With the advent of the Covid pandemic, working from home has become a stark reality for many of us.
Thousands no longer need to commute daily, and many offices are staying closed for the foreseeable future, which in turn helps to reduce our carbon footprint. But, with that decrease, does working from home increase other areas, such as our utility bills?
How can you ensure that you get the best out of your remote working day yet still manage to keep everything environmentally friendly? Striking that balance isn’t as difficult as you may perceive.
It is vital that you adhere to a routine; consistency is key. Get up at the same time you would if you were commuting. Shower and change rather than electing to wear your pyjamas all day. This helps to define the start of the workday and determines the work/life balance. Consider using the commute time for a quick walk around the block, or a short fitness video to help boost your mood.
Even your morning coffee on the commute is now saving the use of paper cups because you can brew at home. Simply fill the kettle using water measured from the mug you’ll be drinking from. This cuts down the amount of water and time your kettle needs to boil unnecessarily for, saving those pennies. Use tap water or a purifier for drinking water, sparing the need for single-use plastic bottles.
If at all possible, designate a room or space dedicated solely for working, and away from distractions. This should ideally be somewhere that you can leave behind at the end of the working day. Position yourself as near to natural light as you can. We all benefit from vitamin D, particularly in winter months, and being near the light also shortens the time you need your lights on for. Working near natural light also reduces the need for a brighter screen, saving some energy. If you do require more light, put energy saving bulbs in your light fittings. Add greenery to make the work area more appealing and to cleanse the air, or treat yourself to fresh flowers.
Open the window to allow fresh air to circulate and keep your head clear, in the warmer months. Some may be happy to do so even on the colder days! Wrap up warm if you need to, the remote working dress code is generally much more informal, unless you have Zoom meetings to be present for and where you need to ‘look the part’. Wearing a jumper and your cosy slippers could be enough to take the edge off. If you do feel particularly cold, it is sensible to simply heat the room you’re using rather than the whole house if you are home alone at that time.
Consider installing smart heating, where you have more control from the touch of your phone, whether at home or out and about. Ensure your radiators are not blocked by furniture and draw your curtains to keep the warmth in and the cold out.
If you don’t have to make an appearance on a screen on a particular day, you may be able to keep it more casual – can you give the hairdryer a miss that morning? Your hair dryer uses a lot of power (up to 15 times more than your computer!) which matters if you wish to keep your utility bills lower!
It’s very convenient to buy a sandwich from the local store when working in the office. At home, you can make a sandwich or even cook a quick meal, reducing the need for surplus plastic packaging. Try and plan your meals for the week in advance. This way you won’t need to buy anything that will be wasted and doing this allows you to plan lunch using leftovers, reducing food waste.
Continue to take your breaks and lunch break as you would at the office. It’s important to stretch your legs if seated at a desk for a while. Weather permitting, venture outside for some fresh air and some time away from your screen. Keep your workspace ventilated too where possible, open a window to stop stale air accumulating.
While at home, you hopefully won’t need to wash just one shirt or blouse for the next day. Run full loads in your machine and if the weather is good, line dry it outside rather than use the dryer. If there is a flash rain shower, you can dash out to retrieve it!
If you’re a serial note maker, invest in a wipe-clean, reusable whiteboard rather than using reams of paper. There are also some really good smartphone apps available to suit all requirements of note-taking. If you need to print paperwork and documents, try to utilise both sides where possible, and recycle used ink cartridges.
End your working day at the same time as you would if in the office. Turn any appliance off at the socket where feasible. Devices left on standby, particularly older devices, can use almost as much power as being left turned on. It also stops you from ‘quickly’ checking work emails if you have to power up your laptop again! Leave your laptop and work phone in the designated room or space until the start of your next working day.
With a little self-discipline, the remote working and home-life balance need not be difficult to maintain. For as long as it lasts, enjoy the lack of commuting and the relaxed, more informal day!