The Eco-Friendly Home Office

Reader Contribution by Destiny Hagest and Permies.Com

Something has happened that I don’t think anyone ever expected: digital entrepreneurs cut the environmental impact of the workforce. As industries evolve, current estimates speculate that as much as half of the workforce in the US could be telecommuting by 2020.

Telecommuting is attractive to a lot of different people from many walks of life, from stay at home moms that want to be there to see their kids grow up, to college graduates that want the freedom to travel while they work. Even more appealing though, is the huge opportunity to drastically reduce the ecological impact of a worldwide population of workers.

Less Gas, More Sass

The world of telecommuting has completely revolutionized the way people work and shaken up the conventional office space to one of our own design.

Commute? Optional.

Childcare? Optional.

Pants? Also optional.

You get to decide how much time and resources your job consumes, and with that kind of influence comes the power to create a work environment that’s greener, more sustainable, and making an active difference in man’s tragically dark environmental footprint on this planet.

Reducing Waste

When you work from home, you decide how much trash your office produces, and the freedom therein is empowering. Most communication is handled digitally, so there’s almost no need at all for a print in many scenarios.

1. There are no paper cups at the water cooler, no endless plastic yogurt cups to fish out of the trash and toss into recycling – you’re master of your domain, and if you want to spring for the recycled card stock business cards, it’s officially your prerogative to do so.

2. Opt for hankies instead of a box of tissues, and make your own lunch in a reusable container that won’t spend the next three decades in a landfill. Just think of the profound impact this has if half of the workforce is at home, even attempting to follow suit!

You-Centric Office Design

One of the coolest parts about telecommuting is being master of your domain – conquering your space, and making it your own. Your take on office space design can be as green or conventional as you want it to be, while still maintaining the aesthetic that puts you in the zone to move mountains. I’m particularly fond of lots of plants in my office – lavender to calm those pre-meeting jitters. Lift the blinds to minimize your dependence on overhead lighting and let some sunshine in, and use light colored paint on the walls to help reflect light around the room.

Create a space for yourself that inspires productivity, and lifts your spirits. Flowers have a natural tendency to do that for me, but many people like employing essential oil diffusers to help with their concentration.

The Energy Efficient Home Office

You’re going to need to hook into some kind of power source to stay connected while you telecommute, but the amount of power needed is almost entirely consumed by your computer and climate control. While there’s only so much you can do to reduce the power consumption of your computer, there are other ways to drastically cut back on the energy consumed in your home office. Start by taking a leaf out of Paul Wheaton’s book, and heating and cooling yourself, instead of your office.

Additionally, make sure you’re using either LED or incandescent bulbs (none of that fluorescent nonsense, yahear?), and only when you truly need it. In my experience, having the drapes open in my office provides more than enough light for the majority of my working hours. Consider unplugging hardware you don’t use throughout the day, like printers and scanners, and skip the mini fridge.

Create a Power Failsafe

I know a lot of remote workers that have to take their laptops with them to the nearest cafe when the power goes out. Even if it’s only occasionally, it’s nice to have an off the grid alternative to power your home office with until things are back up and running. We have a battery backup bank in our home office with some deep cycle marine batteries and a backup landline phone, in the entirely too common event that our power goes out. I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved me when I had a meeting scheduled in the midst of a power outage.

You can learn more about how to set up a battery backup bank here.

Try a Shared Office Space

For those that can’t handle the isolation of telecommuting, shared workspaces are becoming increasingly popular. The best part? She who holds the lease makes the rules. Create a public workspace that’s environmentally conscious and set an example for other area businesses to follow.

Offer discounts to renters that show up at least half the month on their bike. Set up recycling bins, and get ink cartridges refilled instead of replaced. The added benefit of it being a shared space is that you can share in the responsibility while simultaneously widening the impact of your efforts – it’s a win-win!

Remote Work – The New Normal

Telecommuting is changing everything about the way the modern business functions. Freelancers like me are hustling and making a name for themselves, and large companies are able to hire creatives again, thanks to the reduced costs of working with contractors.

Beyond any of the business benefits of telecommuting though is a profound shift, ready to occur for the workforce that spends two hours a day sitting in traffic. Our impact is shrinking, our dependence on fossil fuels slowly ebbing, and we’re one step closer to the power it takes to create a most sustainable future within our own circle of influence.

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