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How work from home can curb pollution and revive nature

Climate change and environmental degradation are making the world unfit to live in. It is the responsibility of us, the humans to make amends and make the word a better place to live in. Remote work may play a big part in this restoration act.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill, literally. Empty roads, deserted industrial zones, secluded office complexes and isolated workforce portray a new urban landscape.  

Except a few essential services, most enterprises have either suspended or running remotely their operations for the time being. With only a small percentage of the workforce commuting to workplace currently, we all have got a break from our daily dose of traffic snarls and polluted air.

This temporary dip in the air pollution levels is probably the only positive emerging out of the current crisis. Taking a cue from this, environmentalists, in fact, may demand governments and organizations to make remote working mandatory, at least for a certain percentage of their workforces, as means to fight air pollution in the post-coronavirus world.   

Improved Air-Quality:

Table showing the classification of air pollution levels based on AIr Quality Index

The Air Quality Index (AQI), which reflects the quality of air, of many Indian cities has been degrading year after year. The table gives the classification of AQI as per the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Few Indian cities fall under ‘Good’ or ‘Moderate’ category. Most of the Indian metros consistently remain well below healthy standards, often reaching hazardous levels with Delhi-NCR being the worst-affected. Delhi’s AQI went as high as 450 in December 2019, making life extremely difficult.

But right now, during the nation-wide lockdown, the AQI of all major cities, including Delhi, are well below 100 and are categorized as Good or Moderate. We only have the nation-wide lockdown, to thank for this.

Curbing Greenhouse Emissions and Controlling Global Warming:

Apart from improving air-quality, reducing vehicular commute will control the emission of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. The ever-increasing release of greenhouse gases into atmosphere makes the average temperature of the world go high, icebergs melt, sea levels rise making hundreds of cities uninhabitable and taking thousands of lives.

Although global warming has been often spoken about, it cannot be controlled unless granular level efforts are made. By implementing work-from-policies, businesses reduce an employee’s need to use his/her car or bike, which will translate into reduction of greenhouse emission, as vehicular emission is responsible for about one-fourth of total greenhouse emissions. If millions of people across the world need not use their fossil fuel dependent vehicles for commuting to office, we would make strides in controlling global warming.

Reduced usage of the exhaustible fossil fuels:

Fossil fuels are exhaustible, and over utilization of them will leave the future generations with no fossil fuels for use. If we continue the current rate of utilization, we would be running out of fossil fuels within the end of this century. We still have a lot of fossil fuel dependent industries and economies which will all cease to exist if this happens. It is our responsibility to prevent the exhaustion of fossil fuels and use it wisely and economically as and when needed. If employers allow their employees to work from home, the exhaustion of fossil fuels can be delayed well beyond this century.

Reduction in Waste Generation and Electricity Usage:

Apart from improving AQI, letting employees work from home can also reduce waste generation in office campuses. If all meetings and conversations happen in virtual space, then the need for any kind of physical resource would be totally eliminated as more digital resources are likely to be used. This would in-turn, reduce the waste generated by businesses.

Electricity usage would also go down, if employees are allowed to work from home. Making employees conserve electricity in office premises is a very difficult task, and most people do not find the motivation to conserve electricity anywhere other than their homes. When working from home, employees would feel the need to use minimal electricity as he will be directly impacted by his electricity usage.

Thus, waste generation and electricity usage can also plummet, by letting people work from home.

These are the positive impact that a wide-spread implementation of work from home policy can have on the environment. If we are to make this world a better place and leave behind a good planet for our future generations to live in, enterprises must consider implementing a regulated organization-wide work from home policy.

The only thing standing between enterprises and work from home policy:

The pandemic has shown us all, most jobs or roles do not require employees to commute to offices. The penetration of high-speed fiber optic broadband internet among the city masses means that work can be done from home without much technical difficulties. The only concern standing between most organizations and work from home policy is the provision of a secure remote access to corporate resources. As a matter of fact, deploying a highly secure remote access for employees to access resources from anywhere, any time is a very easily done job when done by the right people.