Aetna, headquartered here in Hartford, is showing that good business, happy employees and a reduction in a corporate carbon footprint can go hand-in-hand.
The insurer, along with Xerox and Dell, recently announced participation in “FlexJobs,” which reduces the environmental impact of commuting by allowing for remote work.
The online platform functions like this: By offering flexible schedule, part-time, and freelance jobs, listing in over 100 career categories, and opportunities ranging from entry-level to executive. They source jobs for their members, whether that’s on the employer end or the contractor end. “FlexJobs offers job-seekers a safe, easy, and efficient way to find professional and legitimate flexible job listings,” says their spokesperson. FlexJobs is also a partner in the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative, which promotes work “flexibility.”
According to one estimate, the three companies cumulatively saved 95,294 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions last year — equivalent to taking 20,000 passenger vehicles off the road. FlexJobs espouses that remote and flexible jobs/ telecommuting positively impacts the environment, resulting in reduced congestion, minimized construction, lowered pollution emissions, reduced strain on transportation systems, less fuel consumption and improved air quality.
At Aetna, where teleworking has been part of the workplace for 20 years, over 43 percent of its employees engage in some form of work-at-home or other virtual work arrangement. In 2014 alone these teleworkers reduced Aetna’s carbon footprint by preventing 127 million miles of driving, saving 5.3 million gallons of gas and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 46,700 metric tons.
“The cost savings to both employers and employees tend to dominate discussions around telecommuting and flexible work benefits, but the positive impact flexible work arrangements have on the environment is equally compelling,” says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.
Other ways to work at home can include employer arrangements that allow for say, one day of at-home work, as many more companies are doing these days. After all, who really needs to show up for “Casual Friday” when one can avoid the commute and write that report from her living room?
The Total Impact of Flexible Work on the Environment, in numbers:
According to the Global Workplace Analytics, if employees who held telework-compatible jobs (50% of the workforce) and wanted to work at home (79% of the workforce) did so just half of the time, consumers would save $20 billion at the pumps.
The U.S. as a whole would, according to FlexJobs:
- Gas: Use: Reduce greenhouse gases by 54 million tons – the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road for a year
- Oil: Save over 640 million barrels of oil valued at over $64 billion
- Roads: Reduce wear and tear on highways by over 119 billion miles a year
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, telecommuting also saves 9 to 14 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year—roughly the amount of energy needed to power 1 million U.S. households annually.
There are also other overlooked eco-friendly benefits of a telecommuting workforce:
-Offices need less office space, build smaller buildings, and eliminate the energy use associated with heating, cooling, and electrifying these unneeded spaces.
-Travel associated with work is cut-down in favor of teleconferencing, online training courses, and Skype meetings, resulting in fewer flights and less carbon emission.
-Telecommuters use less paper, opting instead for digital files like PDFs and other electronic documents.
-Using less paper means using less storage space, again cutting down on a company’s need to construct and maintain office or storage buildings.
For more information on FlexJobs and/or to sign up yourself or your company/employees, please visit their website.