Telecommuting has become more and more prevalent since the advent of cloud computing and the internet. Employees and students alike are sitting down in their home office, living room or bedroom to do their jobs and complete their courses.
Beyond the obvious benefits of choosing to attend an online school or deciding to work remotely have to a person’s well-being, telecommuting can also play a large role in saving our environment.
Smaller office buildings with fewer people in them mean less carbon emissions. Energy Star estimates that the typical Midwest office building produces about 37 pounds of CO2 per square foot. The smaller the footage is, the smaller the emissions will be. The less space that has to be cooled, heated, and lit up, the better for the environment. Offices that want to keep employees connected can bring them in one day a week on a rotating basis so they’ll only need desks for 10 employees instead of 50.
With a simple Skype installation, conference meetings are entirely possible and cost effective for even the smallest of companies. Skype can also be used as an instant messaging system to reach across the distance to employees who aren’t working that day. Installing Dropbox or showing employees how to use Google Docs will allow everyone to work on a single project even when they’re not together.
In addition, Americans are spending more time commuting each year than they’re taking in vacation time. They spend an average of 100 hours a year getting to work, according to the Census Bureau. The average passenger car emits about 2.8 grams per mile, and the average truck emits about 3.5 grams, according to the EPA.
If we were able to cut that down to driving to work just one day a week (about 20 hours per year), we could clear up traffic jams, free up employee time and greatly reduce carbon emissions. Zeroing out a company’s carbon emissions is all too often focused only on what is being done in the building itself. Green companies should take a look at what else happens in their employees’ lives to ensure it’s all working together to be environmentally sound.
Apart from the obvious, having employees telecommute can have unexpected, ripple-effect impacts on the environment.
See, telecommuting can also cut down on the amount of fast food employees consume. They’re far more likely to fix something in their own kitchen than to sprint to the nearest McDonalds on their lunch break if they’re already home. This cuts down on the excessive packaging used for the food and the gas used to bring it to that specific location. It even helps your employees spend even less time in their cars.
Replacing all the light bulbs in the office is a great way to start a green movement. Putting a recycling bin in the break room is also a positive step. But telecommuting will always make the biggest positive impact on the environment until we’re all driving hydrogen powered cars.
Article by Joseph Baker.
Joseph Baker’s business experience in management spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.