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4 Steps to a Remote Workforce and a Healthier Planet

By 3p Contributor

By David Schwartz

Now more than ever, companies are conscious about the environmental impacts of their policies. Though commuting to and from an energy-guzzling office has long been the norm, many forward-thinking companies use remote work to decrease their carbon footprints and increase employee satisfaction.

For environmental and efficiency reasons, health insurance provider Aetna is a longtime proponent of remote work. Telecommuting helped the company save significantly in real estate costs, and Aetna estimates that eliminating commutes for many of its workers reduces carbon emissions by 23,000 metric tons every year.

Businesses all over the world are beginning to see how remote work options create happier employees and a healthier world -- and boost profits, too. With fewer absences, higher productivity and lower costs, remote work could be the solution to many of the modern workplace’s most persistent challenges.

How to program your remote policy

While remote work isn’t right for everyone, the benefits can be significant. From lowered environmental damage to improved employee retention and larger talent pools, remote work lets companies use the resources of the world to grow without damaging the Earth in the process.

Still, making this transition isn’t easy. Even a part-time remote workforce needs strong leadership and clear policies to keep the operation running smoothly. If you’re considering a remote-work policy for your business, follow these guidelines to guarantee that telecommuting prolongs your company’s growth.

1. Nobody is above the law

Rules should be the same for everyone, whether they’re in the office, on the road or at home. Holding different employees to different standards could lead to resentment, poor collaboration and employee attrition -- precisely the opposite of what remote work is supposed to do.

Yahoo scrapped its remote work policy for just this reason. To avoid getting in a bad situation, make policies uniform for everyone regardless of location.

2. Talk it out

Whether an employee is working two towns over or halfway around the world, daily, in-person chats are hard to come by when you’re not in the same building. Communication is key when people are physically separate.

Schedule regular virtual meetings with remote employees. Ensure everyone uses the same communication software, and pay visits to remote workers from time to time so they feel like valued parts of the company.

3. Allow gray areas

Some employees want to work in the office, some want to work from home, and many want to spend time between the two. Build your system with every type of person in mind. This allows your employees to balance their professional and personal lives without having to go through tedious setup processes every time they change locations.

So many people today benefit from incorporating remote work into their schedules. Companies that neglect to offer the option fail to capitalize on all their available resources.

4. Offer incentives to keep work green

If you want to begin remote work to help the environment, incentivize your employees to help you do it. Electricity bills in America keep rising, and employees who work from home use more electricity than those who leave the lights off all day.

Look for group discounts on energy savers such as energy-efficient light bulbs and smart thermostats. This shows your employees that you care about both their personal work environments and the environment as a whole.

As more companies follow Aetna’s example on remote work, entrepreneurs will have to become more familiar with managing remote employees than ever before. Consider introducing a remote work policy at your company. Employees will happier, and the environment will be healthier.

Image credit: Farrel Nobel via Unsplash

David Schwartz is the founder and president of The Water Scrooge, which offers maintenance-free, tamper-proof water conservation tools to landlords and homeowners. The Water Scrooge is based in Lynbrook, N.Y.

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