As the pandemic dramatically shifted our traditional work structure to remote workplaces across industries, our post-pandemic world will evolve to “hybrid workplaces.” In this new arrangement, companies will provide more flexibility for their employees – enabling the option to continue to work remotely or return to a physical co-located space in the office, or a combination of both.
While there are many positive aspects to the new hybrid workplace, one topic getting increased attention is the positive impact of collaborative remote technologies on the environment as it allows for the reduction in commuter transportation and corresponding reduction in harmful emissions from vehicles and buildings.
Given this trend, the onus is now on companies to provide robust network access and remote collaboration capabilities for their employees so that they can efficiently perform their work from any location.
Company boards and executive management teams are increasingly being pressed for their Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) policies by shareholders and analysts. Company plans for the hybrid workplace and their impact on reducing carbon emissions have become important considerations towards those ESG goals. And the good news is that the latest collaboration and AR technologies can now facilitate these positive changes.
Over the past year of pandemic-forced remote work, we have seen how once polluted cities have significantly cleaned up, and wildlife has become more active from the Grand Canyon all the way to leafy suburban neighborhoods. These positive changes are just some of the effects we are noticing from a carbon emissions-reduced world. A significant reason for these impacts is due to restrictions enforced by the pandemic – a large one being traffic.
We have now seen first-hand how remote work capabilities and remote network access have played a significant role in cleaner air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Additionally, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute states that 40 percent of carbon emissions in the US come from energy use for buildings – and of course the output is far less for individual homes than for commercial buildings.
As the hybrid workplace structure evolves, we’ll see employees back to the office, but perhaps just for two or three days a week. This reduction of commuter congestion on our roads will make an impact on reducing carbon emissions. Perhaps less well known,
but equally important, is the harmful effects from cement emissions which had been on the rise. It follows that a reduced amount of new corporate buildings constructed would lower cement emissions dramatically.
In order to sustain this positive environmental trend, companies will need to continue the hybrid workplace so that we have less of a need for office buildings and fewer commuters on the road. But employers will want to ascertain how to best provide their employees with the same high degree of support.
Thus, we’re seeing an increased adoption of remote collaboration technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) tools like smart glasses or 3D object tracking from smartphone devices to provide employees with the tools to do their jobs effectively while remote.
AR provides a new functionality for the service industry. For example, service technicians are able to assist customer devices remotely through the use of smart glasses or smartphones and 3D object tracking. While using smart phones, technicians will be able to see exactly what their customers see and explain precisely what to do to solve the issue without actually having to travel to customer locations.
A recent study we conducted found that remote access technology into service related solution applications alleviated transportation so significantly that depending on the parameters, we can verify the amount of avoided emissions can lie between 20 to 60mt CO2e.
Whether in field service or remote office environments, remote access provides new, unparalleled connectivity that can lead to faster, more effective problem resolution, and most importantly, will keep both provider and customer in their own hybrid working environment and play a substantial role in reducing emissions.
AR devices, such as smart glasses, are being explored for their ability to make video-conferencing more immersive and dynamic. For those who were accustomed to working side-by-side with coworkers and hosting meetings around a physical table, augmented reality provides incredible capabilities to virtually and more realistically replicate the workplace environment for the user inside their home.
Additionally, as seen in our recent study, remote access into corporate servers and desktops using remote solutions has already shown to alleviate 37 megatons of CO2 per year. That number is likely to grow substantially with more hybrid work.
We can hope to see continued improvements to our clean air and wildlife if companies promote hybrid structures and tap into the innovative capabilities remote technologies offer.
By taking even a few steps to adopting AR and other remote technologies in hybrid work structures, companies will not only set themselves up for success, but will also help to reduce carbon emissions, without sacrificing economic productivity.