How to make ‘working from home’ more environmentally friendly

More people than ever are now working from home, and remote working could well become the norm for many employees.  But with people also more aware of personal sustainability issues, how can remote employees tailor their work life to improve their own carbon footprint…

Remote working

Working from home became a new experience for many people during the pandemic. In April 2020, the Office for National Statistics recorded that 46.6 percent of people in employment did some remote work. 86 percent of these people did so because of the pandemic, demonstrating a sharp shift in the working experience.

Remote working has, of course, reduced emissions from transport. In the UK, commuting emits 18 billion kg of CO2e every year. This is 25 percent of all transport emissions. Naturally, people working from home will contribute towards a reduction of these emissions.

Choosing a job that enables you to work from home can help improve your personal environmental impact and is a sure-fire way to reduce your commuting emissions. Plus you’ll have the added benefit of not sitting in traffic with a lengthy commute!

Google search scores for ‘work from home jobs’ by year
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
49 50 56 60 85

Making our homes even more sustainable

Of course, when spending more time at home, our energy consumption will increase. Let’s look at an average working schedule of 40 hours per week, 47 weeks per year. In total, working from home means that you would spend an extra 1,880 hours at home per year. This is equivalent to 78 days. During this extra time, you’ll use your home appliances and heating more than usual, especially during the winter months.

 On average, the annual CO2 emissions of the energy you use at home would be around 3.2 tonnes for electrical and natural gas use. This poses a slightly different eco-challenge for those who are making the most of remote working capabilities to live in more rural locations. Rural homes are more likely to use oil fuels to power their homes, a less sustainable fuel than natural gas which is more commonly used in domestic towns. However, for those working from home and in remote locations, improving your environmental footprint can still be achieved. Using off grid gas, LPG, as opposed to oil can reduce your carbon emission by around 20 percent.

Remote working has become a more popular option for people in recent years. Even before the pandemic, Google searches for ‘work from home jobs’ had seen a steady increase. Between 2016 and 2019, searches for this term increased by 22 percent. By 2020, this rose to 73 percent over the past five years. Google search scores represent the popularity of a search term based on a scale of 0 to 100. In 2016, this score was 49. Last year, the score had an average popularity score of 85.

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