A few years ago, hybrid jobs were no options, but more businesses and administrations today are opting for this new way of working across the world. Although remote working has been a heritage of the darkest times of the covid-19 crisis, it is rather seen now as a method for a better work-life-balance. Beside its social benefits, remote working should also contribute to an efficient protection of the environment on the daily basis.
So, to what extent can remote and hybrid jobs truly pave the way for a sustainable lifestyle?
Since 2020, 12.7% of employees work fully remotely while 28.2% of them adopted the hybrid model according to a recent analysis of Forbes. These figures show the readiness of people to change their relationship to work although the working on-site is still very important in specific industries. Less transportation to the office means however less greenhouse gas emissions, whatever and wherever the job is. Despite the lack of proven statistical correlations on the global scale, some surveys done in the UK claim that it would be possible to reduce by 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions if employees worked from home half of the time they currently do in-office. The evidence is not quite certain as countries, sectors and people involved differ, but it is known that reducing driving with individual vehicles has a positive impact overall on air purity.
Benefits of remote working on the environment
Less traffic contributes to the reduction of stress in the morning and during the evenings. This prevents employees from the constant pressure of arriving on time or leaving early to avoid the crowds. Larger cities will especially benefit from that as they can build more sustainable infrastructure for electric vehicles or bikes rather than continuously repairing the old overly used infrastructure. Even the people who can not work from home will be tempted to take more public transportation, as it would be alleviated. Another simple yet optimistic fact is the reduction of plastic and paper waste as there would be less people grabbing coffee cups or easily be driven to order food for lunch when they work on site.
All in all, it looks certain that remote or hybrid models are a major component for the creation of low emission zones in cities, but this might be not as obvious as thought. If the energy bills of businesses are reduced but the bills of homes are increased due to remote working and technological networks required, then the ecological balance sheet will remain the same only with a mutation of proportions and responsibilities. Many of the benefits previously mentioned should still be seen as relative because the individual behavior of people in different contexts is what really makes a valuable impact, not the policies or any coercive decision.
What can we conclude?
Well, it is an exciting time for businesses to redefine their working models and not only the tools, the platforms, the software their employees use or even their working-space but, the underlying sense of the product they sell or the service they offer by questioning what really counts in the so-called “productivity” and what matters to the people who make those businesses grow every day. Working sustainably both means investing in ecological assets and investing in people to have purer air and a healthier active population.