If you’re managing a remote or hybrid team, you may think the emissions produced
by your workforce are fairly minimal or don’t contribute towards your organisations’
This is a common misconception, however it is now widely accepted that for
companies operating hybrid and remote teams, the emissions created by employees
working from home (WFH) should be included in the measurement of a business’
carbon footprint, in the same way they would be included if they were working from a
centralised office. It’s important to understand the carbon footprint of your remote
team as it can have a material impact on your company’s carbon footprint. For
example, while emissions from commuting into the office may be lower, it’s estimated
that home energy usage could be increase by between 7% and 23% (compared with
a day working at the office).
Lowering your company’s carbon footprint is not just good for the environment, but
also good for business. More than ever, customers expect brands to act sustainably,
employees want to work for businesses aligned with their values and investors are
looking for evidence that a business is considering its climate risks.
So what can you do, as a small business owner, to help your remote team manage
and lower their carbon footprint?
Educate your team about how they can help
The most important principle for managing a low-emissions workforce is to empower
your team to make informed sustainable choices. With greater freedom around
working location, comes less control on the part of employers, including some of the
biggest emissions contributors like energy usage and transport. This is why it’s
essential to educate your team on what they can do to have a positive impact on the
A great way to start getting your team engaged in climate action is to first find out
where their passions and interests lie with a simple staff survey. Ask your team which
areas of sustainability most interest them and how confident they feel about their
current knowledge and capability when it comes to living sustainably. You can then
use what you learn to design a program of initiatives to bring your team together to
learn and take action together – even if they’re not ‘together’! This could include things like virtual workshops or webinars run by climate experts or mini competitions
between teams that encourage sustainable habits.
Help your team switch to green energy at home
A WFH-employee generates emissions via the electricity they use in their home. The
impact of this electricity usage will depend on two factors – where the energy is
coming from (i.e. renewable or fossil-fuel sources), and how efficiently the energy is
Help your team choose ‘greener’ energy, consider incentives such as vouchers for
those who switch, and your team’s WFH emissions will reduce drastically, almost
immediately. The Australian Government’s Green Power initiative, or The Green
Electricity Guide from Greenpeace provide more information on great low-emissions
You can also encourage your team to adopt habits like passive heating and cooling
tactics at home and turning off their technology at the end of the day – make it part of
your team culture to celebrate conscious-energy usage!
Encourage low-emissions commuting
Even if your team primarily works remotely, you’ll likely want to catch up in person
from time to time. When you do, prioritise low-emissions transport options as travel
can be one of the biggest contributors to a business’ emissions.
The best no-emission option is always to walk or cycle to work events or meetings.
You can make walking or cycling more accessible and attractive to your team
through things like the careful selection of your office or meet-up locations to ensure
they are as convenient as possible, ensuring there are secure places to lock up
bikes, or offering end-of-trip facilities so your team can freshen up before starting the
Public transport and electric vehicles are great low-emissions transport options. By
locating your offices close to public transport, offering public transport discounts or
installing EV charging stations at your offices you can make these options easier to
adopt. There are also car hire services that allow you to filter by electric vehicles, or
that exclusively offer an electric fleet which are great options for team members
visiting from interstate.
By implementing these simple tips, your remote team will reduce its environmental
impact in no time!
Joanna Auburn, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Trace