Is Hybrid Working Good for the Environment?
1˚C might not seem like a very big number, but when it comes to global warming this number might very well be the tipping point leading to a climate catastrophe. It has been estimated that this rise could go up to 2˚C to 3˚C which could destabilize entire ecosystems. The massive die-off of coral reefs to collapsing ice sheets are indicia of the accelerated rate at which we are approaching the point of no return.
As waves of covid washed all over the globe and wasteful human activity came to a staggering halt. Hybrid working emerged as an unlikely solution for one of the greatest drivers of global warming, the daily commute.
So what exactly is “hybrid working” and how is it beneficial for our climate?
Hybrid working refers to the practice of giving employees the flexibility of choosing their own place of work, excluding office premises. And the most productive place where people are happiest is their home or anywhere that is close to their living space. As opposed to forcing people to travel for hours in polluting vehicles just to reach the office not only results in decreased productivity but also affects morale. While hybrid working is not a recent concept it has certainly received widespread acceptance owing to the pandemic. And the ban on all that unnecessary driving and commuting could clearly be felt in the clarity of air during the pandemic.
Eliminating the commute is only one aspect of this positive change, this approach also shows a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel and greenhouse emissions. It also gives companies the chance to reduce their carbon footprint by downsizing their office properties and reducing the consumption of other resources such as electricity. Hybrid working also enables corporations to adhere to 6 of the UN's 17 sustainable development goals (SDG).
Hybrid working also mitigates the problem of plastic pollution as more and more people can avoid eating takeout food, as single-use plastics are one of the biggest polluters. Hybrid working also dramatically reduces paper wastage. One noticeable difference is that choosing to communicate via virtual workspaces and electronic communication eliminates the need for paperwork and is much better for record keeping. According to some figures, 35% of trees that are harvested are to create 300 trillion tonnes of paper out of which only 63% gets recycled. While trees can be regrown sustainably, the oil used in the production process of paper is not a renewable resource and its usage results in further emissions. A single A4 sheet requires 10 litres of water. These statistics bring into perspective how beneficial it is to reduce our paper consumption through hybrid working.
It may be argued that hybrid working is not an end-game solution for all our climate woes but it definitely is a step in the right direction. Climate consciousness is very important to people today and hybrid working could form a part of any company's sustainability approach. It not only creates opportunities for gender equality but is also an investment in the employees’ mental and physical well-being. Moreover, it is a positive change that drives self-improvement delivering multifold benefits in terms of employee retention, finances and productivity as well as other SDG goals.
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