Today’s workers are more mobile than ever before. In fact, according to The 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people working from home at least half of the time has increased by 115 percent since 2005. That number is expected to continue growing, and that means workers have more choices and flexibility when it comes to choosing the type of home office environment they work in.
With sustainability and a lower carbon footprint becoming an initiative for many businesses, the idea of working remotely makes sense. Working remotely immediately makes a contribution to the planet, since workers don’t spend time commuting in cars, trains and buses that produce carbon emissions and add to air pollution.
But for today’s worker who doesn’t go into an office to work, the ability to keep it green goes far beyond that.
“There are a lot of ways that people who are working remotely can reduce their carbon footprint,” says Joe Allen, who is in operations and customer support for the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “We’ve seen a lot of interest in that. A lot of people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint because we only have one.”
Here’s a look at five ways to become more eco-friendly when working remotely.
Reevaluate Your Equipment
Most of today’s computer equipment carries the Energy Star label, which means it consumes less energy. When looking at replacing equipment, make sure it is energy efficient, and also consider buying refurbished equipment instead of buying new. In many cases, refurbished items have all the benefits of new equipment, but at a greatly reduced price. This choice has less environmental impact and gives the equipment new life.
Find a Green Co-Working Space
Not everyone loves working from home. The idea of a co-working space fits the bill perfectly. With workspaces and cubicles that allow you to not feel like a hermit — but still have enough peace and privacy to get your work done — these spaces can be great for someone who feels isolated working from home.
Co-working spaces offer shared equipment like printers and fax machines, which means you don’t have to buy those items. This saves money both on equipment and on energy.
As co-working spaces have gained popularity, Allen says more of these spaces are going green to meet consumer demand. “The Nashville Entrepreneur Center is LEED certified. And we have our lighting on proximity sensors, practice recycling, and are completely energy efficient. I think for a lot of people those things factor in to the choice of where they choose to work.”
Look for a space that is LEED certified, or if not fully certified that is green-leaning, and features such things as lighting sensors and ambient temperature monitoring to reduce energy waste.
Make Your Home Office Smarter
If you’d rather work from home than in a shared space, then look at ways to make your home office more sustainable. Invest in smart chargers and dimmer switches to keep from running up your energy bill. And make good use of the standby or power-saving modes on your computer. You can also switch to LED lighting, which is more energy efficient. And limit the amount of paper you use by relying on digital communications as much as possible.
When you do use paper, be sure to recycle it rather than toss it in the trash.
Buy Eco-Friendly Furnishings
Buying sustainably made furniture is a great way to help the environment. So look for office furniture that is made out of renewable wood. Another option is to buy . As with buying refurbished office equipment, this keeps previously owned items out of the landfill. Buy used furniture from a reputable retailer. The company typically stands behind it with a warranty and performs necessary repair or cosmetic work to make it nearly as good as new.
Consider Not Buying at All
An even eco-friendlier option is to rent your office furniture instead of buying it. Much like buying used furniture, this allows quality furniture to continue serving a purpose without increasing demand for brand-new pieces. When you rent your office furniture, you reduce your environmental impact. This is an especially logical choice if you’re on a temporary work assignment and only need your office for a set period of time.