Teleworking, can reduce the carbon footprint by up to 58% compared to that of those who go to the office, according to a study based on Pnas models.The study led by Cornell University (United States) analyzed the potential of remote work to reduce the carbon footprint of employees.The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of teleworking, which can influence greenhouse gas production due to changes in factors such as commuting and residential energy use.
It assessed greenhouse gas emissions from that transition, taking into account factors such as information and communication technologies, commuting, non-work-related travel, and energy use in offices and homes.
The team, led by Longqi Yang, used multiple data sets with more than 100,000 samples, including big corporation employees on commuting and teleworking.For their study, they modeled the greenhouse gas emissions of office employees in the five categories mentioned and compared the predicted emissions for on-site, fully remote, and hybrid workers.
A significant reduction
The model indicated that teleworking-only employees would have a 58% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to on-site employees, primarily due to lower energy use in the office.
One day a week of teleworking reduced projected emissions by just 2%. In contrast, 2 to 4 days of remote work per week reduced an individual’s emissions by up to 29%, compared to on-site workers.
Increased use of information and communication technologies had a “negligible effect” on emissions, while office energy consumption and non-daily commuting for work are important, the researchers write.
Maximizing environmental benefits of remote working
The study also suggests that maximizing the environmental benefits of remote working depends on multiple factors, such as vehicle choice, commuting behavior and energy efficiency in homes and offices.