Another Benefit of Remote Work: It’s Better for the Planet

Laptop Outside
Image Credit: Pexels / Lukas

As greater numbers of organizations and employees embrace remote work, we’re witnessing an unexpected but not unwelcome consequence: a healthier environment.

Remote Control

Going remote is “the future of work.” As of February 2017, 43 percent of American works spend at least some time working remotely, according to The New York Times report on a Gallup survey. This is great news for employers, as more than two-thirds of managers report an increase in overall productivity from their remote employees due to a lack of office distractions and the lack of an often lengthy commute. In fact, according to Inc., “91 percent of people who work at home are more productive than at work.”

Not only that, but teamwork and collaboration actually improves when employees are working remotely. A study undertaken by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that, “the results surpassed even our expectations…93 percent of our team reported that collaboration—a serious concern at the outset of the pilot—was better than before.

Additionally, a 2014 study by software company PGi found that 80 percent of remote workers reported higher morale, 82 percent said remote working helped lower their stress levels, and 69 percent reported lower absenteeism.

More good news for employers, telecommuting helps reduce operating costs: Aetna reportedly shed 2.7 million square feet of office space due to embracing a remote work policy, and as a result saved $78 million. And American Express reported saving $10-15 million annually thanks to its telecommuting policies.

Other costs that can be avoided or reduced include office supplies, furniture, equipment, coffee and janitorial services.

Remote work also benefits employees. Aside from getting to choose where they work, “80 percent reported a better work-life balance,” according to the Forbes report.

Lower costs, better teamwork, and happier, more-productive employees? This remote work thing is already a win-win!

But there are other benefits to working remotely, for employees, employers… and everyone else.

Captain Planet Would Work Remotely

If you’ve ever spent minutes – or hours – stuck in rush-hour traffic, engine idling while you wait for the gridlock to move another inch, you can understand one of the reasons why working remotely is better for the environment; When your car’s engine is idling and you’re not moving, you’re getting zero miles to the gallon, burning gas to go nowhere.

Remote workers, on the other hand, aren’t commuting to head office, meaning they’re hopefully not sitting in traffic, wasting gas and pumping out carbon dioxide.

And according to FlexJobs, due to the rise in the number of remote workers, 54 million tons of greenhouse gasses have been withheld from the atmosphere, and 640 billion barrels of oil have not been burned.

A real-life example: In 2014, Dell reported that with 20 percent of their 20,000 person workforce working from home or remotely, and another 20 percent working outside of the office occasionally, their employees alone saved almost 7,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent to almost 16 million miles less being driven annually.

Employing remote workers also mean there’s no need for more office space, and the growth of remote work means less need for construction and development, another unlooked for environmental benefit.


Can remote benefit business and the planet? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.