Remote work has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years, with 16% of companies across the globe now embracing this model and 85% of managers predicting that working from home will become the new norm. Another buzzword in offices is sustainability: the desire to save energy, make eco-friendly choices, and reduce one’s carbon footprint. If you are currently telecommuting and you want to make sure your experience is as green as possible, the following tips may help.

Working from Home is More Environmentally Friendly

2021 study by M Beno has found that approximately 98% of an employee’s carbon footprint comes from commuting. Money can also be lost via time wastage; many commuters get stuck in traffic jams or they are forced to travel increasingly longer routes because of accidents, roadworks, and the like. In 2014, forward-thinking company Xeros launched a Virtual Workforce Program, enabling 8,000 employees to work from home, reducing their greenhouse emissions by a whopping 40,894 metric tons.

Designing a Sustainable Home Office

There are many ways to boost sustainability in your home, whether you wish to undertake a renovation, or you simply want to embark on a small home office remodeling project. Useful measures to take include utilizing sustainable materials like bamboo, reclaimed wood, and concrete; relying on renewable or green energy; and insulating your home office. Because heating and cooling make up almost 50% of a typical home’s energy consumption, it is essential to reduce the loss of warm or cool air because of poor insulation, badly fitted windows and doors, and air leaks. You can also invest in a smart thermostat, which will enable you to cool or heat your office at certain times of the day, closing off your HVAC system when you are not home. To decorate your office, shop for items made with materials such as vegan leather (for furniture), fabrics like organic cotton and linen (for cushions) and sustainably certified timber, reclaimed wood, and eco-wood finishes (for flooring and furniture).

Investing in Renewable Energy

Running a typical home office containing a laptop, monitor, LED lamps, amplifiers for music, and the like, can cause residential energy to ruse by 20%, leading to higher bills. As stated by Tufts University professor, S Cicala, in the summer of 2020,  “The total over that four-month period was $6 billion extra in residential electricity expenditures.” Investing in solar panels can lower your carbon footprint by approximately 80%. The cost of installation can range from $11,000 to $15,000 but this amount pays for itself. In 20 years, you can save around $30,000 on your home electricity bill.

Making the Most of Natural Light

Whether your office is on your main floor or your basement, try to make the most of natural light. Researchers from Cornell University have found that optimizing the amount of light in an office significantly improves the health and wellbeing of workers and leads to productivity gains. Consider replacing walls (between your office and the garden, for instance) with glass doors. If your office is in the basement, available options include using light wells, glass ceilings, and solar tubes. The latter comprise tubes with mirrors that invite light into the darkest spots in your office.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

It is always nice to have new folders, binders, and other materials but if you already have these items, consider reusing them – even if they may be a little tattered around the edges. Keep material in specially designated areas so that items like pens, rubber bands, and paper clips do not get lost because they have been left lying around or because they have fallen on the floor or behind furniture. Recycle all items you cannot reuse – including printer toners and paper. Make sure to set your printer to print on both sides of paper, to cut back on your paper expenditure by half. Aim to digitalize any work that you are still jotting down on paper and communicate with clients and other staff members via email and team apps like Slack or Asana. If part of your marketing strategy involves printing brochures, magazines, or newsletters, rely on recycled paper suppliers and work with green printing companies that use recycled materials, rely on renewable energy resources, and take open steps to reduce their greenhouse emissions. 

The rise of remote work is undeniable and it is also undeniably positive for the environment. Telecommuting can reduce employees’ carbon footprints by 98% while also enabling staff to work more efficiently. To boost the sustainability of your office, invest in eco-friendly design features and, if possible, consider making the switch to solar energy. Finally, rely on natural light instead of light bulbs and only deal with suppliers who are committed to green practices and renewable energy.