3 ways remote work can save the environment

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More and more businesses are taking steps to become more environmentally friendly (Microsoft and Ernst & Young pledging to go carbon neutral to Starbucks cutting its plastic usage…) and this can only be a good thing. However, this might give the false impression that only large, multinational corporations can make an impact on sustainability. In reality, all businesses can become more sustainable by simply implementing one tiny change: increase remote working programs.

Research shows that flexible workspaces and policies benefit the environment in more ways than one might think. Over the last two years, it’s become clear that flexible workspace programs can benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy consumption.

Companies are at a crossroads to instill sustainability messaging in their corporate strategy, but there are various small changes we can make globally to make a large impact. And with global demand for flexible workspace having grown by 50% in the last 5 years while supply has grown 15% year on year since 2013, there is an opportunity to set a new standard of efficiency and sustainability in the workspace.

Here are 3 ways more companies can reduce their carbon footprint and increase sustainability within their organizations in 2020 and beyond.

Cut employees commute and eliminate billions of tons of greenhouse gases The US generates about five billion greenhouse gases annually, some of which happen during
daily commutes. Alone, idling cars use around three billion gallons of gas, which is equivalent to 26 million tons of extra greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Big picture – if all employees in the U.S. who held remote-compatible jobs (about 50% of the workforce) and wanted to work remotely (about 79% of the workforce) did, greenhouse gases could be reduced by 54 million tons. If they worked remotely 100% of the time, greenhouse gases could be reduced by 108 million tons.

Even thinking smaller scale helps; offering options for remote work even a few times a week would cut emissions at a national level. Just a 10% reduction in office work hours results in a 15% decrease in a person’s carbon footprint. Stop renting space no one is using.

Coworking solutions offer a straightforward solution to cutting excess real estate and energy usage, ultimately reducing the need for new construction as well as minimizing the
environmental costs of relocation.

A nine-to-five job is no longer the norm for most employees, and today’s workforce consists of a combination of remote workers, commuters, and executive travelers. It is estimated that desks are only occupied 50% to 60% of the time. This type of inefficiency translates to wasted energy for lighting, heating, and air conditioning, in addition to other office staples, such as running computers, printers, and copy machines. So why are companies continuing to rent out large offices for employees who aren’t even there?

What’s more, commercial real estate needs are rapidly changing in today’s world, and whether businesses need to scale up or to downsize, it costs the environment in major ways. In big cities, new construction is being built every day and it is estimated that new construction projects consume 40% of the world’s raw materials, and generate 38% of carbon dioxide emissions.

Get on board with a green business strategy or risk becoming irrelevant

We live in the Information Age, and awareness of climate change and global warming are top of mind for consumers and companies alike. There’s a greater demand to put sustainability at the center of businesses, and consumers are more willing to pay for products and services from companies with eco-friendly practices. The result? Companies that neglect social responsibility and fail to incorporate sustainability into their corporate strategy will become irrelevant in our climate-conscious society.

Christophe Garnier is CEO and co-Founder of Upflex, a coworking solutions platform helping businesses become more sustainable every day.