How Remote Work Impacts Our Environment
By Sally Hurley, CEO, VIPdesk
How remote work has a lasting positive impact on our environment
This is our 6th Blog in our series about remote work and discusses the positive aspects it has on the environment and corporate sustainability goals. We are incredibly grateful to have a business that can operate with a home-based team. Operating as a remote customer service outsourcer (without brick and mortar facilities) since 2014, VIPdesk has helped improve the lives of our home-based team members by offering a flexible role that promotes life balance. What we hadn’t considered were the benefits to the environment that would be realized as a result.
Over 2 years ago, we started on our journey to become a B Corp. This is a well-recognized certification for companies that meet rigorous standards to improve the workforce, the environment and the community. We earned our B Corp certification in December 2019.
Initially, we thought we certification would result quickly due to our at-home staffing model. We have operated as a home model because we wanted to deliver an elevated customer experience, not to be a green company. Despite sustainability being a primary component to B Corp certification, we initially focused more on employee and culture than on our environmental impact. However, since joining the ranks of over 3,500 certified B Corps, we realize our remote model does in fact have a compelling environmental component.
As a remote, home-based call center, VIPdesk no longer has team members commuting to offices, buying professional wardrobes, using office consumable resource like paper and plastics, etc. What we can share is that our team saved money by working remotely every day. The savings they experience results from not having to pay for gas, cars, professional wardrobes, dry cleaning bills, coffee shops, eating meals out, and more.. Not only has the team benefited, but we have been doing our part for the good of our environment as well. (Our Podcast, Path to Good also covers more about the benefits for team members)
Most forward-thinking businesses, including certified B Corporations, have sustainability goals. During these COVID-19 times, many companies may not realize that their remote based employees are major contributors to helping them achieve some of these goals.
4 Ways a Remote Workforce Now Helps Support Business Sustainability Goals
A Remote Workforce Helps Reduce Air Pollution – Have you seen the images of the blues skies above Los Angeles now? Per the EPA, air quality is better than it has been since 1995 and some reports show perhaps going back to the 1940s. With only a fraction of the workforce working from a home office, the impact was not as obvious. Now, of course, the impact is clearly visible in some of the largest cities in the world.
A Remote Workforce Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gases – Commuting is the 2nd largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA says transportation makes up 28% of these emissions. With a remote workforce eliminating the need to commute, the reduction is significant. Some estimate that if all employees in the U.S. worked remotely 100% of the time, greenhouse gases could be reduced by 108 million tons. More and more companies like Dell continue to report on the positive environmental impacts and cost savings associated with flexible work options. Dell’s study found that they avoided 6,700 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saved $12 million in 2013 through its Connected Workplace program. Remote workers reduce fossil fuel consumption by not driving to and from work every day.
A Remote Workforce Helps Reduce Office Waste – Virtually based workers also use less paper and plastics. The average office employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper in a year. While it is not a complete offset, it is most common that work from home employees rely primarily on digital interactions. At least this is the case for our organization. The only paper we handle is mail that arrives at our headquarters and that isn’t much.
A Remote Workforce Helps Keep Employees Healthier – A study in a Forbes.com article found that U.K. workers spend an average of 58 minutes commuting to work. Commuting length has been correlated with higher blood pressure and negative mood in the workplace. Remote work removes the need for commuting and the associated negative effects on employees.
During this extremely difficult time, many have had to adjust to working remotely. As a customer service business with a virtual team distributed across the US, we have long believed the benefits for teleworking continue to be realized. Business are adapting and already adjusting. Thanks to remote working, some of the benefits listed above will help companies better support their environmental and sustainability goals.
If you want to learn more about setting up a remote workforce, we’ve published a whole series on work from home tips. Here you’ll find “5 Proven Tips To Set Up a Remote Workforce Successfully.” You can read “5 Best Communication Practices for a Remote Workforce” here. Learn “How To Stay Connected with Your Remote Team” here and “10 Tips for Remote Workers To Keep Their Sanity” here. And finally, read “How To Avoid Loneliness and Find Joy Working Remotely” here.