To combine travel and sustainability, we tried working remotely on the train

How do our working conditions affect the environment?

What role do businesses play in promoting low-carbon mobility?

Since the pandemic, remote working – whether partial or complete – has become the norm in many companies. Why not take the next step and encourage your team to work remotely on the train?

This article is based on our personal experience at Flockeo and our parent company Murmuration: from our first steps towards remote work on the train to the benefits of this flexibility. It will then look at the overall impact of remote work, and try to provide some nuances.

The train to further destinations: Greece

Our tipping point was Greece. In 2022, the Murmuration engineering team was invited to a consortium in Athens. We flew there and decided to test the return by train and ferry. This was the first time we’d travelled so far without flying. It was also an opportunity to stay longer and to try out what’s known as teletravel: a unique one-month experience combining vacation and remote work!

Staying in Greece for a month not only enabled us to enjoy some wonderful cultural discoveries, but also to access new business opportunities. We could also observe the initiatives implemented in Greece to preserve the environment and promote sustainable tourism.

In short, unforgettable memories, an enriching stay both professionally and personally and above all… a determination to continue the adventure of travelling without flying!

Our route without getting on a plane:

We chose an itinerary combining a ferry from Patras (Greece) to Ancona (Italy), followed by trains from Ancona to Toulouse. The advantage was that we were able to take advantage of this 3-day trip to work remotely on the train and to visit Ancona and Milan.

However, we calculated our carbon footprint and were a little disappointed… While the train is unbeatable, the environmental impact of the ferry is more difficult to assess, as there are too many variables to take into account: the age of the boat, the length of the crossing, the transport of one’s own car, the use of a cabin, of the restaurant and of the ferry’s other services…

Toulouse – Athens: carbon footprint and plane/ferry comparison

To calculate the carbon footprint of our trip, we used Bon Pote‘s simulator, which has the advantage to provide a short article to help you understand the results.

Did you know?

2-tonne target

According the Paris Agreement (2015) we must “sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.”. To achieve this, we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, in particular to 2 tonnes LaTeX Math equivalent per year and per inhabitant by 2050 (in 2023, the average French person emitted 9.5 tonnes LaTeX Math according to 2tonnes).

Outward journey: by plane – 336kg of LaTeX Math per person

Plane from Toulouse to Athens – Source : Bon Pote

For a one-way ticket :

  • 17% of annual LaTeX Math budget
  • 336kg of LaTeX Math per person
Return journey: ferry + train 903.9kg LaTeX Math / person
Comparateur Ferry télétravail
Ferry from Patras (Greece) to Ancona (Italy)900kg LaTeX Math / person – Source : Bon Pote

Train: 3.9kg LaTeX Math / person (1630km)

  • Ancona → Milan (approx. 4h00): 1.5kg LaTeX Math / person (612km)
  • Milan -> Lyon (4h50): 1kg of LaTeX Math / person (430km)
  • Lyon → Toulouse (4h00): 1.4kg of LaTeX Math / person (588km)

(source ADEME)

For a one-way ticket :

  • 46% of annual LaTeX Math budget
  • 903.9kg of LaTeX Math per person

These figures are only an estimate, but they show that the ferry is not the most eco-friendly option for travelling without flying… Especially as we haven’t calculated the carbon footprint of the bus journey that took us to the port of Patras to catch the ferry… Nor do these figures take into account the possible disturbance of marine fauna that these boats can cause. It would be important to take it into account. Read more about the difficulties of calculating the ferry’s carbon footprint here.

However, what we have learned from this experiment is that trains are unbeatable! It emits 30 to 50 times less LaTeX Math than planes (depending on the type of train…).

This experience in Greece was a real wake-up call for us. Since then, we’ve travelled throughout Europe exclusively by train: Valencia, Bonn, Geneva… and even Norway!

About trains & electricity

LaTeX Math emissions from trains differ according to each country’s electricity production method. For example, in Germany, the majority of electricity is generated by burning coal, whereas in France the majority of electricity is produced in nuclear power plants (decarbonized energy). As a result, train journeys abroad can be more polluting than in France. These differences are not taken into account in the ADEME simulator we used.. To find out more, click here.

The train to further destinations: Norway

In 2023, after the moderately conclusive results of the teletravel to Greece by ferry, we wanted to test the adventure 100% by train and remote work… We did it to Bergen, Norway.

Itinéraire train Norvège télétravail
Our route from Toulouse to Bergen © Murmuration

Toulouse – Bergen: carbon footprint and plane/train comparison

By plane: 32% of annual budget – 635kg of LaTeX Math per person
Comparateur Avion - télétravail
Plane from Toulouse to Bergen / Round Trip – Source : Bon Pote

Round trip:

  • 32% of annual budget
  • 635 kg of LaTeX Math per person
By train: 0.9% of annual budget – 17.5kg of LaTeX Math per person

Outward journey: 3 days

  • Toulouse → Paris (4h00): 1.9kg of LaTeX Math / person (590km)
  • Paris → Karlsruhe (2h30): 1.3kg of LaTeX Math / person (445km)
  • Karlsruhe → Hamburg (5h30): 1.5kg of LaTeX Math / person (517km)
  • Hamburg → Copenhagen (5h00): 1.2kg of LaTeX Math / person (290km)
  • Copenhagen → Gothenburg (4h00): 0.8kg LaTeX Math / person (228km)
  • Gothenburg → Oslo (3h30): 0.6kg of LaTeX Math / person (256km)
  • Oslo → Bergen (7h30): 1.1kg LaTeX Math / person (304km)

Return journey: 3 days

  • Bergen → Oslo (7h30): 1.1kg of LaTeX Math / person (304km)
  • Oslo → Göteborg (3h30): 0.6kg of LaTeX Math / person (256km)
  • Gothenburg → Copenhagen (4h00): 0.8kg of LaTeX Math / person (228km)
  • Copenhagen → Hamburg (5h00): 1.2kg LaTeX Math / person (290km)
  • Hamburg → Cologne (4h00): 1.1kg of LaTeX Math / person (356km)
  • Cologne → Paris (4h00): 1.3kg of LaTeX Math / person (405km)
  • Paris → Toulouse (4h00): 1.9kg of LaTeX Math / person (590km)
About the train

These figures were calculated using the ADEME comparator. The calculation was made in relation to the number of kilometers, which explains why the Toulouse → Paris train emits the most. As we saw earlier, if the calculation had taken into account the type of energy produced to run these trains, German trains would probably have emitted more LaTeX Math. These figures should therefore be treated with caution. Nevertheless, Toulouse → Bergen by train is still much more sober than Toulouse → Bergen by plane.

Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn where we share content around remote working on the train if! We also have a podcast where we share our train adventures!

Now that we’ve had a factual look at the advantages of rail over other modes of transport, let’s take a look at the benefits of this new way of working!

Remote Working on the train: positive feedback

The 3 advantages of remote working on the train for employees

  • 1: Save vacation days

Working remotely on the train, for example to visit your family on the weekend, means you can spend more time at your holiday destination!

Instead of leaving from Friday evening to Sunday evening, working remotely on the train allows you to leave during the week. For example, from Thursday evening to Monday morning. This not only allows you to enjoy your stay longer and benefit from lower fares outside rush hours, but also spreads out the flow of passengers who are usually concentrated at the same times.

  • 2: An easier access to the train

This goes back to the previous point. When you travel during the week, you save money on your tickets!

As you might have guessed, Friday evening and Sunday fares are often twice as expensive as in off-peak periods… Travelling by train is more affordable when you are flexible about departure days and hours.

  • 3: Greater motivation at work

We did a small survey within the team:

-Better work/life balance with a more flexible schedule

-More trust and responsibility: letting employees work remotely on the train (and from anywhere), demonstrates a certain trust to carry out tasks autonomously.

-Less stress: rush-hour stress, crowded transport stress…

-New travel opportunities: you can add vacation days to business trips

The 3 advantages of remote working on the train for companies

“Our employees take advantage of this to see their families or to go away for a long weekend. They enjoy more days on site and lower fares. We’ve even noticed that these hours on the train strengthen team cohesion in addition to motivation at the idea of working together for a better future!”

Cathy Sahuc, COO of Murmuration

  • 1: Reduce your carbon footprint

In our case, we made a simple calculation. In 2022, we made 20 business trips to Paris. If these trips had been made by plane from Toulouse, this would have generated 5.96 tonnes of LaTeX Math (this example is all the more relevant as the Toulouse -> Orly line is the most frequented in Europe). By choosing the train, LaTeX Math emissions are reduced to just 192 kilos of LaTeX Math(according to ADEME data). As a reminder, the Paris Agreement (2015) states that our objective for limiting the rise in average global temperature to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels is to achieve an annual emission of 2 tonnes of LaTeX Math per person.

  • 2: Building employee loyalty

We will take the example of our sales manager, Solène. She is the only Flockeo employee to live in Lyon. She comes to visit us 1 week every two months. Not only can she work on the train to Toulouse, but she can also combine this business trip with personal travel (visiting friends who live near Biarritz, for example). This reduces her LaTeX Math emissions, since it’s just one trip. Thanks to these advantages, she can continue to work for Flockeo from Lyon.

  • 3: Take care of your Employer Brand

What better recruitment argument than to say that you can work wherever you like, and even abroad for a month a year? ?

Whether on the train or at home, we’ve tested remote working quite a lot! However, we still wonder if this new way of working could have some rebound effects? Is it really that good? For you, we’ve carried out a little investigation in this 3rd part of the article!

A few nuances on the impact of remote work

It’s undeniable that working remotely offers environmental benefits when it comes to commuting. According to ADEME, working from home reduces commuting by 69%. 271 kg eqLaTeX Math are reduced per year and per day of weekly remote working.

Still according to ADEME, 70% of French people drive to work. Working remotely 3 days a week would reduce the fine particles linked to these commutes by 58%.

However, the impact of remote work on the environment remains to be seen, with rebound effects that are still difficult to calculate.

Zoom on Murmuration

Murmuration, Flockeo’s parent company, is a green-tech company which uses satellite data to connect people and organizations in the tourism sector. Our engineers developed a machine learning model to assess the impact of human activities (including tourism) on air quality in France. We wanted to use it to calculate the impact of teleworking on air pollution. The results show that one additional day of teleworking would result in a reduction in NO2 concentration (an air pollutant with adverse health effects) of around -6% on average over the period February 2019 – October 2022.

For any further, information, please contact us at

An over-consumption of energy at home?

With remote work, have we really saved energy, or has consumption just shifted from the workplace to the home?

The International Agency Energy IEA) points out that remote working would lead to higher energy consumption at home: extra heating in winter, extra air conditioning in summer, higher electricity consumption, and so on. Do we consume more energy to heat offices for 20-50 people than 20-50 apartments and houses? It’s hard to know, there are so many variables to take into account.

But the “good news” is that, according to a recent article by ADEME(June 23, 2023), “electricity savings in offices due to the absence of some remote workers (lighting, computers) appear to be relatively low. However, when telecommuting is accompanied by the closure of offices for at least one day, energy savings (heating, ventilation, etc.) can reach 20 to 30%. More good news. These energy savings have few repercussions at home. The “rebound effect” associated with an increase in energy consumption in employees’ homes does not exceed 3.5% to 7%.

Towards more digital pollution?

According to a 2019 report by the Shift Project, the digital sector is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gases. Remote working could increase this figure.

To work at home, we need more IT equipment and we do more videoconferencing and digital exchanges in general (e-mail, slack, etc.). According to ADEME’s report Caractérisation des effets rebondits induits par le télétravail, (2020) the digital footprint of remote working could reduce the benefits of working from home by 31%…

For a more responsible digital future, here are a few recommendations from ADEME

  • Avoid video, prefer audio: turn off your webcam during meetings
  • Prefer WIFI to 4G
  • Avoid e-mail attachments, prefer platforms such as Klip 
  • Choose responsible hosting providers for your website or e-mail address
  • Avoid Clouds and Drives, preferring internal storage spaces (paradoxically, the more recent computers are, the smaller their storage spaces…)
  • Regularly tidy up your e-mail, Cloud and internal storage…

For more tips, we recommend this episode of our podcast Le Vert à Moitié Plein :

Towards new mobilities?

The free time saved would create new leisure trips. If these new trips are made by car, then the carbon footprint of a remote working day is increased. The commute from home to work, though reduced, can also be lengthened if the worker moves further away from the workplace, from a big city to the countryside for example.

A very interesting tool: ADEME has set up a calculator to measure your transport impact and find out how you can reduce it by working remotely. For example, you can find out how much LaTeX Math you save per year by working remotely.

Comparateur télétravail
ADEME calculator for Remote Work

As a tourism company, we are often on the move, so we believe it’s important to consider the issue of mobility. It is a key element of our CSR approach.

Furthermore, as we adopt a flexible approach to remote work, we consider that it is important to investigate the global impact of remote work.

Working remotely on the train, like working remotely in general, has undeniable benefits for the environment, for our mobilities and for our quality of life at work. As with all “sustainable” things, the aim remains to maximize environmental benefits while working to reduce negative impacts.


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