An eco-friendly home office using zero-waste office supplies.

Sustainability in the workplace: making your home office
environmentally friendly

Working from home can lower the overall environmental impact of everyday working life. In this article, we have put some helpful tips together on how you can reduce your environmental impact for when you are working from home. We will also highlight some of the environmental protection advantages that home office offers as well as adopting a new approach to sustainability. In addition, we will give you some tips on what steps you can take to become more environmentally friendly when working from home and how you can save money at the same time.

What are the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of a home of­fice?

Many workers who do not live within walking distance of their workplace commute by car every day. Most people drive on their own to work. Commuting every day causes a lot of emissions, which could be saved if more people spent one or more days in their working week working from home. Even if you aren’t keen on spending your whole working week in home office, a single home office day will have a positive impact on climate protection, as emissions from daily commuting can be saved.

The number of people working from home has increased over the past couple of years this has influenced how we communicate in the workplace. For example, video conferencing is used a lot more in many industries. In many cases, digital meetings can replace or at least reduce the number of business trips. With this, greenhouse gas emissions can potentially be reduced. If a business trip is unavoidable, companies should ideally use more environmentally friendly means of transport.


Bear in mind that...

... home office is not the simple solution when it comes to sustainability in the workplace. Other measures will need to be put into place in order to guarantee a more sustainable future. There are many professions where the job cannot be done from home, which means a daily commute to work is unavoidable. Environmentally friendly transport must be expanded, for example, by promoting affordable and reliable public transport or by expanding urban walking and cycling networks.


How can work­ers en­sure sus­tain­abil­i­ty when work­ing from home?

In a lot of industries under normal circumstances home office can reduce a significant part of the emissions generated through commuting and business trips. However, it must be noted that home offices do not reduce electricity and energy consumption, but merely shifts costs and emissions from the office to the employee's private home. In order to help you be more environmentally friendly at home we have put some tips together that could help you to save energy when working from home.


Did you know that...

"Green" search engines like Panda Search (run by WWF) or Ecosia invest their advertising revenue in sustainable projects and supply their servers with renewable energy. If you use these search engines, you can make a small but important contribution to environmental protection while surfing the internet.


A woman working in her home office.

How to protect the environment in the workplace: sustainable office supplies and appliances for your home office

One area of creating a sustainable home office is energy-efficient office supplies and appliances that are manufactured in a resource-conserving way. Ideally, your employer should provide you with a company laptop for working from home so that you can easily switch back and forth between your workplace and home office. However, you can make sustainable choices about the other office supplies or appliances that you will need for your home office:

  • Buy second hand appliances and office supplies: if you need any other electronics t, such as a monitor or keyboard and mouse, you should look for second hand ones t. If you buy a second-hand model, you will not only save money but it will also conserve valuable resources.

  • Pay attention to energy efficiency: with used and new appliances, you should make sure that they work as efficiently as possible. Before buying, look at the energy label or the product’s datasheet.

  • Repair items when possible: if you notice a slight defect in a piece of furniture or an appliance, it is often cheaper and more sustainable to have it repaired instead of replacing it.

  • Go for sustainable office supplies: pay attention when replacing office supplies and use recycled paper, printers with refill cartridges or other recyclable stationery and office items.

Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in the work­place: an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly ap­proach to work­ing in home of­fice

In addition to making your workplace more environmentally friendly, there are other ways to make your home office more sustainable. If you are already interested in avoiding waste and being environmentally friendly in your everyday life and you make a conscious effort to save electricity and to avoid producing too much waste, you can then adopt this approach when you are working from home.

A woman changing light bulbs at her desk with her children.

Tip 1: Saving electricity

When you are working from home you are usually responsible for paying your own electricity bill. Working with a computer, any additional lighting and, for example, cooking during your lunch break will increase your electricity costs and emissions. However, you can reduce the extra costs and emissions by simply making a couple of small changes and adjustments. Below we have put a helpful list together on how you can save electricity.

  • Make sure that new appliances are highly energy efficient.

  • Replace old light bulbs and halogen lamps with energy-saving lamps or LED lamps to reduce electricity consumption for when working at home.

  • Completely switch off any electronics such as computers, monitors, etc. and don’t just put them in standby mode.

  • Only use the appliances or lights that you really need and make sure to turn off any lights when you leave the room for a longer period of time.

Tip 2: Make sure to heat and air your home well

In the autumn and winter months heating represents a large part of a household's energy consumption. If you work in home office during this time, your consumption will increase in comparison to working in an office. By following some of the helpful tips listed below you can be more environmentally friendly and save on your heating costs

  • A room temperature of about 20 °C is sufficient in most living rooms. According to the recommendations of the Federal Environment Agency, 18 °C in the kitchen and 17 °C in the bedroom are also sufficient, depending on how sensitive you are to the cold.

  • To keep warm you can wear warm clothing, and ideally you should wear layers that are suitable for everyday use.

  • However, to avoid any damp conditions, which could damage your home the temperature in your home should not fall below 16 °C.

  • Airing your home properly is important to maintain a pleasant indoor climate and to prevent any mould from forming. It is more effective and energy efficient if you air your home at regular intervals rather than having your windows open all day. Make sure to open your windows several times a day for a few minutes for fresh air. Fresh air also increases productivity, which is of course also important when working in a home office environment.

  • Radiators should be kept clear and not obstructed by any furniture or curtains. This will help to heat your home more efficiently, thus it will be more energy efficient. Also, make sure that your doors and windows are airtight and if they aren’t it is a good idea to replace them.

Tip 3: Avoid­ing waste

If you already try to live sustainably in other areas of your life, you already understand the importance of reducing waste, waste separation and the principle of "reduce, reuse, recycle". If you work from home, you will find areas where you can make further savings.

  • Avoid single-use plastic or packaging such as. coffee cups to-go) and instead you should buy reusable products. Insulated jugs, ceramic travel mugs or even reusable lunch boxes are great to use on days when you work at the office, but also for private use and for when you are travelling.

  • When working in home office, you are responsible for your own food. It's best to choose seasonal and regional products and make sure that imported products are organic and fair-trade.

  • Use your office supplies sparingly: print on both sides of the page and in black and white to save paper and ink cartridges. You may still be able to use the back of any outdated documents for notes. In addition, before printing out any documents think about whether you need a printed copy. Perhaps you can also make more use of note-taking apps and digital diaries to save paper.

  • Also save on data waste: duplicate or unneeded files consume storage capacity and increase the power consumption of the servers on which they are stored. Therefore, you should regularly delete duplicate or unnecessary files and emails (following your company's archiving policy, of course). You should also compress email attachments and images before sending them.


Bear in mind that...

To strengthen team spirit and motivation while working in a home office environment, it is a good idea to have regular contact with colleagues, for example via chats, calls and video conferences. However, especially in long conversations or meetings with a larger number of participants, it is more environmentally friendly to keep the webcam switched off. Video conferences cause significantly greater CO2 emissions in comparison to just having a meeting without a video chat. If the webcam remains switched off, emissions can be reduced by 80 to 90 %, according to initial studies.


Con­clu­sion: pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­i­ty when work­ing from home

Under ideal conditions, home offices can make an important contribution to help protect our environment. The reduced daily commutes or need for business trips can in turn reduce climate-damaging CO2 emissions. You also can make your work at home more environmentally friendly by using energy-efficient appliances t, using office supplies sparingly and being aware of how much electricity and heating you use.

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