When companies sent workers to work from home last year, it was for one urgent reason.
And that was to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
As it turns out, telework is an all-win proposition.
Employees became happier because, for one, it’s now easier for them to achieve more or less a balance between family and work.
Employers are happy too, as their workers are more productive.
A new paper by Statistics Canada synthesizes what have been learned so far from this experience.
One key point that emerges from this is that a full transition to work from home for jobs that can be done outside employment sites is beneficial for the planet.
The study released Wednesday (October 27) stated that this lead to a reduction in Canada of annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) of about 8.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent due to commuting.
To explain, a megatonne is equivalent to one million tonnes.
Authors Tahsin Mehdi and René Morissette wrote that the 8.6-megatonne reduction represents six percent of direct greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian households in 2015.
Also, the potential decrease is equivalent to 11 percent of household emissions attributed to transportation in the same year.
Mehdi and Morissettee’s paper “Working from home in Canada: What have we learned so far?” noted that roughly 40 percent of Canadian jobs can be done from home.
The study drew from an April 22, 2021 paper written by Morissette, Zechuan Deng, and Derek Messacar.
This earlier document was titled “Working from home: Potential implications for public transit and greenhouse gas emissions”.
The authors noted that before the pandemic, about “one in three Canadian workers held jobs that could plausibly be done from home”.
However, they “usually did not work from home most of the time”.
The authors also noted that a full transition to work from home could save these new teleworkers an average of one hour that is usually spent for their commute.
The April 2021 paper stated that 39.1 percent of Canadians worked from home in the last week of March 2020.
This marks a significant increase from 15 percent of workers who “did so at least some of the time before the pandemic began”.