Working From Home
The global pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 has led to a sharp increase of employees working from home around the world. As a significant amount of CO2 emissions stems from commuting to the workplace, home office arrangements can contribute directly to reducing greenhouse gas emission.
In response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people started to work from home which created a new situation for companies, families, and citizens in general. Remote work is a sustainable solution which has potential to mitigate certain aspects of climate change by reducing the environmental impact of commuting to work in cities and rural areas.
Working from home has numerous benefits for employees and employers alike. It can increase productivity, save time and travel costs, provide flexibility for families, and reduce environmental impacts such as less emission from commuting to work and using less office stationery. Therefore, the carbon footprint of home office work is much lower than working from high- capacity offices. Beyond regular daily working activities, people often have to travel to business meetings. Replacing these physical events with virtual meetings, our greenhouse gas emissions can be decreased more drastically.
These changes have direct effect on cities’ fuel and energy consumption, air quality, level of noise pollution, traffic jams, and even on the status of infrastructure. Booming suburbanisation trends caused by the pandemic can also lead to similar benefits together with less daily commutes due to home office.
An average 12% of employed people (20-64 years old) worked from home in the EU in 2020. It’s an approximately 7% increase compared to the past decade. This rate was higher in some regions (e.g., Vienna, Lisbon or Luxemburg) reaching up to 23%-25%. In some eastern and southern regions of the EU, the share of people working from home stood at only around 5%.
Apart from restructured time management, there are other factors of remote working to consider such as:
- Energy footprint
- Transport footprint
- Technology footprint
- Waste footprint
Advantages and challenges
- If we can reduce the use of petrol cars, CO2 emissions can decrease The impact is more significant in those countries where people use older or bigger vehicles, or where road congestion due to traffic jams is more frequent.
- If people work four days per week from home, we can achieve roughly a 10% reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions which is one of the main transport related
- Although digital devices and solutions also require a considerable amount of energy as a result of their production and use, the net environmental impact is still positive and far below the carbon emission generated by
- As a result of remote work and sprawling suburbanisation, densely populated urban areas can reduce local greenhouse gas
- People who move to suburban areas usually buy bigger homes which results in higher energy consumption compared to smaller apartments in the city.
- In some regions and companies culture varies, home office arrangements are less popular which hinder the spread of remote work. Although hybrid work is not considered an ideal solution, it is more beneficial than commuting to work daily.