How Remote Work Supports Sustainable Cities & Communities
Perhaps one of the top benefits of remote work is the ability to potentially work from any location of your choosing. While the reasons to live and work in a certain locale are varied, the impacts on our cities, communities, and the environment are significant.
Back in 2015, the United Nations set 17 goals, called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.”
In particular, goal 11 is related to creating sustainable cities and communities. Of this goal the UN says, “Many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity without straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure, and rising air pollution within cities.”
At FlexJobs we believe that remote work can answer the call of this SDG, and many others. Let’s take a closer look at how remote work can lead to more sustainable and resilient cities.
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
Affordable Housing and Choice of Location
One aim of this SDG is to “ensure access for all to adequate, safe, and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.” When the majority of professional-level jobs are located in larger cities, workers are either forced to live in expensive cities or endure a long commute from a cheaper location. Either option leads to increased air pollution and negative environmental impacts or reduced financial means to live and contribute to the economy.
With increasing housing prices in many cities across the U.S., working remotely eases the need to live in city centers and allows options for housing locations that are further from the office and much more affordable.
With a remote job, professionals can live in smaller or rural areas, potentially helping to expose that area to different avenues of wealth and mentorship; especially valuable for young people who are developing personal and professional interests.
Robyn M., a FlexJobs reader, echoed this sentiment when commenting on how remote work would make her life better: “Better is… having access to better economies than the one you live in, so that you don’t have to move. Allowing you to still reside and contribute to your current community.”
The UN predicts 5 billion people are projected to live in cities by 2030. Working a remote job and being able to live in a smaller town or rural area can greatly reduce rapid urbanization, which the UN says is “exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health.”
Improving Environment and Traffic Conditions
Creating safe and sustainable cities also involves air quality and road safety. Remote workers who no longer commute to work can help reduce traffic congestion and road wear and tear, reduce greenhouse gasses emitted, and reduce oil costs.
In Boston, Governor Charlie Baker is looking to ease traffic congestion by offering tax breaks for each employee that a company lets work remotely. Less traffic and more money back in the pockets of businesses can contribute to a safer and more sustainable city.
FlexJobs reader Karen had this to say about the environmental savings of working remotely:
“Being able to work from home for me, not only saves immensely on my daily carbon emissions, it also allows for me to teach my children the importance of taking care of this planet that we live on. Whether it’s taking them on a walk to pick up trash or helping our community plant trees for our local memorial park, those small teachable moments are more than I’d be usually be allowed. Every little thing counts.”
Elizabeth H. also mentioned the environmental and mental benefits of remote work:
“…People are finally realizing how tremendously harmful it has become to the environment having thousands of cars travel daily from point A to point B and back. In my case, having the possibility of working from home not only prevents another car from polluting, but I am also in a better mood from not having gone out there to sit in traffic for hours.”
FlexJobs, which has been a virtual company with no physical office since 2007, recently had its environmental impact measured due to remote work. Over the course of 11 years, our remote workforce has avoided 952,198 vehicle miles traveled and eliminated 64,075 vehicle trips.
We’ve also saved:
- $131,368 in traffic accident costs
- 50.49 metric tons of air quality
- 46,906 gallons of gas
Remote work can lead to tremendous environmental savings, which also results in monetary savings for both employers and employees alike.
Learn More about Remote Work’s Impact on the UN’s SDGs
FlexJobs has a full break down on how remote work can assist with many of the SDGs. Check it out for more details.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
Tags: telecommuting benefits
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