Growing up, my green-thumbed mom used to cheer me up on gloomy April days with the old proverb, “April showers bring May flowers.” But as I get older, this adage proves less and less comforting as it loses its relevance.
Here in New England this April, I’ve had little need for an umbrella to date. A week or so ago I spent a balmy afternoon outside in shorts and a t-shirt, soaking up 80-degree warmth and sunshine. But that didn’t last long—the very next day, I looked out my window to find daffodils poking out through the inch of snow that had blanketed them overnight, and when I ventured outside I was bundled up in my long winter coat. My flip flops and snow boots now sit side-by-side in my closet, pending each morning’s weather check.
Not knowing what footwear to choose on an April day is the least of our worries when it comes to climate change, but it’s nonetheless a good reminder that something with our weather patterns is very wrong. And it’s also a good reminder that we should be doing everything we to help prevent even more damage from occurring.
When many of us advocate for work flexibility, we often focus on the positive impacts it has on productivity and work/life balance. But today on Earth Day, let’s take special note of the fact that work flexibility is also good for the environment. Here are four reasons why.
- Telecommuting reduces carbon emissions.
1MFWF supporter Global Workplace Analytics reports that telecommuting just half the time could reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tons a year. That’s a reduction equivalent to taking all of New York’s commuters off the road altogether.
- Teleworking and flexible schedules reduce traffic jams.
Sitting in traffic is more than just a driver irritation. Traffic jams idle away nearly 3 billion gallons of gas, and account for 26 million extra tons of greenhouse gases. Telecommuting keeps drivers off the road altogether, and flexible schedules keep drivers off the road during rush hour, making a huge dent in those staggering figures.
- Flexible workers need less office real estate, reducing carbon footprint.
Conventional office floor plans consists of a large open space broken up by interior offices and cubicles. Exterior walls often have windows that do not open. As a result, access to fresh air and natural light is a rarity for most office workers, and artificial lights and cooling/heating/recirculating air vents are used to compensate. Smaller office buildings reduce this energy consumption and waste. Workers on staggered schedules can share office space. Full-time telecommuters don’t need access to a traditional office space at all.
- Teleconference tools can easily replace road and air travel. It used to be that if you needed to meet with a client based across the country, the only practical option was to fly. But with all the online collaboration tools available today—including Skype, Google Hangouts, and 1MFWF supporter Sqwiggle—there’s little need to travel for meetings anymore. It’s now not only possible but also inexpensive and effective to gather even a large team of people together virtually.
This Earth Day, show your commitment to fighting against climate change by joining 1 Million for Work Flexibility.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com