The Impact of Telecommuting on the Environment

  • July 20, 2020

  • Eyes4Research

Coronavirus has impacted every factor of our lives, including the way we work. With the global pandemic far from over, companies have turned to telecommuting, reducing health risks while maintaining productivity amongst employees. The widespread adoption of remote work has eliminated the daily commute for millions of people and transformed the way we collaborate with others. With less travel, paper waste, and energy consumption, the positive environmental impact of remote work may help companies reduce their carbon footprint and curb climate change. 

Reduced Gasoline Use and Carbon Emissions

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Americans use 389.51 million gallons of motor gasoline a day. With remote work eliminating the commute to the office for 24.7 million Americans, as reported by the U.S. Labor Statistics, the U.S. reduces daily gasoline usage by 30 million gallons. Less travel also improves air quality by reducing carbon emissions, as the USEPA estimates that each telecommuter saves 3.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 69% of transportation-related carbon emissions, per year. In addition to reducing one’s carbon footprint, remote workers save about $50 per month on fuel according to Forbes, positively impacting the wallets of workers and the environment.

Reduced Paper 

In addition to minimizing carbon emissions, remote work significantly reduces the amount of waste produced by workplaces. According to the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, the average U.S. office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets of paper per year, contributing to 23 million tons of paper in American landfills. By relying more heavily on telecommunication and digital software to share information and reduce printing, workers reduce paper waste by 2.47 trillion pounds per year. 

Reduced Energy and Fossil Fuel Usage

Working remotely reduces energy and fossil fuel usage, as electricity and gas consumption for commercial buildings signifigantly decrease the more people work from home. In the United States alone, 63% of electricity and 90% of fuel for transportation are derived from fossil fuels per year, with employees using 2x more electricity in the office than at home, according to Gallup. Consequently, remote work remains the most viable option to reduce fossil fuel consumption, as cutting office utility costs and eliminating the need to commute have the potential to save exorbitant amounts of resources.