The Environmental Benefits of Working from Home
A big topic for debate this year has been the should I/shouldn't I return to the office after working so efficiently (hopefully) from home?
There are clear advantages to being in an office with friends and colleagues- the benefits to your mental health and well being are by far the most important, as well as the efficiency of face to face conversation vs the inefficiencies of problematic technologies, phone calls cutting out etc. However, despite missing out on the human contact of the office, many people have also experienced a positive side to working from home. More time with family, cutting out unnecessary meetings, less time wasted travelling, in fact, many companies have seen improvements in efficiency with colleagues working from home full time.
I see benefits to both sides of the argument, and I think that the most effective way of working seems to be a balance between the two. As well as the time saved, one of the most important benefits to a reduction in rat-race style working has been the environmental benefits that go along with it. Not just for the planet but for people too. Many people have reported taking more time for themselves and immersing themselves in the natural world far more than ever before.
So, lets take a look at the environmental benefits of working from home...
1. Reduced food waste and plastic waste
When you work from home, you make your own tea and coffee, and you tend to cook your own breakfast and lunch, eliminating the need for single-use plastic food containers, bags, or cutlery. Being at home more can lead to less food waste too as it's much easier to use up leftovers from last night's evening meal when all you need to do is pop it in the microwave.
2. Save energy
Office temperatures are regulated to account for the needs of multiple people in a large building. Keeping hundreds of people warm or cool during the day consumes a ridiculous amount of energy. With fewer people working from home, you can regulate your home's temperature and keep it constant all day. It's also easier to manage your own electrical output by working in one room or area throughout the day when you work from home. No wasted energy on automatic lighting and huge meeting rooms being heated or cooled and sitting unused throughout the day.
3. No commuting
The most impactful part of working from home is the fact that you don't need to commute to do so. By skipping the commute, you forgo carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere from car, bus, or train.
There are likely to be some long term changes to the way we do things going forward. As people begin to return to work, business leaders will consider if travel for conferences and meetings is necessary. With the increased usage and adoption of video conferencing tools, like Zoom, they might be more inclined to host more virtual conferences or meetings rather than gathering in-person. Less business travel means reduced carbon emissions, as well as cost savings to employers and employees.
We've seen that working from home will play an important role in shaping the future of work and the environment, and looking forward, we'll need to rethink the way we work.
Make a Positive Change
To make a positive change for the environment, it takes the collective effort of many individuals.
Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.
Shut your computer down at the end of the day and unplug unused electricals.
Clean your workspace with environmentally-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products.
If you do need to print something, set your printer to print two-sided.