April 22, 2016 marks the 46th year of Earth Day, a movement that gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. And while this one day brings wider recognition to achieving any number of sustainability goals, each and every day is an opportunity for people to think and act in ways that can impact climate change.
One surprising way people and companies can have a positive impact on climate change is to offer employees flexible work options. According to Flexjobs, the leading job search site specializing in telecommuting, part-time, freelance, and flexible jobs, "Much of an individual's carbon footprint is based on when, where and how he or she is required to work."
In fact, the company found that if people who held telework-compatible jobs worked from home just two days a week, the U.S. would:
- Save nearly 52 million gallons of gas
- Save over 2.6 million barrels of oil
- Reduce wear and tear on highways by over 1 billion miles a year
"In the U.S., where commuters travel primarily by car, where access to public transportation is often limited and inconvenient, and where super commuting is on the rise, we need to do more to promote the environmental benefits of working from home," says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. "Remote work generates meaningful benefits, from lowering commute-related gas and oil consumption, pollution, and carbon emissions to reducing a company’s need for office space to overall energy savings and minimizing the need for work-related travel through remote collaboration tools like web and video conferencing."
We're proud to say that here at MIT Sloan Executive Education, we're doing our part by offering--and even encouraging--our team of 35 people to work remotely two to three days per week. Our flexible work arrangement also utilizes Double Telepresence Robot units and avatar-driven videoconferencing to ensure that remote workers are not at a disadvantage.
Many companies can easily come up with reasons to avoid flex jobs--decreased productivity (recent research disproves this assumption), less face time, and stigmas attached to working remotely. But as Dr. Peter Hirst, Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education recently told The Boston Globe, "By the end of the six-month trial period ... [we] were all converts." Hirst noted that a survey after the pilot program revealed that 100% of the MIT Sloan Executive Education staff said they would recommend working remotely to other departments.
We're encouraged that more than 80% of companies today offer flexible work options. So as you’re considering how you and your company can make an impact on the environment, consider adding remote working options as one way to make your organization more sustainable, and to do your part in impacting climate change.
Interested in more discussions around sustainability and climate change? Participate in the #OurAccord ongoing conversations, an MIT-led initiative on how individuals can impact climate change.
Featured image courtesy of Huffington Post