Over the last couple of years, there’s been a distinct business shift towards the adoption of remote operations. For instance, a 2021 Mercer study found that 70% of companies were planning to use a hybrid working model, and many companies have already made this switch, including corporate giants Salesforce, Spotify, and Twitter.
This evolution has been spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed us into a real-world experiment that tested the effectiveness of remote work. What did we find?
That remote work has the potential to give significant financial, lifestyle, and productivity benefits. For instance, a Global Workplace Analytics study estimated that a company could save $11,000 for every part-time remote employee. Yet, there’s another, also widely recognized benefit to remote work. And that is the environmental benefits.
By demanding less office space, telecommuting can positively contribute to global energy conservation efforts and reduce the volumes of non-biodegradable office waste. Plus, remote work can lower total business GHG emissions by reducing business travel and employee commute. For example, Xerox Holdings Corporation saved 40,894 metric tons of C02e by allowing employees to work from home via their Virtual Workforce Program.
Yet, despite these green benefits, this remote-work transition seems to push responsibility onto the employee to create a sustainable and eco-friendly home working environment. In this Green Business Bureau article, we wanted to address this issue. And so we give you three ways you can create an eco friendly office at home (aka a green home office).
Creating an eco friendly office tip #1: Leverage green technology and digital tools
We live in an era marked by advanced technology and accessible digital tools.
Yet, one key consideration you need to think about is how advanced technology and digital tools can be used to bolster your sustainability efforts for your home office.
USING ADVANCED GREEN TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A GREEN HOME OFFICE
Thinking about advanced technology, look for green tech solutions you can implement to update your home and make it more eco-friendly. These will not only reduce your overall environmental impact, but will also lower your energy bill. For example, you could install solar panels in your home to ensure you benefit from a clean and independent energy source. And you could replace your lighting with energy-efficient alternatives to cut electricity consumption and extend the lifespan of your bulbs.
It would also be worth investing in smart lighting and thermostat systems. You may be the only one at home for most of the day. With this in mind, you could use these smart systems to focus resources on a single part of your home, as they’re able to track your work habits and the time you spend in your home office. The systems will then make suggestions via an app or automatically adjust outputs to reflect the times you aren’t physically in a certain room.
USING DIGITAL TOOLS TO CREATE A GREEN HOME OFFICE
Moving on to think about digital tools, there’s a plethora of apps, software solutions, and eCommerce sites out there specifically designed to help you reduce your environmental footprint. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below, and detailed how they can help:
- eBay: eBay is a global eCommerce store that supports a circular economy by helping individuals sell second-hand items. Thinking about your home office, you can avoid using mass-manufactured desks, shelving, and chairs from big-box stores, and instead, upcycle old furniture using eBay. This not only reduces the pressure you put on landfills, but it also means you’re not contributing to the excess energy consumption used in the production of these items.
- The Green Business Bureau: The Green Business Bureau is a digital software solution that will act as your green guide. GBB’s EcoAssessment and EcoScorecard will outline green initiatives tailored to help you reach your green office goals. GBB also comes with a carbon footprint calculator to help you estimate the GHG emissions from your home. Using this information, you can then manage and mitigate these emissions.
- Ecosia: Ecosia is a free chrome extension, and comes as a search engine alternative. Users can use Ecosia to make an internet search, and for every search query made, a tree is planted.
- iHuerting: iHeurting is an app that will help you build and manage your urban garden. The app will remind you when to water, fertilize and prevent pests in your plants in an organic way. Create a nature haven at home to support your green office.
The above are just a sample of our favorite green digital tools. Be sure to look around to find digital solutions that support your sustainability goals.
Creating and eco friendly office tip #2: Collaborate with your team to support your green office movement
When working remotely, you’re not surrounded by your teammates which can make collaboration difficult. It’s not unusual for businesses to struggle here, and many are still adjusting to the practicality of remote work and haven’t established methods for green efficiency. Yet, when thinking about sustainability in any sense, collaboration is vital. You want to be able to work with your employer to optimize operations for sustainability.
There are various challenges involved when thinking about effective collaboration in remote circumstances. Many of these challenges revolve around nurturing meaningful yet distant relationships and maintaining both efficiency and security. You’ll want to overcome these challenges to create a collaborative atmosphere that works to promote sustainability.
For instance, with more efficient collaboration, individuals and teams will be better able to make informed green decisions with access to the right data. Agree with your immediate management and colleagues on methods to assess sustainability performance remotely. You can usually achieve this through questionnaires about the usage of equipment, energy, software, and home office items. From here, you should collaborate to identify common areas of inefficiency and make changes accordingly.
Utilize instant messenger applications and video conferencing software to support teamwork and build effective relationships. But when doing this, think about using mobile communication devices rather than desktop software – as every little helps when it comes to saving energy.
Creating and eco friendly office tip #3: Adjust your behavior
We each have a personal responsibility to protect the planet. So it comes as little surprise to learn that the most valuable green efficiency measures you can adopt can be achieved by simple adjustments to your behavior.
Establish habits that minimize unnecessary consumption of resources. You can achieve efficiency through relatively simple acts if they’re followed consistently.
Here are some simple behavioral changes you can make: Open your blinds to make use of natural light instead of utilizing electric lamps; open windows to encourage airflow rather than relying on air conditioning; only plug in your office equipment if you’re currently using it, and run your laptop from its battery rather than keeping it always connected to the mains.
These behavioral changes can take time to get used to and maintain. Checklists are a good tool to use to help you establish habits. You can formalize procedures using your checklists, to perform key habitual actions at the beginning of the day, at lunchtime, and when you finish work.
It’s also important you regularly assess your behavior. Review your home office resource consumption and waste disposal habits. How often are you reordering supplies? What types of office trash are you disposing of frequently? Identify areas of concern and establish how you can adapt your behavior to make a better impact.
Create a green home office with these eco friendly office tips
As a remote worker, you’re already utilizing a potentially more sustainable approach to employment. Nevertheless, it’s important to actively focus on better green efficiency measures in your home office.
Consider how you can upgrade your home to be more eco-friendly. Collaborate with your colleagues to better optimize operations. And remember that small but consistent behavioral adjustments can have a big impact.
Your actions in your home office are a good start. Yet, remember that the business itself must also take greater responsibility for establishing greener remote practices.