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Remote Work and Its Impact on Scope 3 Emissions

Business meeting on video call during COVID-19 lockdown

In recent years, the global workforce has experienced a seismic shift with the rise of remote work. While the benefits of remote work are evident, it has also led to increased costs and emissions for employees working from home due to things like increased energy and data usage. This article explores how the surge in remote work has led to a significant shift in company emissions from Scope 1 and 2 to Scope 3, and the solutions you can take with YellowTin to solve this .

Understanding the Scopes of Emissions

Before delving into the shift in emissions, it’s crucial to understand the three scopes of emissions measurement:

  • Scope 1: These emissions encompass direct emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by a company, such as on-site fuel combustion, company-owned vehicles, and manufacturing processes.
  • Scope 2: Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions resulting from the generation of purchased electricity, heat, or steam consumed by a company.
  • Scope 3: These are a broader category of emissions that include all other indirect emissions, such as those from business travel, supply chain activities, employee commute and work-from-home energy usage.
The Remote Work Boom and Emission Dynamics

The shift towards remote work has had a notable impact on a company’s emissions profile. Here’s how this shift has occurred:

  • Reduction in Scope 1 and 2 Emissions: With employees working from home, there has been a decrease in on-site fuel combustion, office energy consumption, and the need for centralized heating and cooling. As a result, Scope 1 and 2 emissions have declined.
  • Rise in Scope 3 Emissions: While remote work has led to a reduction in direct office-related emissions, it has prompted an increase in Scope 3 emissions. One significant contributor to Scope 3 emissions is employee household electricity usage. As more people are working from home, home energy consumption, water usage, and data usage have increased, leading to higher Scope 3 emissions. 
  • Challenges in Emission Tracking: The transition to remote work has posed challenges in accurately measuring and tracking Scope 3 emissions. Unlike Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which are under a company’s immediate control, Scope 3 emissions involve multiple variables, such as employee’s work-from-home setup, household electricity source, and location. As a result, companies are grappling with ways to accurately measure and report these emissions.
The Way Forward: Mitigating Scope 3 Emissions:

When it comes to remote employees, companies can take several steps to help them reduce their Scope 3 emissions:

  • Energy-Efficient Technology: Provide guidelines for energy-efficient home office setups, including recommendations for energy-saving computers, monitors, lighting, and appliances. A platform such as YellowTin can help employees find energy saving appliances like smart powerstrips and thermostats. 
  • Education and Awareness: Raise awareness among remote employees about the importance of Scope 3 emissions reduction. Provide educational resources and guidelines on how they can contribute to the company’s sustainability goals. Through a platform such as YellowTin, employees can set goals to reduce carbon emissions while saving money on their energy bills.  
  • Performance Incentives: Tie Scope 3 emissions reduction efforts to performance incentives or rewards for remote employees. You can also provide employees rebates through tools such as the YellowTin platform as an incentive to lower emissions. 
  • Green Energy Sources: Encourage employees to switch to a renewable energy community solar program or to install solar panels on their homes to power their workspace. Through the YellowTin platform, employees can connect with an energy expert to explore renewable energy options at home. 

The rise of remote work has reshaped the emissions landscape for companies. While there’s been a positive impact on reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions due to reduced office-related activities, the surge in Scope 3 emissions cannot be overlooked. To address this shift, companies must adopt innovative strategies that encourage sustainable options for employees working from home, track remote employee emissions, and reward employees for taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. By partnering with YellowTin, companies can reduce their Scope 3 emissions and position themselves as leaders in sustainability by giving employees the tools needed to track their emissions and make a plan towards a more sustainable work-from-home setup. With an average annual savings of $4,000 per employee on YellowTin, employees can reduce their environmental impact while saving money. Schedule a demo with YellowTin to understand how you can take next steps towards your net zero targets!