A few months ago, teleworking was a taboo subject, but the health crisis has caused teleworking to explode in almost all companies, to the point that some of them have decided to make it the norm.
As it reduces daily travel, it is naturally perceived as an effective lever for reducing a company's CO2 emissions.
However, this is not always the case. Indeed, the ADEME has just published a very comprehensive report, concluding that teleworking can lead to various increases in energy consumption.
Here is a list of good practices to put in place in your company to ensure that it will reduce the carbon footprint.
1. Understand how your employees get to work every day
Yes, for this first good practice you are asked to work.
Because if you want to make teleworking more common as a way of reducing emissions, it is first crucial to quantify the carbon impact of your employees' daily travel.
Indeed, the main positive effect of telework in terms of CO2 emissions is concentrated on the reduction of emissions related to daily travel. Thus, the challenge of the exercise will be to ensure that the reduction in commuting emissions is greater than the increase in emissions caused by the introduction of telework.
So, if the majority of your employees come by car, there is a good chance that teleworking will help you reduce your carbon footprint.
But if a majority of your employees come to the office on foot, by bike or by metro, then teleworking is likely to increase your emissions.
However, there is one case where these rules may not apply: it is when your employer 'adjusts' the size of the office according to the number of employees on site/teleworking. We'll talk about this below!
2. Make a personalised telework plan per country
One of the most impactful rebound effects of telework is what ADEME calls the "Housing" effect. This is the increase in household electricity consumption attributed to the employee's professional activity.
Indeed, working from home will lead to an increase in heating, lighting, internet, electrical equipment, etc. The ADEME estimates that teleworking results in an increase in electricity consumption of 7.5kWh per day.
As the carbon mix is different in each country, here is the carbon impact per country of this "rebound effect":
- France: +20.7kgCO2e per day
- Germany: +167.1kgCO2 per day
- China: +278.7kgCO2 per day!
The benefits of teleworking on the carbon footprint are therefore different depending on the country in which one is located.
3. Reduce the use of video conferencing
An essential tool for teleworking, videoconferencing requires a lot of energy-consuming servers. They therefore emit de facto greenhouse gases.
According to a study by Thierry Leboucq in 2020, one minute of videoconferencing emits about 1g of CO2 per minute.
However, the disparities between use with and without video are fundamental, as video conferencing without video emits on average 2 to 3 times less CO2 (depending on the application used).
In short, for small everyday meetings, don't hesitate to cut the video!
4. Extend the life of your IT equipment or switch to refurbished equipment
To ensure optimal comfort for teleworking employees, companies have not hesitated to invest in computer equipment.
Indeed, according to a study conducted by BNP Paribas 3 Step IT, 83% of French companies bought additional equipment during the health crisis. Moreover, the generalization of teleworking will lead to a doubling of certain computer equipment for comfort (double screen, ergonomic chair...)
In order to minimise this impact, increasing the lifespan of your IT equipment is one of the most effective levers. To do this, you can opt for a systematic approach to repairing your systems (many IT suppliers offer this option) or opt for a supplier of refurbished IT equipment.
This advice is also valid outside of teleworking 😉
5. Favouring the "Flex Office".
By Flex Office we mean all "office on demand" solutions
Are your employees 50% teleworking? Why would you keep 100% of your original square footage? You might consider reducing your space by 50%, and renting the remaining 50% to another company that is 50% telecommuting.
These types of solutions, although still marginal, are nevertheless growing rapidly and represent, according to ADEME, the most effective solution for maximising the positive effects of telework.
However, its implementation requires some work, since for many companies it involves a change of premises and culture. In addition, it requires a certain amount of organisation, as the company will have to manage the schedules of its employees and the office space available.
That's it! If you manage to put all this together, it's already very good. 👏
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