Teleworking could help the planet. A new study suggests that remote work reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on the circumstances, the reduction in emissions for a teleworker could go up to 58%.
Having become omnipresent since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, teleworking continues to question society. Is it really effective in boosting business productivity? What consequences does it have on the mental health of employees? Should we leave the choice or impose fixed days at the office?
If the debate remains open on these questions, another element could revive the attraction for this method of working: the fight against global warming. Indeed, according to a new study published Monday in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, teleworking could drastically reduce individuals’ carbon footprint.
By analyzing various work scenarios, people’s behaviors and emissions sources, researchers found that switching from on-site work to full-time telecommuting can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by 58%. Hybrid schedules, where people work remotely two to four days a week, could also reduce emissions by 11 to 29 percent, the study found.
One day a week, not enough to make a difference
The authors of the study demonstrate, however, that you have to telework more than one day per week to start seeing a difference. Below that, energy consumption benefits are often offset by factors such as increased non-work travel.
Because, unsurprisingly, it is above all the travel between the place of residence and the place of work which creates a notable difference in terms of carbon emissions. The second most important factor is energy consumption within corporate offices.
The researchers also explain that significant changes, such as powering offices with renewable energy or offering cleaner transportation options for workers, could radically reduce this difference in terms of carbon footprint. It is therefore not certain that teleworking will remain much cleaner from an environmental point of view in the future.
Finally, the main limitation of the study lies in the fact that it only focuses on the United States and largely reflects the behavior of office workers living in large cities. For the authors, it is no less important to reflect once again on our behaviors and lifestyles having an impact on global warming.
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