Working from home isn’t just about the productivity or lifestyle. It turns out that working from home is also good for the environment. Here are five examples of how employees protect the environment by working from home.
1. Skipping the Commute Saves Gas.
Okay, let’s get the obvious environment-saving benefit out of the way. When you work from home, you save the unspent hydrocarbons in your gas tank for more worthwhile adventures. In fact, the Washington Post reported that the average American commute in 2014 lasted a record-breaking 26 minutes. For those of us who live in the suburbs, the old commute took hours out of our day, and put tons of pollution into the air. Working from home helps environmentally conscious companies minimize the impact on our atmosphere.
2. Offices Consume Natural Resources.
The typical office is full of equipment that work-from-home employees don’t need. For instance, consider cubicle walls. Even small offices contain hundreds of square feet of wood particles held together with glue and covered with petroleum fiber. Offices often don’t pay the premium for cubicles made from renewable resources. Desks, chairs, and conference room furniture is the same way. Also, many workers already have an office space in their home. That means that companies’ on-site office accoutrements are redundant. Working from home decreases our consumption of natural resources.
3. Offices Create More Waste.
Eventually, offices must dispose of all the extra resources they use. While some office furniture and other infrastructure are compostable or recyclable, much of it still ends up in landfills. This includes electronic waste. Computers, copiers, printers, projectors, and other devices contain harmful elements. As a result, toxins like lead, lithium, and bromine find their way into the environment. Green companies can restrict how much electronic waste they create by letting employees work from home. This decreases costly expenditures on shared equipment. Virtual tools can generally perform the same functions without the added waste.
4. Working from Home Uses Less Energy.
It takes a lot of electricity to illuminate, heat, and cool an office building. Much of that demand is filled by power plants burning nonrenewable coal or oil. Meanwhile, employees are already managing their homes’ climate whether they work from home or not, so office climate control is superfluous. Companies can reallocate what they would spend on climate control back into the company itself, or increase salaries—all while decreasing their energy footprint.
5. Digital Files Are Better for the Environment.
Telecommuting makes hard copies impractical. Consequently, companies with a significant work-from-home employee base tend to use digital files much more effectively than office-bound competitors. This prevents millions of trees from winding up in archive rooms and landfills every year. Hence, working from home contributes to forest conservation.
The Bottom Lines
When employees work from home, companies cut carbon emissions, waste fewer natural resources, and conserve electricity. They save money, too. Best of all, environmentally savvy employees get control over their impact. Workers can choose how much energy they need. They have more choice over what kind of coffee cup to use and whether or not they really need to print out a document. In short, companies can demonstrate their commitment to being responsible global citizens by allowing employees to work from home.