The coronavirus pandemic brought with it a massive shift to remote work. Even in late 2021, an estimated 45% of full-time employees work remotely. Depending on your industry, working patterns, and company policies, that number could be much higher. (For Sustain.Life, it’s 100% because we’re fully remote.)
Use our free carbon calculator to calculate remote employee emissions
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With the remote work shift comes a shift in emissions—from the workplace to the home. More remote workers mean more remote work emissions and higher home energy bills. Compared to 2019, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, American households spent $6 billion more on power and used about 21% more water.
Regardless of whether remote work is here to stay, it makes up a more significant portion of many companies’ carbon footprints than ever before.
Much of that energy consumption has been siphoned from commercial spaces, which are less efficient because they typically have one speed: on (or off). They often operate at full HVAC and lighting capacity, even when occupancy is low. According to an article in Bloomberg, “In the work-from-home era, it may be more economical to keep employees at home during particularly hot or cold periods, as managing extremes is an energy-intensive business.”
Great for your company’s carbon footprint, right? Not so fast. Believe it or not, you should account for your remote workers’ GHG emissions in your company’s carbon footprint.
Why should you track your work from home emissions?
If your company has no remote employees, you can stop reading here. But if you’re like Sustain.Life, a fully remote company, or even a portion of your workforce is remote, you’re going to want to continue.
Emissions your employees create while working from home could end up being a significant portion of your overall carbon footprint.
What emissions scope do remote work emissions fall into?
Even though they don’t physically happen at your company’s owned facilities, your employees still create emissions on your behalf. So what contributes to emissions in a home office? Put simply, it’s all the equipment your remote employees use to perform work—computers, monitors, printers, and keyboards, plus lighting, heating, and cooling.
Home office and remote work emissions are scope 3 because your company creates them indirectly.
If you’re asking,” Scope 3? What’s that?,” this quick video will get you off on the right foot about emissions scopes (scope 1, 2, and 3) and why they’re important.
How to calculate and estimate remote work emissions from home offices:
Similar to our commuting emissions calculator, you can track your company’s carbon footprint from its remote employees in a few steps:
1. Find out your company’s total number of employees.
2. Estimate the percentage of your employees that work remotely.
3. If you’re able, collect the total combined wattage for your organization’s home office equipment (our Full Sustainability Platform includes a survey you can send to employees to gather this info). If not, we’ll give you an estimate based on national averages.
4. Sign in to your Sustain.Life account and head to the Emissions Tracker (sign up for a free Emissions Management account). Go to the home office equipment emissions calculator and enter the data you gathered.
5. That’s it. Sustain.Life automatically calculates your carbon footprint in metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), and you can calculate this each month or do it in quarterly or annual batches.
Once you’ve measured your employee’s emissions from their home office, it’s time to think about reducing them as much as possible. Thinking about the equipment they use—for example, you could purchase ENERGY STAR-rated equipment, purchase a carbon offset subscription, or even provide incentives for switching to renewable energy to cut down on emissions. It’s also an opportunity to engage your remote employees—ask them how they’d like to build a more efficient home office and what support they’d like.
Sign up for a demo to learn how you can use our platform to manage, offset, and reduce your employee emissions on and off-site.