Author Laura Matz
Welcome to those of you who are now working from home!
Working from home is not a recent concept. In a time gone by it was the norm to work where you lived, or live where you worked. Seamstresses, solicitors, alchemists and architects welcomed their clientele into their home. But as paperwork increased and the industrial revolution gave rise to more factories the big commute began. At first the more mechanical work, such as sewing and assembling was reserved for open warehouses and the office work was conducted in separate rooms, to allow for focus, but in the early 20th century these trends began to change. The advent of electricity, air conditioning and the telegraph system meant desk workers could now work away from the factories, in city centre offices and high rises. Office layout became a mix of open plan spaces and private offices complete with typewriters and canteens. Not far removed from our modern day workplaces. Those who continued to work from home were often artists, artisans and poor mothers.
Fast forward to the 21st century where we find that technology gives us a vast variety of options of how and where to work, doctors and therapists can treat you via apps, entire call centres are relocated to whichever country has the lowest wage or the lowest tax rates and financial wizards are staring at five computer screens trading millions before you’ve had your morning coffee. In the 00s and early 10s the whole world seemed to be scaling up their operations. Vast warehouses with online storefronts took over from the high street leading to more and more offices to deal with logistics, new product development, marketing, legal work, governance, etc.
With space at a premium and a desire to bring people together, regardless of department or rank, many offices are designed to be open plan. Remote workers gather at coworking spaces to take advantage of networking opportunities and feel the sense of community that they might not feel in the virtual world. Though these communal work places come with many advantages we have recently seen the disadvantages; commuting poses both environmental risks and health risks in polluted city centres, bugs and viruses travel quickly by way of air conditioning and even by the use of the aforementioned beloved procrastination space, the canteen, and don’t forget the chit chat and interruptions leading to loss of productivity. Working from home has clear health related and environmental advantages. It leads to less cars on the road, less planes in the sky, less disposable coffee cups and takeaway containers and for some, increased productivity. But how can we take our environmental stewardship one step further?
Greener Home Office
So here is a list of tips for making your workspace (whether it is your desk, a dedicated home office, your living room table, your bed) more eco-friendly:
● Switch to a sustainable energy provider. There are some great companies out there that offer 100% renewable energy such as Bulb or Octopus Energy. You may even save some money
● If possible, position your workspace so it gets plenty of natural light and fresh air
● Invest in low energy light bulbs
● Use unbleached recycled paper or paper from certified sustainable sources (keep printing to a minimum and add a little note in your email signature to invite your recipients to do the same)
● Use staple free staplers where possible (such as https://www.plus-europe.com/en/products/stapling/staple-free-stapler/)
● Surround yourself with some houseplants. Not only will they purify the air but they might brighten your day
● Drink your hot drinks from an insulated cup to avoid boiling the kettle over and over again to replace sad forgotten brews
● Stay in your pyjamas if that’s what your heart desires. Less wardrobe changes means less laundry.
● Before you head to buy new look at second office equipment/furniture. With today’s fast consumer trends people are getting rid of products before they even get any sign of wear. Buy local where possible
● Use refillable pens
● Create a digital business card or find an eco-friendly alternative for your next order
● Recycle any waste you can, such as printer cartridges and batteries
● Turn the thermostat down a few degrees but keep warm by scheduling a few little exercises into your day (like a HIIT workout or a few runs up and down the stairs)
● Power down at night, turn computers, printers, chargers and dare I say it, phones off at night
● Buy eco-friendly cleaning products to give the office that monthly clean down
● Spread the word! Share your efforts and inspire others.
Written by Laura Matz. Laura helps companies become a force for good by guiding them in their journey to making a formal commitment to people and planet as well as profit. Her work is focused on using the B Corp assessment as a framework to creating this change.