How Remote Working Can Save the World

How can Remote Working save the world? The other day I came across an interesting picture that highlighted the difference in the amount of road space required to transport people by different modes – cars, buses and bicycles. You can see a version of it here on Twitter that is nicely animated.

This is a great illustration why public transport and infrastructure are so important, and something that should be invested in. I also started thinking that the picture makes a good case for remote working.

The primary reason most people travel into cities is for their daily commute. I spent enough time on commuter trains to know how crowded they typically are. I also know how jammed the roads are as well most mornings from experience. These congested roads not only cause delays and discomfort, they create vast amounts of smog and pollution, as well as being great incubators for germs.

Running the Numbers

Let’s think about the pollution for a minute. Global warming is a huge threat to the planet and we need to find a way of reducing our carbon emissions. How do we do this? One thing is to get people off of the road, but there are only two ways of doing that:

  1. Be more efficient. Transport more people in a vehicle so the emission per person is lower.
  2. Have less people actually travelling on the road.

Buses, light rail, cycle schemes and other public transport initiatives are great at number 1, and should be invested in. However, if more people worked remotely, we could actually cut emissions through option number 2 and eliminate the emissions completely. The average CO2 emission in the UK from commuting is about 2.6 tonnes per year, and around 30% of the UK’s 27 million workers commute by car. Imagine if you could have 10% of those workers now work remotely and not commuting. That would save 2.1 millions tonnes of C02 or about 0.5% of the UK’s total emissions. That’s a big saving through a simple change and doesn’t even include additional savings from less congested roads.

So can remote working save the world? Well, maybe not save the world, but it could definitely help in reducing emissions and making the planet a little bit greener.

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