The arrival of COVID-19 has changed our lives in many ways, especially how and where we work. Back in 2019, the idea of working from home was a fantasy that many of us wanted but few ever obtained, but the pandemic has forced many companies to transition to a remote workforce to follow social distancing guidelines and keep their businesses open.
One of the great things about big businesses is their knack for doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy resources and eliminating waste. You can continue this tradition at home by creating an eco-friendly remote office that will pair productivity with smart choices to help our environment thrive. Let’s look at how we can do just that.
The Major Issue With Remote Work
There are many reasons why people are drawn to remote work. They get to avoid a long commute, be closer to their families, and keep out of a stuffy office. However, there are also cons to working from home, and one of them is the potential to waste more energy and electricity than you would in another physical location. And not only are you using the heater, air conditioner, and home appliances more often, but people who work remotely tend to find it harder to unplug, so they work longer hours, and therefore, use more electricity with their computer and office equipment.
Due to this issue, the first step to a more eco-friendly office and home is to have the proper work/life balance. This means sticking to your regular working hours by setting alarms and reminders when it is time to leave for the day. When your shift is over, turn off your computer, the lights, and unplug any devices you don’t regularly use, as they can still leak electricity even when off.
The electric bill is only one of the many utilities that can get out of hand when working from home. While you are hard at work, keep an ear out for unusual sounds around the house like banging in the pipes or running water. A shower that is not turned off completely or a leaky pipe can not only result in additional damage but also leads to unneeded waste. It is also important to watch your heating and air conditioning usage as this can escalate quickly. Cut down your costs and use less energy by keeping it at 68 degrees during the day, and get a smart thermostat so you can set it and forget it.
Creating a Natural Office
The great thing about working during the day and maintaining that work/life balance is that you will be active when the sun is brightest, and if you plan strategically, you can take advantage of the sunlight and avoid the use of your light fixtures. Do this by moving your desk and workspace so it is close to the window, where you can see your computer clearly. By keeping the lights off and using natural light, you are not only cutting down on unneeded electricity, but you are improving your job performance in the process. Studies have shown that natural light in the office can reduce the chance of headaches and eyestrain while also boosting productivity, improving engagement, and overall improving the office vibes.
If you have to turn on the lights, you can do so in an environmentally-conscious way by changing all fixtures to LED bulbs. By switching to LED, your lights will be more reliable and brighter, and they will also last a longer time, which means less waste and money spent on replacements. You could also bring your energy efficiency to another level by installing solar panels on your roof. By doing so, you are using more natural sunlight and fewer of the fossil fuels required to power our homes through the usual means. Plus, you can often get a tax credit to help with the cost.
On top of all that, you can literally go green by placing some plants in and around your home office. Just like with natural light, plants have been known to decrease stress in the workplace and create a more pleasant atmosphere. Indoor plants also clean the air by absorbing dangerous pollutants and gasses into their roots.
Eliminate Office Waste
While many companies try to do their part to limit their carbon footprint, it can be difficult to do when there are so many employees to appease and satisfy. Luckily, in your own home office, you can cut out some of the costs that your corporate office cannot. For instance, over the course of a year, half of a trillion plastic cups are manufactured, and four billion trees are chopped down for the materials. Many of these cups are used in company break rooms. You can do your part to limit this waste at home by using a ceramic mug every day and simply washing it out before each use.
Many companies who have not jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon are also printing and discarding paper on a regular basis. At home, you can negate this waste by going digital. Instead of printing out paperwork and reminders, utilize email and download a sticky note app for your computer.
Finally, think about the waste caused when going out to lunch at the corporate office. It starts with the gas emissions your car spews into the air and continues with the plastic and paper that is wasted with those takeout containers. Since you are working at home, why not skip the takeout and plant a garden with fruit and vegetables, so you can eat a healthy lunch without leaving home. Store uneaten food in reusable containers.
It is unfortunate that a global pandemic forced us to change the way we work, but in the long run, the transition could be of great benefit to our environment. By doing your part when you can, you will make a difference and stay happy and productive during your workday.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn’t writing you can find him travelling, hiking, or gaming. You can keep up with his writing on his Twitter.
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