Posted on May 05, 2020, 3 p.m.
Many people view working from home as a dream, others view it as a nightmare, and for others regardless of where you work it’s just another day at the office. Around the globe cities are now beginning to view remote work from home as a viable way to combat traffic congestion and harmful emissions while lowering workplace overhead costs all while still getting the job done.
The move to work from home remotely is getting backing support too, for example such as in Massachusetts where an $18 billion transportation investment bill has unveiled that includes a tax credit that gives companies more flexibility in offering working from home remotely perks to their employees; the main goal of this bill is to get more cars off of the road.
Boston is far from being the only city suffering from smog, pollution, and nightmare gridlock traffic, but luckily remote at home work and telecommuting is on the rise to help combat these issues; according to a Gallup poll 43% of the American workforce reported working from home for at least some portion of the week in 2016.
These employees are reported to be more engaged, enthusiastic, energetic, positive, and productive; those who work remotely between 60-80% of the time are most likely to agree that their engagement needs are being met. Carrers.wiki.com reports that remote work opportunities have increased by 44% from 2015 to 2020, and since 2008 the number of remote work positions has expanded by over 159%, and these figures were before the current COVID-19 outbreak forcing people to stay home.
Remote work allows employees to achieve a better work/life balance that significantly improves well being and job satisfaction thanks to having more flexible schedules. The ease of working from home, and the rise of telecommuting trends are due in part to the way in which digital platforms are reshaping everything in modern society ranging from how we communicate, to how we work, how we stay informed, and how we connect with/to others from all around the globe.
Telecommuting, contract work, and freelancing have become so popular that you can find office spaces for rent specifically for this type of work as the nature of office work, office spaces, and the traditional 9-5er are changing to keep up with the constantly advancing digital age and technology.
Fewer commuters means fewer cars, so that should help to reduce emissions, which is a big environmental benefit to working from home. This does appear to be the case such as in the Washington DC area, for example, where a regional travel trend study reported a dip in Metrorail riders with no corresponding increase in automobile traffic in which the partial reason was tied to the rise in remote work (pre-COVID-19).
The Lancet published a study finding that telecommuting benefits both public health as well as helps with sustainable travel and lowering an individual’s and city’s carbon footprint.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has estimated in 2015 that remote work helped to reduce the number of commuting miles and that those working for the agency drove 84 million mile less to reduce emissions by 44,000 tons.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) the transportation sector generated more emission in American than that of the industry, electricity, commercial, and agricultural sectors. With so much of the many emissions being linked to daily work commutes, remote work and telecommuting could serve as powerful tools to help reduce emissions as well as traffic.
A Global Workplace Analytic report found that federal teleworkers alone could reduce as many emissions as the planting of 16 million trees. Flexjobs reported that Dell, Xerox, and Aetna saved 96,294 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission with their telecommuting policies in 2015 alone, which is the equivalent of removing 20,000 passenger vehicles from the roads.
Aside from reducing emissions and traffic congestion these are not the only way working from home benefits the environment; with fewer employees heading the traditional office spaces energy demands are reduced for companies and office buildings reducing overhead costs. Meaning that both employees and employers can save money with the reduced travel expenses, daycare costs, and scaling down of energy needs from office heating, cooling, and electricity use.
Remote work can help to reduce congestion during peak travel times as well as exposing fewer people to harmful air pollution which has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and early death. For instance a study from the University of Stirling Scotland found women who work in areas near heavy traffic have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
In America the average commute time is 26 minutes in one direction according to the US Census Bureau, this totals over 200 hours spent driving to and from work per year. Adding up the total costs of fuel this commuting not only adds to traffic congestion, releases emissions, it also takes a financial cost on drivers which could also include tolls, permits, and car repairs.. Reuter reports that even though some business driving can be deducted from taxes, the daily commute can still cost drivers thousands of dollars annually.
“So if you have a 20-mile commute to work, multiply it out: 40 miles each workday times 50 cents a mile,” Personal Finance Blogger Mr. Money told Reuters. “And there are 2,500 of those workdays in every decade, so that ‘not too bad’ commute is burning at least $50,000 every ten years.”
Daily commutes to and from work are costly environmentally and economically speaking, working from home even for a part of the week has the potential to significantly cut traffic, reduce emissions, and improve employees productivity and happiness. For these reasons alone telecommuting and working remotely from home makes sense, especially with the nature of the changing global workforce, and we haven’t even touched on other health benefits such as reduced stress, increased family time, improved sleep schedules, and more free time for exercise and hobbies.
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