As I'm sure many of us learned from our lockdown experiences, it pays to get the home office right. With hybrid working now increasingly the order of the day, I thought I'd share a few reasons why you should green your home office, and how you can go about it.
Why you should green your home office
For me (and a growing number of individuals and organisations), working from home needs to tick some solid sustainability boxes, including minimal energy usage, high productivity, and the kinds of office accessories, technologies and good habits that make waste reduction easy.
There are some great economic and holistic pay-offs to creating an eco-friendly home office space too. For instance, reducing energy usage and waste will keep bills down and lessen our impact on the environment.
It's also important to remember that all the carbon that is generated from WFH contributes to your company's carbon footprint, not your own. So, if your business is looking for ways to reduce their scope 3 emissions, supporting employees in creating a greener home office can be measured and added to their reduction targets.
Convinced yet? Excellent. If you're looking for somewhere to start, here are a few ways you can go about making your home office more sustainable.
Opt for used or upcycled furniture
Readying your office for a little green update needn’t be a faff – or cost a fortune. If you're in the process of creating your set-up, or something's needing to be replaced, consider buying used or upcycled furniture instead of new. It might take you a little longer to scour charity shops or Facebook Marketplace for the perfect fit, but that's the thrill of the hunt — it'll likely save you some cash, and you'll be doing the planet a favour by keeping good products in circulation for longer.
You can also check out Preloved, an app for people who want to give their unwanted household items a new home. All you need to do is download the app, get your address geo-located and see who’s having a clear-out in your area.
If you're needing to get rid of an old IKEA desk or lamp, consider sending it back through IKEA's buy back programme. They'll give it a new life or dispose of it sustainably, and you get some cash towards your next IKEA purchase! Lingonberry juice, anyone?
Reduce energy usage
Another easy eco-hack for the home office that'll help shave pennies off your next bill. That means switching your laptop or desktop onto power-saving mode when you’re not using it, turning off unnecessary lights, and conserving printer paper for must-have documents only. Turning down the thermostat and pulling on a jumper instead can also go a long way towards using less energy.
Other smart energy-saving tips for your home office include understanding how much energy is leaked from spatial heating. Windows, fireplaces, doors and attics are all places where heat can escape and draughts may occur. Check to see if you’ve any draughts and seal windows, doors and floorboards to ensure your home isn’t losing heat. Energy.gov has a good checker tool for your home’s thermal efficiency. It’s also smart to close certain doors in the house during winter to create ‘heating zones’.
As far as smart lighting goes, I’m a big fan of keeping it as natural as possible. This is partly due to the growing evidence about the disruptive impact of too much blue light and LED on our bodies’ circadian rhythms. So, I try and keep my home office hours on the same schedule as the sun, to optimise natural daylight and keep our reliance on artificial light to a minimum.
When daylight fades, we’ve gone a bit Scandinavian in our home with low, warm LED energy-saving bulbs and even the odd candle. At night, you can even go one step further and switch lights off at the mains. It has been shown in studies to support a deeper night’s sleep and make energy bills noticeably lower. Result!