Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Rubbish from A to Z: R is for Remote Working
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Rubbish from A to Z:
R is for Remote Working
Employees across the globe are adjusting to remote working thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, and although it can be a tough logistical and emotional transition, the move from office working to working from home appears to be doing wonders for the environment.
For decades now, and particularly in recent years, there have been some environmental issues that have been at the forefront of our minds. From greenhouse gas emissions to overreliance on fossil fuels and plastic pollution, they have never been far from the headlines.
But since many millions have stopped commuting and businesses have closed their doors, the headlines have been quite different. Now we’re reading about better air quality, less greenhouse gas emissions, and certain species flourishing.
So does remote working have benefits for the environment? It definitely seems so. Here’s how.
Less driving means less carbon emissions
Transport makes up about 23% of total carbon emissions across the globe. Carbon emissions are lower in many countries now, especially in those that have introduced lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Remote working means less air pollution
Transport and the operation of some workplaces like factories and plants contribute to air pollution. The reason for this is that cars and chimneys can emit nasties like nitrous oxides, volatile organic compounds, and other matter that can both damage the ozone layer and public health. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, in particular, has been shown to cause asthma and other respiratory problems.
The reduction in people using transport and the closure of factories has seen an improvement in air quality in countries like Spain, Italy, and China, where the amount of ‘good’ quality air days has increased by over 11% compared with the same time last year.
People use less energy working from home
Of course, if you are sitting at home using a computer all day, then you’re having a Netflix binge and you’ve got all of your appliances going, you’re going to use energy. But you’ll still use less energy than if you were sat in a huge office building.
Not only that, when you are working from home, but you also have a vested interest in conserving energy, unlike when you’re at the office. You don’t pay your company’s energy bill, but you pay yours, and if you’ve noticed a huge spike in energy use since you have been working from home, you’re more likely to do something about it.
Remote workers use less paper
Even though many things are digital in the workplace now, you’ll still likely deal with forms and reams of documents and files on an everyday basis.
When you’re working remotely, you’re more likely to make use of email, different types of software, and cloud-based file sharing and storage systems than paper so there’s less potential for wasting a very valuable resource.
You’ll use less plastic
Think about your usual daily commute to the office and your average working day. You grab a coffee in a disposable cup on the way to work, and then you go for lunch which is a pre-packaged salad or sandwich, a packet of crisps, and a bottle of water, which is put in a plastic bag. This routine creates a huge amount of waste that you probably won’t create at home. When you work from home, you can grab a cuppa whenever you want, you can heat up yesterday’s leftovers, and you (hopefully) won’t be using anything disposable or single-use.
Remote working is better for the environment in many ways, but you can still have a negative impact on the environment when you work from home unless you make an effort to:
- Conserve energy by not leaving appliances and gadgets on standby.
- Buy energy-efficient devices and appliances.
- Buy items with less packaging wherever possible.
- Use cloud-based file storage or sharing software instead of printing things out.
Remote working might be the way forward for the future, but will it have a long-lasting positive effect on the environment and on us? Only time will tell.