How Telecommuting Benefits the Environment

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Companies are more socially aware now than ever before. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) demands that businesses be responsible to the society particularly to the environment. One of the feasible ways that businesses could help retard the harmful effects of global climate change is to allow employees to telecommute.

In line with this endeavor, a study was conducted by Consumer Electronics Association in September 2007 to determine the effects of telecommuting. The results revealed that telecommuting plays a role in limiting US carbon emissions by approximately 14 million tonnes per year.

Some technology watchers have questioned the wisdom of allowing employees to work from home. They pointed out that carbon emissions saved from commuting to and from work are offset by increased emissions from electricity used at homes.

CEA’s report The Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Telecommuting and e-Commerce however, countered these notions by presenting the results of the study pointing to the fact that “energy consumption associated with transportation to and from the office and, in some cases, a portion of the energy associated with commercial office space” were effectively reduced due to home working.

The research conducted by TIAX LLC stated that around 3.9 million Americans work from home at least once a week. This leads to a decreased gasoline consumption by some 840 million gallons or equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road every year. One day of telecommuting would be equal to saving 12 hours of electricity use of an average household.

Gary Shapiro president and CEO of CEA also stated that making electronic products efficient is only one half of the story. The other half requires that communication tools and high speed broadband be provided in order to make the shift to low carbon economy.

The report also cited a previous research that estimated 53 million workers in the US can do their work at home. This presents a huge opportunity for companies to shift to home working in the US alone.

If the plan to allow 53 million workers telecommute materializes, this could translate into an annual decrease in CO2 emissions equal to over 27 million vehicles off the road. According to Work Wise UK/RAC Foundation, taking just a million workers off the road could translate into reduction of CO2 emissions by 927,369 tons.

Given these findings, it is safe to say that telecommuting certainly help eases up CO2 emissions by saving energy and fuel consumption. These steps would eventually redound to the planet’s benefit.