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Working From Home: The New Way Forward?

Exploring the environmental benefits of working from home and how this can reduce your carbon footprint.

Following the global pandemic more and more companies are allowing their employers to work from home in fact, most encourage it. Although there is an ongoing debate around working from home and the benefits versus the negatives, in regards to reducing your carbon footprint, working from home is seen to be the ideal choice. 3 years ago when the pandemic began and the virus was spreading rapidly, we fell into a national lockdown where the percentage of individuals working from home jumped from 4% to 47%.

Some offices have since reopened and reverted back to a pre-pandemic way of working, however, I have found that as a university student nearing graduation almost all the jobs that I was applying for offer a Hybrid working style, which means to spilt your time between working from home and working from the office.

The Green Journal offered six environmental benefits of working from home.

1. Emitting fewer emissions

2. Improving the air quality

3. Waste of paper is reduced

4. Reduced power usage

5. Reduced plastic waste


Now as we dive into these six benefits it must be noted that these benefits will not fix the world as a whole but will contribute to a better quality of life both environmentally and personally.

Emitting fewer emissions

If you are working from home then your commute becomes a few steps from your bedroom to your home office or kitchen counter, this means there is no need to get up and drive somewhere subsequently reducing the emissions that each driver emits on their commute to work.

Driving to and from work for 5 days a week can have significant impacts on your carbon footprint, Nitrogen dioxide is the primary pollutant caused by vehicle emissions and studies show that even working from home four days a week can reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions by around 10%.

So speak to your manager and see if you can adopt a hybrid working style or permanently move to work from home.

Improving the air quality

Air quality dramatically improved throughout the lockdowns, but as soon as restrictions started to lift and people returned to work, pollution numbers began to rise. Once all restrictions were lifted the Nitrogen dioxide emissions remained around 20% lower than pre-pandemic.

Now, this could be linked with working from home, as throughout the pandemic we saw better air quality. Although air quality has since decreased as restrictions have been lifted, it has still remained around 20% lower than pre-pandemic which could be a consequence of more and more companies offering work-from-home schemes.

Paper waste is reduced

Due to the pandemic, a lot of meetings and contract signings were moved to an online format, eliminating the use of paper documents and handouts. Another factor was businesses couldn’t rely on every employee to have access to a printer. The switch to digital means that businesses can become a paperless environment and can begin to fix the high volumes of paper waste.

Society was already heading towards a more digital way of conducting business but the pandemic sped up the process.

Reduced power usage

Now working from home may cause the individual's utility costs to increase but will reduce the larger cost of keeping buildings running when only a handful of people turn up to work. Alongside this larger corporate buildings tend to rely on traditional fossil fuels to power the building where as most modern homes rely on alternative more sustainable ways of acquiring power such as solar panels.

Reduced plastic waste

If you have no commute to work, the chances of going out and grabbing a coffee before work seems slim, you won't need to bring wrapped-up food for lunch or order anything because it will be kept fresh in your fridge and you’ll have your morning coffee in a mug, not a disposable coffee cup.

Working from home allows you to cook your meals fresh, enjoy a coffee whenever you need it and grab a glass of water at any time. It significantly decreases the use of single-use plastic and most likely increases the quality of food you eat.

Although you might lose more time and create more waste, your single-use plastic waste will significantly decrease.

You get more free time!

One major benefit of working from home is you get more free time to yourself.

In addition to reducing your carbon footprint and limiting fuel costs, engaging in working from home will allow you to have more free time, whether it’s a 10-minute commute or 1 hour the extra time gained from not having to commute to work will give you a chance for extra sleep or work out, time to spend with loved ones or just extra time to disconnect with work and enjoy the world we live in.

Shut off your computer and go create new experiences!

Working from home is not the sole solution for our environmental problems but it could be a step in the right direction, offering the opportunity to split between working from home and the office allows for all these previously mentioned benefits to take place whilst also keeping the sense of culture within the company. Although working from home is not an option for all jobs, for those it can be implemented should definitely be explored.


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