Why Are Eco-Conscious Corporations Interested in Remote Work?
Remote work has risen in popularity over the last few years and is maintaining its status for evolving reasons. Primarily, people are noting how it’s better for the environment. Eco-conscious corporations are jumping into remote work life to better align with their values.
Here are a few reasons why they’re interested in digitizing their workforces. Companies should consider several pros and cons when making the leap to remote work.
What Are Eco-Conscious Corporations?
Traditional corporations have various values and goals. They may prioritize making profits or expanding their consumer base to bolster success. Eco-conscious corporations also value those things, but these goals must operate within structures that minimize the company’s planetary impact.
Corporations stand to gain from becoming eco-friendly in many ways, and consumer base increases may be most influential in the decision to go remote. Research shows that 89% of consumers have made minor to complete sustainable lifestyle changes. They want brands that won’t compromise those values, opening a market sector businesses stand to gain from joining.
Is Remote Work Eco-Friendly? 8 Pros and Cons
Corporations that want to attract and retain sustainably minded consumers may become interested in remote work due to these benefits. However, they may also face a few challenges when making the green jump. Here are the most vital points to keep in mind.
Pro: It Eliminates Commuting Emissions
When people think about working a remote position, not dealing with a commute is likely the first thing that comes to mind. Logging on from home gives them hours of their free time back. It also means they don’t have to burn gasoline to drive every day.
Breathe London found that morning and evening emissions fell by 25% and 34%, respectively, when people began working from home. Eco-conscious corporations that let 50 people work from home full time eliminate 50 carbon emissions footprints weekly. The sum can significantly affect the planet, especially if the company has a sizable employee roster.
Con: Home Offices Require Individual Electricity
People need electricity to work from home. They must access Wi-Fi, turn on lights, and use their air conditioning or heating. All those things happen in one location when people work in a commercial office space.
Remote teams transitioning to online work see electricity usage multiply by however many living spaces become full-time home offices. Some workers may prefer to think of this as sustainable consumption because it limits a person’s environmental impact to only essential needs, minimizing their planetary effects. However, power becomes an issue when a company has many employees.
Pro: Digital Work Doesn’t Need Paper
Employees print things every day when they’re in a traditional office. They might need documents before a conference call, copies of a presentation or records in filing cabinets according to company filing policies.
Remote work doesn’t need paper. Everything happens through computers, so waste disappears overnight. Employees can keep their work lives entirely on their computers or use their preferred resources, like physical planners made with recycled paper.
Con: Remote Work Encourages More Water Usage
Offices always have numerous waterlines. They’re necessary for kitchen and bathroom sinks, plus lines to other appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and coffee machines.
Virtual teams use water when working from home, too, but they might increase their water usage in additional ways. Remote workers can do dishes and laundry throughout the day instead of limiting those chores to a few times a week after work hours. It may mean using more water than before, increasing their dependency on the limited natural resource.
Pro: Workers Create Less Product Waste
Going to an office every day creates opportunities for single-use product waste. Employees may stop at a drive-thru for a single-use cup of coffee. The workplace kitchen might have free cutlery with individual plastic wrappers.
Those things aren’t a necessity for remote workers. They can make their coffee at home with reusable mugs and compostable filters. They’ll use their silverware to eat lunch and reusable containers for snacks.
The option to order food for delivery remains when people work at home. However, having immediate access to anything they could need in their kitchens makes remote workers less likely to purchase single-use products that go immediately into the garbage.
Con: Office Furniture Goes to Landfills
When a small business hires only remote workers when it launches, there’s nothing to lose. It’s different when an eco-conscious corporation becomes interested in remote work.
The company likely already has in-person office space in one or more locations. Transitioning to an entirely online workspace leaves those buildings empty. Trash-hauling teams may need to pick up unused furniture and electronics when the business moves out. It may go directly into landfills if the corporation’s leadership doesn’t have time to sell each piece individually.
Pro: Employees Can Make Their Food
Employees don’t always eat the food they bring to the office. They might forget there’s a company-sponsored lunch or free snacks for an upcoming holiday. By the time they get home, the food in their lunch box might not be edible anymore.
Free meals provided by corporations can also be too big for employees who dislike large lunches. Both scenarios result in wasting the natural resources required to prepare food. They contribute to the estimated 30%-40% of waste in the American food supply system, but they don’t have to be an unfortunate part of every worker’s life.
Remote employees can make exactly how much food they want and any kind they prefer while at home. They might even have groceries delivered to reduce impulse buys and eliminate another trip to town that burns gas. It’s another way remote work is eco-friendly and quickly becoming more popular with sustainably minded people.
Con: Home Office Upgrades Create Waste
People may upgrade their home office when they must spend 40 hours or more there weekly. The single-use plastics and styrofoam packaging that come with new furniture pollute landfills after the desks or chairs arrive at the purchaser’s home.
Construction waste could become a new issue as well. Someone may add a room to their house or renovate an existing space to create a home office. The excess waste caused by aerosol cans, unused drywall and leftover paint fills landfills, too. None of that is necessary for in-person work where optimized office spaces are already available.
The Future Is Remote and Eco-Friendly
There are numerous reasons why remote work is eco-friendly. It’s worth noting how it helps the planet and may create new environmental challenges. By understanding both, corporations and their team members can work together to make the least environmental impact when transitioning to fully remote schedules.