Smaller Carbon Footprint

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Updated March 23, 2023

You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Remote Work, a book by Katie Wilde, Juan Pablo Buriticá, and over 50 other contributors. It is the most comprehensive resource on building, managing, and adapting to working with distributed teams. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, 800 links and references, a library of tools for remote-friendly work, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Early forays into remote work in the 1970s emerged in direct response to growing gridlock and concerns over fossil fuel consumption.* More recent studies have turned up some very convincing data when it comes to remote work reducing daily commutes, which has a positive environmental impact. FlexJobs reports on a host of positive outcomes, including:*

  • 7.8B car miles not driven

  • 530M trips avoided

  • 3M tons of greenhouse gases not emitted

  • $498M in avoided costs of traffic accidents

  • $980M in oil savings ($50/barrel)

importantOne unreported consequence of remote work is a possible increase in air travel for some percentage of the remote workforce. Managers and executives in particular are likely to fly more in order to meet with each other and their teams, and many remote companies fly people for semi-regular team offsites and annual (or possibly more frequent) all-company retreats. We don’t know of any studies on what the environmental impact of this side-effect of remote work is, but we are aware of one company (Convert) that works to offset the carbon impact of all their business operations (not just travel).*

Only a small percentage of remote workers would choose to go back to an office.** Working remotely offers a host of potentially life-changing benefits for individual employees.

Flexible Schedules

Flexible schedules are one of the most prominent benefits universally cited by people who work remotely. Whether it’s more time with family, mid-day exercise, working when you want vs. set 9-to-5 office hours*, flexible schedules typically lead to self-reported improvement in people’s work/life balance—often because of powerful drivers that can include the increasing demands of parenting, the growing number of older relatives that need care, and the desire for a career as well as a family.

Figure: Flexible Schedule Is Biggest Remote Work Benefit

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