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The environmental impact of remote work

by Saïd Zouaghi | November 27, 2019

A lot has been written about the benefits of remote work, both for companies and individuals. One topic that has received considerably less coverage but is increasingly important in the current context is the environmental impact of remote work. In the UK and the US, and in many other parts of the world, transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The remote work revolution is playing its part in reducing emissions, slowing down climate change and building a healthier environment for future generations.

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Although a controversial measure, the governor of Massachusetts is proposing fiscal benefits for companies who promote remote work in order to curtail gridlock in and around Boston, reduce the carbon footprint that goes along with it as well as alleviate pressure on over-exerted public transportation systems.

In the Philippines, the Department of Labor and Employment recently passed a Telecommuting Act to promote and support the booming remote work industry in the country. Although the law does not force companies to offer flexible work arrangements, it shows the government’s faith in the positive impact of remote work and “also targets to address traffic congestion and its tremendous effect on the country's economy.” in cities like Manila, known to have some of the worst congestion on earth.

These government-sponsored benefits are great, and we should expect to see more of them in the near future. However, each individual company has a responsibility to consider sustainability when assessing whether there are real, compelling business reasons to staff any new position in a brick-and-mortar office 5 days a week.

At 5CA, our community of remote workers collectively avoids yearly emissions of around 600 tons of greenhouse gasses (according to the EPA method) compared to office workers. That’s the equivalent of 123 cars being taken off the road. In order to offset this theoretical carbon footprint, we would need to plant 15,000 tree seedlings grown over 10 years!

But the direct impact on greenhouse gasses is only part of the story. Avoiding the commute also helps our remote workers reduce traffic congestion, wear and tear on vehicles and costs related to traffic accidents (+$100,000 per year!), not to mention all of the non-environmental benefits remote works brings.

Need arguments to implement a remote work policy at your company? You’re welcome. 😊

Saïd Zouaghi

Saïd Zouaghi

Our Work From Home Program Manager Saïd works from his home in sunny Mexico. He is a fervent believer in the Remote Work Revolution as a means to connect companies with the most talented individuals, regardless of their location, while improving work-life balance and empowering workers in developing countries. In his time off, he enjoys scuba diving, chess, football, and open world video games.

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