REES Africa
4 min readMay 23, 2023


The Environmental Impacts of Hybrid Working

Hybrid working is the most recent business operational model where employees can flexibly work from home and in their office space. The beauty of this system is that it offers balance and eliminates some of the excesses of remote working. This is because the employees get to enjoy the much-desired work-from-home and many employers also enjoy their most preferred in-person collaboration and interaction for increased productivity. Over 90% of employees revealed that they would prefer to continue to work remotely or in a hybrid setting and more organizations are adopting this system. This means that the hybrid working system has come to stay.

Beyond these business and personal, hybrid working offers some notable advantages to the planet; it helps companies to meet their Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) targets which are in fact, good for the environment.

The environmental benefits include;

Less Commuting

Hybrid working cuts down the need for workers to commute to work every day as employees can operate from satellite workspaces in their homes. A study shows that by 2030, many US workers would have saved up to 960 million commuting hours through the hybrid work model. Time is a very valuable resource and the time saved can be put into other profitable uses. In addition, workers can go for greener transport options such as public transport, use of bicycles or even walking.

Less Carbon Footprint

According to Insight, the traditional five-day commute of workers has the highest carbon footprint. Hybrid workers have reduced commuting distance as they are more often close to their house and have less use for their cars and this translates to savings of over a hundred million tons of carbon. Employees working remotely have fewer emissions per square meter than offices.

Less Waste

Many businesses produce a lot of waste and hybrid working helps companies to easily adopt more eco-friendly processes. This ranges from the reduction in paper use for official purposes to packaging food and other deliveries. Online collaborations communicate via emails, calls and other virtual tools which limits the need for printed documents. Employees eat at home and would have less need for food deliveries in single-use plastics.

Less Energy, Resource and Facility Use

Buildings are said to be responsible for over 40% of global energy consumption. Hybrid working allows for thoughtful and efficient designs, and space management to actual use. It eliminates the need to invest in so many resources and facilities to meet the needs of so many people which may turn out to be overestimated. This means that modern office spaces make room for efficiency in business investments and operations and cost savings.

How to Make Hybrid Working More Sustainable

Is hybrid working a clear win for the environment? Not at the moment. There are ongoing debates that hybrid working may not offer as many environmental effects as we assume. Organizations may be becoming more sustainable while employees working in their homes are becoming less sustainable. This is because we cannot account for all the work-related behaviours of the employees working from home. The aggregate of unsustainable individual behaviours may turn out to be even more unsustainable than the traditional workspace.

While there is a reduction in work-related travel, there could be an increase in non-work travel and short trips. Each employee’s workspace becomes a private sphere, subject to individual actions. Employers may to some extent regulate employees’ sustainability attitudes at work but this is almost impossible in the hybrid setting.

Here’s what we can do to make hybrid work more beneficial to the environment

  1. Companies must stay committed to learning and Adapting
  2. Work with a clear purpose and strategy
  3. Provide employees with eco-friendly accessories and other perks
  4. Implement sustainable hybrid workspace technology such as carbon emission tracking tools for both remote and office workspaces
  5. Facility managers need to analyse user-behaviour patterns during busy and off hours to optimize resource use
  6. Prioritize sustainability awareness for all employees
  7. Employees should carry out a self-audit to monitor and adjust their resource consumption

Environmental sustainability and hybrid work are two major trends that businesses must encounter. This brings up the challenge to create a balance between sustainability and operation modules. We all must come up with more innovations to increase sustainability awareness and adherence by both individuals and businesses globally. Ultimately, environmental sustainability can only be achieved when everyone adopts eco-friendly practices whenever and wherever.

Writer: Christiana Ugbem

Photo: Wurkr blog



REES Africa

Join this space as REES Advocates keep you up to date with the impact we make in combating energy poverty and promoting environmental sustainability in Africa.