Ready for a 2020 ‘good news’ story? Great; because we’ve got one. In fact, there’s an odds-on chance that you have a starring role. You see, if you are one of the millions of people currently working from home, then you are directly contributing to the largest decline in global carbon emissions on record. The planet has got healthier, because people are working from home.
Yes, for many, home-working is a temporary, Covid-19 induced, measure and not intended to become the long term status quo. But . . . what if it was? In a recent article, Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, pointed out that if remote working remained globally embraced for only half of the time (with people operating out of workplaces for the other half), the environmental impact “would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce off the road”.
Before you dismiss permanent home-working as a great in theory but not in practice, ask yourself one question: Is that really the case? Environmental impact aside, the benefits of having a home-based workforce are far-reaching, for both the businesses and the individuals involved.
We speak from experience. Saint Associates was founded on the principles of ethically and environmentally focused working. Our team have always worked remotely. As a business, Saint Associates occupies no physical infrastructure. As a collective, we have reduced weekly work commute time from around 400 hours to zero. Put another way, having an entirely home-based team means Saint Associates contributes nearly three tonnes less weekly carbon emissions than if we were driving to an office daily. That’s an annual reduction of around 150 tonnes.
Has it been difficult operating a business this way? Honestly? No, quite the opposite. Taking away the commute has removed the stress that comes with travel to work, and given back the hours it takes. The individual autonomy afforded to every member of the Saint Associates team has contributed to an incredible level of productivity. Indeed, research has found that homeworkers across the board are not only more productive than office-based workers, but that they also feel more engaged, experience higher levels of job satisfaction, and benefit from improved levels of health and wellbeing. Remote working also allows us to have a broader global talent network, as we don’t need staff that live near to an office.
And it gets better. Saint Associates’ outgoings are significantly less than they would be if we were office based. Neilroy Gunn, Head of Creative & Brand, says: “One of the best things about having lower over-heads is that Saint Associates is able to pass savings on to clients, and also to fund pro-bono and charity work.”
Back to protecting the planet, and it’s worth noting that, wherever possible, Saint Associates uses renewable energy, and when travel is absolutely necessary we work with Offset Earth to mitigate the environmental impact. Over three quarters of the global population feel that businesses should take an active role in the fight against negative environmental issues, and Saint Associates are enormously proud to be doing just that.
Lucy Brialey, Director of The Sustainable Spa Association, and Saint Associates client, said: “Choosing to work with Saint Associates made complete sense to us. Our procurement policies ensure that we put environmental decisions first, and Saint Associates have gone above and beyond most marketing agencies to get this right.”
“This shines through in the efficacy of their culture. Their strength lies in global location-independent working methods that ensure maximum results and minimum negative environmental impact. They really are pioneers of positive change – both creatively and environmentally.”
Still need convincing? Here are four ways that working from home helps the environment:
- REDUCED CARBON EMISSIONS
Working from home for just half of the week could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons every year! In the UK alone, transport emissions account for 21% of the country’s carbon footprint, with 98% of an individual’s emissions coming from their commute to work.
- REDUCED ENERGY USE
Keeping multiple people at an ambient temperature, in multiple parts of a building, at multiple times of day, equates to huge energy usage (and expense). Office equipment tends to be left on, even when it isn’t being used. Lights are automated, security systems are on 24/7, and employees are more prone to irresponsible overuse of energy because they never see the bills! When working from home, it is much easier to restrict energy usage by heating and lighting only certain parts of the house and keeping equipment turned off when not in use.
- REDUCED USE OF PLASTIC
Much of the food and drink consumed in the workplace comes in or with plastic. Think coffee cups, sandwich wrappers, take-away containers, disposable cutlery, and plastic carrier bags. In contrast, home workers tend to prepare their own food and drink, negating the need for wrappers and disposable utensils.
- REDUCED USE OF PAPER
No printer queue pressure at home means you can easily print on the back of old documents, rather than fresh sheets of paper. Plus, people who are comfortable with digital working tend to print less. Most of our team don’t even have one.