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The Environmental Implications of the Return to the Office

Telecommuting can save energy and reduce emissions — unless it doesn’t. A new tool can help companies measure workplace carbon emissions, and figure out if going remote is easier on the planet.  

Avoiding this place and working from home isn’t necessarily greener. 

Avoiding this place and working from home isn’t necessarily greener. 

Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

A lot is hanging on the return to the office.

In addition to the economic fate of downtown business districts and local transit agencies that rely on workers and commuters, the expected shift away from pandemic-era remote work policies that several major employers have announced could have climate implications, too. A calculator developed by Watershed Technology Inc. shows how transitioning to a fully remote or hybrid workspace could reduce a company’s overall carbon emissions — but at the expense of increasing their employees’ own footprints.