It’s no secret that remote work has come with many perks for both employees and even companies alike—namely with more productivity, less turnover, and better work-life balance. But is working from home environmentally friendly, too?
And if it is, exactly how does working from home help the environment?
4 environmental benefits of remote working
Not having to come into the office every day of the week means fewer cars on the road—which means fewer emissions from the average driver.
In fact, a study from Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals in Spain found that working from home four days a week could reduce the nitrogen dioxide emissions generated from traffic by about 10%.
While four days a week of remote work may not be practical for every business, giving employees even a few days of remote work is good for productivity, too. Research shows that remote employees are 35-40% more productive than their in-office coworkers.
Decrease in commercial energy consumption
When employees no longer have to come into the office every day, there are fewer lights on and machinery running—which helps reduce power consumption. This is a great way to help cut down on electricity costs, while also doing your part to lower your carbon footprint.
In fact, some businesses like Spotify have chosen to work remotely for good, while other companies like Lyft and Reddit have adopted a hybrid model.
Even if you’re not able to completely shut down your offices or warehouse facilities, cutting power to some portions of your commercial buildings can save your business up to 50% energy, which is both good for the environment and means more money saved on overhead costs.
A shift from urban to rural areas
With more people having the option to work from anywhere, more professionals are trading the hustle and bustle of urban cities for residences in quieter, more spacious rural and suburban areas. Since 2020, five million people in the United States alone have moved to a new location thanks to the flexibility provided by remote work.
This is good news for the environment, as rural areas are typically less polluted than urban areas. Fewer employees commuting to the office every day means fewer cars on the road and less traffic congestion.
Not only is remote working good for the environment but it’s also an advantage for businesses that want to hire and retain top talent. Hiring remotely gives you access to a wider talent pool with greater skills. What’s more, 74% of remote workers say they are less likely to quit a remote job.
Less Paper Usage
Think about how often you print documents and share hard copies with your team. Unfortunately, most of this paper typically goes to waste.
In fact, about 45% of paper printed in offices ends up in the trash by the end of the day, and companies spend more than $120 billion a year on printed documents—most of which become outdated within three months.
This much paper waste isn’t great for the environment, either. But it’s estimated that remote work could save around 247 trillion sheets of paper each year, along with about 16 trillion trees saved from deforestation.
The best part is that there are plenty of tools businesses can use to go paperless and keep teams productive while remote. For example, when it comes to collaborating on projects, employees can easily view, edit, store, and share documents on secure platforms like Dropbox.
Even closing deals or onboarding new hires can be paperless with an eSignature tool like Dropbox Sign, which makes requesting signatures and signing contracts simple no matter where you live.
What can employers do to be more environmentally friendly while allowing remote work?
The first step is to invest in tools that allow for efficient digital collaboration between employees.
Technology like electronic document management systems and eSignatures make work easier for both in-office and remote employees, while reducing costs associated with paper-based communication, printing, and filing.
With Dropbox Sign, not only can you cut down on physical paper trails and inefficiency, but you can improve contract completion rates by as much as 26%, and get HR documents signed up to three times faster.