All Things Upwork
April 22, 2009 by James Waters

We like Earth Day around here. We usually talk about how oDesk benefits small & medium sized businesses and remote contractors on this blog, but we feel like we’re offering something for the planet, too.  Remote workers do a lot of things, from software development to customer support, but one thing they don’t do is commute.

The average solo car commuter produces more than a thousand pounds of CO2 per month.  A lot of hot air, yes, and then add in all those disposable coffee cups, heating and cooling the cubicle farms, the reams of paper, the gallons of printer toner, the cleaning agents … on and on. The environmental impact of the average office of 100 workers adds up to more than 650 tons of CO2 annually, and a lot of landfill space.

Working from home doesn’t eliminate all that — you still need heat, and maybe the occasional printout. But you drink from a real mug. In general, working from home is much more efficient. You’re getting dual use out of your living space, and not sucking added resources for a sprawling office park surrounded by endless fields of obsessively striped asphalt.

If being green is important to your company, then start by buying recycled-content paper towels. But take it a step further: Encourage telecommuting. Since last Earth Day, oDesk has helped 10,693 software developers from around the world work from home. In that group, Americans alone accounted for nearly 2,000 individuals, saving an estimated 600,000 gallons of gasoline. That day you were running late and couldn’t believe how light the traffic was?  That was us.

Want to see what sort of impact your office can have on the environment? Use the Green Office’s calculator to tally up your environmental impact based on common office habits and consumption. Rideshare’s Commute Calculator tells you how much your driving habits are costing the environment (and your wallet).

Saving the planet also saves the bottom line. Telecommuting cuts gas prices, reduces office rent, utility and supply bills, and even makes workers happier and healthier, containing the cost of sick days. We hope you’ll think about how telecommuting can work for you.  Go ahead and bookmark this post — just don’t print it out!

Happy Earth Day!