter To Replace Bottled Water

Bottled water is one of the least sustainable consumer products on the market. With the manufacturing process behind each bottle typically consuming more water than what the bottle can even hold, replacing bottled water with a home purifier solution saves an incredible amount of energy, water, and natural resources – and money too after some months of not buying bottles. 

CONCLUSION: WORKING REMOTE IS GOOD FOR MOST BUSINESSES AND THE PLANET

Working remotely is a decision that many companies have explored, some have made, and is worth considering or at the very least analyzing. There are an array of different possibilities and benefits of remote work.

  • LESS COMMUTING – Removing the need for employees to commute to an office, enhances the amount of time they have during a day, reduces the amount of energy they spend on commuting, and increases the amount of their salaries they can keep in their pockets.
  • LESS EMISSIONS – Less fuel burning to support commuting has the potential to have a very major impact on our air quality, our reliance on fossil fuels and on climate change.
  • LESS OFFICE BUILDING SPACE – A remote workforce also opens the possibility of companies reconsidering the office space they employ, removing the need to have large office footprints.
  • LARGER POOL OF CANDIDATES FOR HIRING – Working remotely also enables companies to tap into a larger pool of potential candidates from places around the world with different skill sets.
  • MORE DIVERSE WORKFORCE – There’s also an opportunity to create a more diverse workforce by hiring from different demographics, geographical regions and cultures.
  • MORE FLEXIBLE WORK SCHEDULES – You’re also able to give departments and employees more flexible work hours.
  • BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE – This scheduling and office location flexibility improves work-life balance. It also allows employees to move further from the office or to new geographies to lower their cost of living and improve their financial situation.

Bottom line, the remote workforce is here to stay and while it has taken some time to get used to, it’s proving to be a positive change in more ways than one. In fact, it’s a win-win-win. A win for workers, a win for business and a win for our planet.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jacquie Rutkowski says:

    Love this article…useful for employers,employees and generally useful tips for everyone

    • Jane Courtnell says:

      Hi Jacquie,

      Thanks for your comment. We are happy to learn you find our articles useful and informative.

      Kind regards

      Jane

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