Is work from home approach the best for the environment?

This pandemic has forced us to switch onto the online mode of work, since going to office is a near impossible task during these difficult times. Most of the corporate offices have adapted to the WFH trend. But the major question arises is the environment benefited from this choice.

For the roughly 20% to 40% of employees who can work from home, many companies are announcing that post-pandemic work won’t necessarily take place at work – at least not five days a week. Microsoft, Spotify, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Nationwide insurance, Capital One and Citigroup, among others, have embraced hybrid configurations combining remote work and time in the office. There soon could be four times as many people working from home as did pre-Covid.

Shopify’s CEO declared in May of last year that remote work would become a permanent fixture. Accounting for the energy consumption of its nearly 6,000 employees working from home in 2020, Shopify’s emissions dropped 29%, according to Kauk. But “last year isn’t typical remote work,” she said. “It’s remote work during Covid.” What happens when the world opens back up?

Kauk posed the dilemma to Watershed, a software outfit that helps companies track and reduce their carbon footprints.

When workers’ homes become their offices, commutes may fall out of the carbon equation, but what’s happening inside those homes must be added in. How much energy is being used to run the air conditioner or heater? Is that energy coming from clean sources? In some parts of the country during lockdown, average home electricity consumption rose more than 20% on weekdays, according to the International Energy Agency. IEA’s analysis suggests workers who use public transport or drive less than four miles each way could actually increase their total emissions by working from home.

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