How Remote Work Improves Sustainability

by | May 31, 2024 | blog, Business, Content Marketing, remote work, writing

As the world transitions out of a global pandemic and into a new sense of “normal,” more and more people are finding the idea of remote work attractive, even without the need to stay home. From the potential of earning more money and saving time to the ability to balance work with home and family life, there is no denying that remote work is beneficial in many ways. 

One often unconsidered factor is its impact on the environment. Recent studies have shown just how significant a “green” impact remote work has on the world. But what about the often overlooked aspect of sustainability-our emotional well-being? Can remote work help us avoid the burnout that is often associated with working from home? The answer is a resounding yes, and we’re here to guide you through it. 

What Is Sustainability and Why Is It Important?

At its core, sustainability is the ability to develop and exist as a society without depleting or harming natural resources necessary for the future. Because so many of our resources are limited and many of our habits and practices have the potential to harm the environment, we must do the work to ensure that there are resources and an Earth to live on for generations to come. Sustainability offers the means necessary to ensure the success and future of our global, national, and local environments.

But why is this important? And how does it benefit from a work-from-home lifestyle? In simplest terms, it is important for preserving life on our planet and maintaining the availability of our natural resources like air and water. Without these things, society would cease to exist. Sustainability also helps reduce pollution and protects the natural habitats of animals and plants.

When businesses move to a more sustainable model, a ripple effect occurs. This carries sustainability out to smaller communities and even the home life of individuals, creating a better quality of life for everyone. Herein is where emotional sustainability comes into play. With stable work-from-home business models, our mental and emotional sustainability must also be attended to. Instead of natural resources, we hope to reserve our own personal energy. 

How Remote Work Is Good for the Environment

A recent study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that remote workers, in comparison to onsite workers, have a 54% lower carbon footprint. In addition, the study found that employees who only spent one day out of a week working from home only reduced their carbon footprint by 2%. In both these cases, the numbers show that a flexible work-from-home schedule is beneficial to the environment as a whole.

When working fully remotely, people’s energy use and commuting decrease drastically. Because workers wouldn’t find themselves driving to work every day, their emissions would be reduced. Greenhouse gasses, or the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that raise the surface temperature of the planet would decrease by 54 million tons if employees were to work half their schedule from home. Just think of the impact there would be if workers could operate a full schedule from home. 

Another environmentally friendly reason for remote work is the prospect of less food waste and food packaging. In 2014, food waste packaging was responsible for almost 45% of space taken up in landfills. Prepping meals at home is more sustainable, as most snacks or ready-made food–a large amount of what is consumed in an office setting–are made of single-use plastics.

Having employees work remotely also cuts down on the costs and emissions of having to heat or cool a large office space. A physical business location would not be necessary for a work-from-home business model and would completely cut all emissions caused by direct temperature maintenance. 

Sustainable Habits When Working From Home

As a company that utilizes a remote employment structure for employees and independent contractors, we’re here to share with you a few simple tips and tricks for maintaining sustainability from home.

  • Reduce Single-Use Plastics: One way to take environmental sustainability into your own hands is to cut down on the use of single-use plastics and food waste. This could involve implementing an organized meal plan so you know exactly what you need for the week for your grocery trip. This would reduce the potential for what might get thrown away (look at you, two-week-old bags of withered lettuce) and eliminate the need for multiple trips. 
  • Eco-Friendly Office Supplies: If you have a home office, choosing recycled or sustainable office supplies can reduce your environmental impact. Reusable paper or digital records can reduce your paper needs.
  • Unplug Devices: Even if they are turned off, electronic devices will still use power if they are plugged in. Unplugging these devices will prevent vampire energy or the energy pull that occurs when these devices are left plugged in.

How Remote Work Improves Emotional Sustainability

We’ve discussed the environmental impacts of sustainability, but these factors are about more than the outside world. There are alsodd personal issues driving the remote work initiative. 

Studies have shown that remote workers feel lower levels of stress and more satisfaction from their jobs overall, while improved sleeping habits can add a layer of physical and mental health. Remote work also fosters a more inclusive environment, easing workplace tensions and allowing for a more open dialogue, along with a willingness to listen and share. In addition, working from home offers a way for you to personalize your workspace, giving you flexibility and confidence, two things crucial to creating an emotionally sustainable work environment. 

Maintaining Emotional Sustainability

Despite the emotional pros of working from home, it is easy to work until you’re burnt out when you find yourself in constant reach of your computer. Here are a few simple ways to avoid remote work burn-out:

  • Set Boundaries: Sometimes, it really is okay to say no. Evaluate how much time you can dedicate to work on a given day and stick with it. Be honest with your fellow employees, bosses, supervisors, etc. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I do not answer emails after 5 pm on weekdays,” or, “I will not be working on the weekends in order to dedicate that time to my family.” Remote work can often blur the lines between work time and personal time, resulting in burnout.
  • Take Care of Your Mental Health: In recent years, society as a whole has become increasingly aware of the value of physical health. But what about mental health? If our mental health is significantly depleted, our work can likewise be affected, decreasing our sustainability as a competent worker. 

Mindfulness is a great way to take care of our mental health. Meditation has been found to have a positive effect on mental and physical health as well. Taking the time to get outside and exercise improves both mental and physical health and can also refresh us so that we can head back to our desks with a clear mind and focused energy.

Why Better Content Matters Cares

At the end of the day, businesses like Better Content Matters are encouraging these positive impacts on both the environment and the individuals on our team. We care about sustainability and about making sure those who work for us and the world as a whole are given the tools needed to continue this work for years to come. Contact us today to learn more about the content we provide and why digital marketing might be the right tool for you. Become a part of the ripple effect that positively impacts the world and those who work remotely.

Teagan King

Teagan King

Teagan Olivia King is a writer who lives in a tucked-away cabin at the end of a dirt road with her rescue pup, Remus, and the squirrels who dwell in the pines. She enjoys reciting Shakespeare, sticking her nose in as many books as possible, and working on her novels. Teagan is a 2014 graduate of Northern Michigan University's Creative Writing program and currently freelances as her main gig. Which she thinks is pretty cool.