July 1, 2022

Remote, Hybrid or Office Working: the ups and downs for the environment

EMPAUA Salesforce Partner

After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed companies worldwide actively resetting their working models. 

Homeworking accelerated from roughly 5% before Covid to 47% in April 2020. 

It is becoming the new normal with companies like Microsoft, Spotify, Salesforce, and Twitter engaging in flexible hybrid models that combine remote working and working in the office.

However, it is not only the corporations  around the world that have started hitting their reset buttons but also nature itself. Essentially, working from home is beneficial for a better and cleaner environment. 

After all, the escape from  the rush-hour honking sounds and the dissipated smog allow us to assume a connection. 

Let's review the ups and downs we have found in our research and what we believe in at EMPAUA. Read on! 

Environmental gains 

Before the epidemic, according to Eurostat, people in Europe spent an average of 30 minutes each day getting to work. That accounted for 31.3% of carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union in 2019. Canceling the daily commute during successive Covid-19 lockdowns considerably decreased global CO2 emissions by 17% in April 2020. 

A study by Spain's Institut de Ciència I Tecnologia Ambiental found that homeworking substantially affected air quality, indicating that working from home four days a week would reduce nitrogen dioxide from traffic by 10%. Even teleworking for only two days per week, will still help  reduce 4% of NO2 concentrations. What’s more, reduced greenhouse gas emissions create cleaner, healthier air. 

Let’s not only talk about traffic here. Remote working also digitised how people work. When companies adopted the remote working model, employees lost access to office printers and paper copies. They had to  quit printing  and instead improvise the way they exchange documents. 

Did you know that one saved tree can remove up to 14.7 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? So imagine how extraordinary our air quality will be if we eliminate using paper in offices completely! 

As a Salesforce Partner, we believe that every company has an important role to play in our society, beyond the profits it can make year on year or the contribution to the local or international economy. 

It is also essential for us to contribute to society more and also the environment around us.

What does Salesforce stand for?

We are a Salesforce Partner and in order to best represent our business ecosystem and company in the best way possible, we align with Salesforce objectives and act as a trustworthy brand. 

Salesforce, as the number one Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the world, is a key player in supporting and promoting all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, proposed by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). Every year, Salesforce publishes a Stakeholder Impact Report allowing everyone to learn what the company stands for, its commitment and its future action plan. 

Currently  Salesforce's growth has been continually one of the most powerful worldwide, allowing them to give back and commit to remedying problems  within our society and the environment. 

According to the annual report, “Salesforce has joined the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary global leadership platform with ten principles for companies to align on developing, implementing, and communicating responsible business practices to build a better world. Salesforce is committed to making the principles of the U.N. Global Compact part of its strategy, culture, and day-to-day operations.

The downside

Though you might think this new norm of hybrid remote working can't have any adverse effect on the environment, research from the Carbon Trust and Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications and the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions at the University of Sussex may shock you. They indicated that hybrid working might actually increase our energy usage. 

How can that be the case? The answer is that hybrid working requires more traveling, the manufacture of more work-related equipment, and an increase in the size of our homes to accommodate a home office. 

That resulted in furniture waste, which is often overlooked, and indeed higher energy consumption arose from the increase of purchasing larger houses or building additional rooms.

If the trend for moving to suburban outskirts then commuting to work in urban areas by planes a few days of the week is here to stay, the long-distance flight will cost more than average energy transmission. 

So…does remote working make a difference?

The ultimate long-term benefits of the hybrid working model is yet to be determine that greater investigation is needed to examine the unapparent secondary impacts and that this change in working behaviour has on corporate carbon footprints.. Salesforce, though, is bringing exciting announcements regarding this exact topic.

What are our takeaways? The trend for remote working is here to stay. A study from Upwork shows that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers. 

Meanwhile, Gallup’s findings indicated that 90% of remote workers intend to work remotely for the rest of their lives, and 94% of remote workers recommend off-site careers. For this reason, since teleworking is already proven to bring significant impact to the environment and tremendous benefits to employees, it can not be denied that this working model will probably become the dominant long-term solution for companies looking towards building a more sustainable future. 

As a result, instead of looking for a yes-no answer to the question, there are several things we can do to mitigate the negative aspects of these new work models. 

Taking the issues with flights from suburbs to urban areas just to work, companies can implement some policies to tackle this effectively. 

At EMPAUA, we make remote working and hybrid working available for everyone. In the case of commuting, work travel can only be made by train. For our German employees who frequently travel to the Berlin office, we encourage them to choose cycling as their main means of transport.

Read on here what EMPAUA is doing to help protect our planet.

Do you want to work in a team that is environmentally-conscious?

Join our team today to support us in taking more actions to combat this problem. 

We are an active member of Leaders For Climate Action and work annually on an emissions report so that we can offset our carbon footprint. 


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