Remote work: The impact on sustainability + the planet

by | Oct 29, 2020 | Articles

At Award Force, we run 100% remotely. We’ve been doing so for almost seven years now, and not planning on changing any time soon. Not only do we love working remotely, but it is also an action we take in alignment with one of our values: environmental sustainability. 

Our company helps recognise extraordinary human achievement and we believe it’s important for future generations to have the opportunity to do remarkable things. For this reason, sustainability is a high priority for us. We want to ensure a healthy and liveable planet for many generations to come.

If you’ve been considering remote work for your team, here’s the impact you could have on the planet, your people and their people. 

You’ll pollute less

Since most of us at Award Force work from our homes, we don’t have a commute. This isn’t a small thing: gas emitted by commuters counts for around 25% of CO2 gas emissions worldwide. Avoiding that commute is an easy and direct way to decrease your organisation’s impact on air pollution. 

As for the few of us who commute to coffee shops or coworking spaces, we do it by public transport or by bicycle. 

Another kind of pollution you won’t be responsible for anymore is waste. Our cup of coffee comes from our cupboard and is reused instead of discarded. Also, digitised work has shifted our attitude toward printing: we have a zero paper waste policy. In other words, we don’t print work documents anymore. Just take these statistics from Green Office:

  • The paper industry is the most water-intensive one
  • It is also the fourth most energy-consuming industry 
  • Every one tonne of paper produced generates one tonne of waste
  • And of course, producing paper uses trees, a fundamental natural resource

You’ll consume less energy 

Office spaces consume more energy than home offices, and that’s because our energy consumption behaviors differ from one place to another. 

When people work from home, they are more aware of their energy consumption. It’s in the little things: we turn the lights off (especially at night), we shut down our computers when we’re finished, and we’re mindful of water and heating consumption. 

For a small team like ours, it might not make a huge difference, but compounded at the level of a country or worldwide, this is a tremendous saving in energy consumption. 

You’ll contribute to population redistribution

For the past few years, some young workers have begun leaving large metropolitan areas. The reasons for this brain drain are multiple, be it an exorbitant cost of living, a generational shift toward a more natural life or a general disillusion from capitalism. What’s sure is that the growth of remote work has been a major enabling factor. 

With remote work, people don’t need to be in the same physical space to collaborate, which means they can work from anywhere as long as there is a stable internet connection. Having a thriving career is not tied to living in a big city anymore. 

This exodus back to rural areas or smaller cities means less stress on big cities in terms of resources consumption, pollution, noise, traffic jams, and an influx of consumption revenue in other areas which need it. It is a redistribution of the population. 

For big cities where the concentration of the population puts pressure on the real estate market, this trend is a breath of fresh air and a possible solution to the housing crisis from which many metropolises currently suffer. 

At Award Force, most of us live outside of big capitals such as London or Amsterdam, and one even on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean! 

You’ll contribute to sustainable living

Sustainability is also about our existence as humans and the lifestyle we choose – all of which contribute to a healthy planet and self. 

Remote work has allowed our team to integrate wellbeing into our day-to-day lives. The level of organisation we’ve reached thanks to technology (and around seven years of honing our skills at online collaboration) affords us great flexibility and freedom. 

We’re proud to have a culture that supports and promotes wellness on all levels. For example, we’re encouraged to take a break and go for a walk to clear our heads. Some of us have pets, and they can easily walk them several times a day. We make most of our meals ourselves at home, which means we control the ingredients and their quality. We host weekly meditation sessions, and everyone can join from the comfort of their home. And we even have a virtual running club, where team members share and cheer for one another from across the globe. 

What’s more, when the office is at home, we end up spending more time with our significant other and family. 

A healthy balance between time spent working and time spent taking care of ourselves and our community is crucial to our wellbeing and happiness. It impacts the way we show up to our family and loved ones and the values we pass on to the next generation. And it impacts the way we show up to work.

Healthy, happy and sustainable

We believe the health of our planet is the necessary condition for our species to survive and thrive.  We also believe it’s our responsibility to maintain a healthy and habitable environment for ourselves and for generations to come. Going remote has been a great decision to help us do so. Remote work is no doubt the future of work, and we are happy to meet it here in the present.

Need help pivoting to remote life? Visit the Award Force Remote Hub, a resource centre with articles and tips on working remotely and running virtual award programs.

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