In recognition of Earth Day, FlexJobs highlights how telecommuting policies are both beneficial to a company’s bottom line as well as an important long-term strategy to protect the environment. Remote workforces contribute to environmentally sustainable workplaces by reducing congestion, lowering fuel consumption, minimizing construction, lessening pollution emissions, reducing the strain on transportation systems and improving air quality.

"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.”

The average U.S. worker commutes 18.8 miles to work and back and 86 percent of commuters commute by car (76.6 percent drive alone). Switching to full-time telecommuting would reduce each person’s work-related carbon footprint by 98 percent.According to Global Workplace Analytics, if workers in the U.S. who held telework-compatible jobs (50 percent) and wanted to (79 percent), worked from home just two days a week, the U.S. as a whole would:

  • Gas Use: Save nearly 52 million gallons of gas, the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking approximately 88,000 vehicles off the road per year. 
  • Oil: Save over 2.6 million barrels of oil, valued at over $264 million 
  • Roads: Reduce wear and tear on highways by over 1 billion miles a year

Xerox and Dell, two prime examples of companies that have embraced remote work, specifically illustrate how flexible work policies can positively impact the environment while also doing smart business.

In early 2015, Dell embarked on a study of its employee base to develop a more granular understanding of employee commute patterns and the sustainability-related effects of its remote work initiatives. The average Dell U.S. employee, whether through a formal program or informal arrangement, works remotely 9.7 times per month and 

  • Avoided using 175 gallons of gas, at a savings of $339 per year 
  • Saw a reduction in their greenhouse gas footprint of a little over one metric ton of CO2e per year

Collectively through remote work Dell employees: 

  • Saved over $1,000,000 in fuel costs 
  • Avoided 136 million miles of travel 
  • Avoided over 35,000 metric tons of CO2e per year

“Dell continues to see enormous environmental and social benefits from our work flexibility program, Connected Workplace,” said John Pflueger, Environmental Strategist at Dell. “Data from our U.S. worker study suggests that our team members are saving money and resources and appreciate the flexibility to work where, when and how they’re most productive. We’ll continue to explore the benefits of work flexibility and look forward to helping our customers do the same.”

Xerox estimates that its growing remote workforce in 2015 avoided more than 43,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent to the energy used by nearly 4,000 homes annually. Approximately 8,600 U.S. employees form the Xerox Virtual Office program, up 600 employees from the previous year and comprising 11 percent of its U.S. domestic workforce. Remote employees at Xerox: 

  • Avoided driving an estimated 99 million miles
  • Saved 4.9 million gallons of fuel

The environmental savings are greater when Xerox considers that other employees from its global workforce of 140,000 work remotely an as-needed basis.

“With a history of innovation, including the introduction of remote work as part of our culture nearly half a century ago, Xerox has continued in the forefront of environmental sustainability,” said Wendi Latko, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Xerox. “Our environmental strategy spans our entire business--from operations and offerings to how we engage with customers and employees--to make positive contributions to the communities in which we operate and to the world.”

Companies can calculate the environmental savings of its telecommuting workforce by using the Global Workplace Analytics Calculator.

Job-seekers looking for find job opportunities that are environmentally-preferred telecommuting jobs at FlexJobs, as well asflexible jobs specifically in the Green & Environmental career field.

Resources to make workspaces more environmentally sustainable can be found here:

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About FlexJobs 
FlexJobs is the leading online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs. With flexible job listings in over 50 career categories, and opportunities ranging from entry-level to executive and freelance to full-time, FlexJobs offers job seekers a safe, easy, and efficient way to find professional and legitimate flexible job listings. Having helped over one million people in their job searches, FlexJobs has appeared on CNN and Marketplace Money and in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, and hundreds of other trusted media outlets. FlexJobs' Founder & CEO Sara Sutton Fell has also launched two additional partner sites, and 1 Million for Work Flexibility, to help provide education and awareness about the viability and benefits of remote working and work flexibility. Sutton Fell is also the creator of The TRaD* Works Conference (*Telecommuting, Remote, & Distributed), dedicated to helping companies leverage the benefits of telecommuting, remote and distributed teams.