Making Your Remote Space More Sustainable
Working out of the office has been a growing trend for years now. However, the coronavirus pandemic served to suddenly and dramatically shove remote work — and more specifically work from home (WFM) activity — into the limelight.
Suddenly, rather than seeing remote work as a nifty perk for valuable employees, it became the lifeline that kept companies around the world in business.
The Inherent Sustainability of Remote Work
The COVID-19 crisis created a slew of new remote work positions, from obvious candidates like IT and customer service to more unique options, such as remote nursing positions, certain investigators, and even some librarians. On top of that, entire companies, like Twitter, Square, Shopify, and Upwork have gone “remote-first” or “digital by default,” informing employees that they never have to come into the office again.
This shift is a slam dunk development for sustainable living. The absence of millions of commuter vehicles and the lack of large office spaces make a big difference for the embattled environment. For instance, one estimate had a single car making a 35-minute commute to work through New York City creating $144 in environmental damages each year. And that’s just one vehicle. It helps to underscore the fact that long-term remote work, when done correctly, can be a very sustainable practice.
How to Make WFH Even More Sustainable
While the natural environmental benefits of remote work are laudable, those who are truly interested in living a sustainable lifestyle shouldn’t rest on their laurels quite yet. There are still many ways that you can take your already eco-friendly WFH scenario and make it even more sustainable.
Switch to Renewable Energy
Even if you’re not soaking up natural resources in a cubicle or a corporate suite, your home office still requires heating, cooling, and illumination.
Fortunately, there is an increasing number of ways to take care of these concerns using green energy. All that the term implies is that the source of your energy is produced with little-to-no environmental impact and that it doesn’t create greenhouse gases when consumed.
This can take the form of solar panels or a wind turbine. It may even be worth contacting your local electricity provider to see if they have a renewable energy program available that you can tap into.
One of the key elements of remote work success is to remain organized. This consists of keeping a predictable schedule, setting up boundaries and daily routines, and having a clean, dedicated workspace.
When it comes to upkeep on your workspace, in particular, it’s easy to shift to a more sustainable model by using eco-friendly cleaners. There are a plethora of products available at this point. You should have no trouble replacing harsh chemical cleaning products with more earth-friendly options, such as a sustainable all-purpose cleaner or an essential oil diffuser as an air freshener.
Prepare Lunch at Home
Even with commutes largely cut out, there are still subtle ways that you can incidentally rack up those emission miles. One of the easiest of these is ordering out for lunch. With so many food delivery apps like Grubhub and DoorDash available, it’s tempting to put a few bucks towards a delivery fee, focus on work, and have your food brought right to your front door. When you do that, though, you’re simply shifting those unsustainable commuting miles onto someone else.
Instead, strive to make your lunch right in the comfort of your own home. Home cooking is a natural way to cut down on pollution and make your workday more sustainable. So keep your pantry well-stocked — preferably with local products — and try to make yourself lunch as often as possible to cut down on those food miles.
Finally, comb over your business transactions (and even your personal ones) to look for ways you haven’t yet gone paperless. If you’re working remotely, chances are a lot of your work and communication is already done via the cloud. However, there are subtle ways that you can push the paperless gospel even further.
For instance, if you have bills, either personal or business-related, make sure that they’re all taken care of online. If your line of work requires a lot of signed documents, strive to create an e-signature setup that allows you to take care of business with as little printing and postage as possible.
Always Striving for Sustainability
None of the above suggestions are meant to be seen in a guilty context. On the contrary, if you’ve embraced remote work, you should already feel good about your sustainable activity.
However, it never hurts to get the most out of our earth-conscious behavior. Rather than being content with moderate success, adopt the mentality to always be looking for ways to improve the sustainability of your work environment.
From going paperless to cooking from home, cleaning green to using renewable energy on the homefront, there are always ways that you can tweak and improve the resource consumption associated with your work in the name of a sustainable future.
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