How to Make Work from Home Sustainable

How to Make Work from Home Sustainable

It’s 2022, are you one of the fortunate ones that are still working from home? Remember the time when you needed to wake up early, allot time to pick an outfit out, shower, get ready, commute, pick up your coffee and finally clock in at work? 

We do too, seems like a different time back then, huh? If you are now part of the remote work revolution or want to join the club, read on. Here are factors you need to consider before trying to get or keeping that work-from-home job of yours.  

asian businessman in gray long sleeve shirt sitting on bed while writing on paper

Working from home has been around for over a decade, but certainly not for all of us. To many, working from home is a new concept, and idea that hatched amid a pandemic. We can admit that it’s been tedious, adjusting from our original office set up, to ensuring that our home can support the same office needs we used to have. Despite the hustle and buzz of the adjustment, we’ve found our ways in making things work. A few considerations we may have missed out on include the umbrella of “sustainability.” 

What is “Sustainability?”

By generic and dictionary definition, Sustainability is having our needs met, without compromising the eras of upcoming generations in getting their chance to meet their needs as well. Now have you thought about the selfless ways on how you can ensure that you’re practicing sustainability? It really isn’t difficult to decipher, the means and ways on how sustainability can be achieved, and it certainly isn’t a costly one.  

To give you a little bit of a push, here are 3 ways you can practice sustainability in a work-from-home environment… 

Work Culture

Think about it, if your motivation to work is nonexistent, then there would be no foolproof approach to achieving your goals and accomplishing your responsibilities. Ensuring that you are in a place where you can function effectively, leads you to a pathway of distraction-free and meaningful work. Work Culture is a sustainable practice that includes having your workspace and home clutter-free. Unwanted “clutter” may include online applications that keep you from accomplishing that week-late task you’ve been procrastinating on because there’s a new episode of this series you’ve been watching. Know that there is a time for everything, and it would be a wonderful reward to sit back and relax, without any worry of a task we missed.  

If work were a mathematical equation, it would most likely look like this: Goals + Self-discipline = |Job Well Done|. Yes, the “Job Well Done” is placed inside two vertical lines because it is in absolute value, making it an ultimately positive mathematical figure. But in layman’s terms, achieving Work Culture Sustainability simply means that your goals must be at the center of your work. Goals could mean the 10 tasks you’ve been assigned to do, or your children’s tuition fee, or perhaps your cat’s litter box that has been begging to be replaced. Discover your motivation and radiate that positive energy with your workmates.  

As mentioned in the Disney film “Mulan:” “Let’s get down to business.” Apart from reducing your carbon footprint by making wiser decisions in your work-from-home environment, sustainability can be achieved in ways that can be found right at your fingertips. You don’t have to go grand to become a catalyst for change. It’s simple, to work productively and efficiently, start with your work culture. Radiating positivity among your colleagues begins with highlighting your daily list of to-dos according to your priorities, avoiding stress and the rush to reach our work deadlines. A single step of sustainable practice, and you’ll be headed towards a habit of working sustainably, utilizing your resources, and maximizing your energy in achieving your work goals. 

businesswoman with a child on bed while working and using her laptop

Working culturally sustainable need not be a grand gesture for your cultural background either. It could be purchasing from a newly registered local business your neighbor owns. It might not be much to you, but to small-scale entrepreneurs, that tiny gesture you made, has already changed their outlook in life – motivating them to keep moving forward. Cultural sustainability while working from home can also be achieved through the lessons we learned in elementary and high school, using scratch papers to print out drafts, or switching to a Virtual Office, from our previous conventional and jam-packed office online layout.  

Think about it, we work hours and hours on the daily, would we want these hours be exerted by our hands in vain? We know that each second of our life is a second we will never gain back, however, the merits of our labor and the victory of our learnings, whether we triumph or receive a graceful defeat, in each of these circumstances – we learn, and we grow. To practice a sustainable work culture means embodying the values and goals we uphold and carry on as we work. Like in the popularized book series and film, Harry Potter, the house-elf “Dobby,” used to work under the shoulders of “Lucius Malfoy” who had dear Dobby work relentlessly. When Harry Potter gave Dobby a sock, he became a free elf. In this metaphor, we witness in the imagery of our minds, how working meaninglessly turns us into what is known as “Corporate Slaves,” yet we fail to see the brevity of each day, and the impact of our hard work. When our goals become aligned with our actions, we become “a free elf,” who works not for meaningless wage, but for fulfilling and live-giving means.

a harry potter book and black headphones with trinket

Digital Productivity

Research conducted in the United States found that an average office employee with a 9 to 5 job, uses as much as 10,000 sheets of paper annually. Apart from using paper, in the Philippines, we’re certainly not new to purchasing and adding to our online cart. Countless times, we dispose of plastic waste without thinking about where it would head next. For environmental advocates and the like, the answers to this universal question would say that our plastic waste would lead to landfills, bodies of water, or to places we’ve never been to nor seen before because of its unappealing smell and sight.  

How can we practice Digital Productivity in our work-from-home setup? It’s simple! 

-You can organize the folders on your desktop. 

-Narrow down your cart in that e-commerce website, and filter what you need from the things that you’ve added impulsively. 

-Understand that our emotions do not pay the bills, hence they too must not be in control of our actions, especially in making purchases. 

-Start using digital tools such as online notetaking applications or online planners. 

-Consider deleting the screenshots you took for that class or work meeting that you know you’ll never open again. 

-Use an online hard drive, and trust me, this will definitely help you! Have your files at the tip of your fingers anytime and anywhere you need them.  

-Spend less time online, try a social media cleanse routine from time to time, play with your cat or dog, or tarantula or any other animal you have at your home, or water your plants and perhaps repot them – they help produce the air you breathe each day. 

woman using black and silver laptop computer with a cup of coffee and notebook while working from home

In the 1998 box office film Good Will Hunting, late and brilliant actor Robin Williams, played the role of “Doctor Sean Maguire,” who expressed a striking line that goes “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” And that my friend, is a line that must stay with you through the highs and lows of each slope you will encounter in life. Digital Productivity is just like that, work efficiently, work for your goals, and let not the troubling news online rain on your parade. You take part in your occupation, whether you’re a startup, a founder, a corporation, an employee, you have a seat at the table, your responsibility is to make your seating worthwhile – because let’s face it, you won’t spend the rest of your life on that single table. Part of life is meeting people who touch your soul, people who would remind you why a simple thing called “sustainability” – has allowed you to live outside of that room where you used to sit at the table. To say it simply, our days become a breeze, a breath of fresh air, each minute we are mindful of our actions.  

If sustainability were to be explained to you as if you were a five-year-old, it would only be one word – “kindness.” 

a person petting the face of a brown puppy

Who pays for your Work From Home Setup?

Utility bills, telco bills, food expenses, our impulsive-buying purchases, it’s like the list can go on forever. Part of achieving sustainability in a work-from-home setup is investing in renewable energy. This doesn’t mean buying a new solar power panel to attach to your roof. Investing in Renewable Energy means having the initiative to utilize your resources without neglecting your responsibilities and commitments.  

If your company doesn’t help you with your new expenses, here’s a couple of practices you can do to minimize the additional expenses:  

-Ask yourself, do you really need to order food out today?  

-Make your own coffee! 

-Maximizing work hours for work-related responsibilities 

-Use a Coworking Space to lower utility costs at home  

-Turn on the air-conditioning only when you really need it 

One particular place that offers everything from free parking, free gourmet tea and coffee, and unlimited fiber optic internet access, are coworking spaces. Imagine hitting a curve right onto your utility bills. Save up the ultimate cost when you use a Coworking space to work remotely.  

In the 2006 novel-based film, Devil Wears Prada, actress Meryl Streep, portrayed the role of Miranda Priestly, who shared one powerful line that says: “This “stuff”?… You think this has nothing to do with you…what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not Lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns… that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of “stuff.” If you’ve watched the impeccable film, you’d pretty much experience goosebumps upon watching and hearing Miranda Priestly’s line. Just as how it was expressed in the film, each action we create, ripples through the weaves of time and works we make in each aspect of our lives.  

three vogue magazine on table

Do you have a quiet office-like space at home, where you can work efficiently, If you answered “Yes,” then is your office-like set-up distraction-free? Liberated from the appealing call of your bed, and refrigerator which you visit every ten minutes, just to check how the water bottles inside are doing. If you answered “Yes” again, then you’re pretty strong! But, here’s the technicality, like the line “with great power comes great responsibility;” we now say “with great home office, comes great utility bills.”  

You see, there’s a catch when you’ve got the finest technology at your home for your work-from-home set-up, and it all usually boils down to the charges you’re billed with each month. You sure wouldn’t want to go broke shedding countless amounts for bills when you work tirelessly each day. This might just be the sign you’ve been waiting for to finally choose a coworking space for your corporate job, or perhaps switching to a virtual office, in case you happen to be an entrepreneur.

a private office with 2 oak tables, a black ergonomic chairs, and a metal office drawer with a view of palm trees outside

If we work to spend, and we spend to regain our motivation to work, then we’re certainly in a never-ending loop. If you are a business-owner with no office yet, you might want to consider using a private office at a coworking space. You might think it’s trivial at the beginning as you wouldn’t own your own building, you might think that having a billable workspace is probably not worth it, but think about it, if you don’t have a home office you might want to explore else where for that change of scenery. 

For business owners who may want to hit their sales right off the bat, and curve their expenditures while downgrading their carbon-footprint, another spectacular idea is a virtual office. Instead of spending millions on building a single branch, you can strategically begin by building your team through the benefits and foundation of a virtual office. With this in mind, you can also skip the haste when you apply for certifications, and registrations, because a virtual office covers all that for you. You can think of this as a day using public transportation. Instead of joining the traffic and finding yourself stuck in the middle of a mile-long traffic along EDSA, you can instead, take a road less-travelled by, which will take you in the same destination, at a shorter time. 

a creative and colorful kitchen and pantry

The Top 3 Features A Work Space Should Have

First on the list is Air Quality. Let’s discuss some Science for a second...

Air quality, yes you’d be surprised, turns out the air we breath greatly affects are mental well being and productivity, make sure that your workspace is clean, dust-free and ideal for the role you have. It turns out indoor air is more polluted than what we have outdoors. Now considering that we are still going through a pandemic, air quality has never been more vital not only for work, but for your over all well-being. 

two coworking booths with the words dream and focus on top, with a long brown table with 2 yellow sofa couch and 2 green sofa couch on each coworking booth

Second, A good Chair. Seems Simple Enough, Right?

We spend hours seated in at work, sometimes in chairs, couches, and even on our beds. When we do so, we get distracted with the little things, like the sheets of our bed, our cozy couch, it almost feels like a message from the universe, telling us to sleep. Sometimes not having a good chair also degenerates our health, causing back pain, muscle tension, or even early signs of scoliosis for bad posture. A good chair can make all the difference, especially during these trying times when we spend hours seated before our computers to work from our homes.

Invest in a good an ergonomic chair, be kind to your back, buy a work desk. See the difference for your self.

Last but not least, this is a no-brainer, a reliable internet connection.

The internet has become one of our necessities in staying connected and conducting our daily activities, be it in school or at work. Imagine a connection that never buffers, no lag when you play games, nor a hint of distress when you’re chasing after emails. Make sure you have a back-up connection, that’s the smartest thing to do. 

Everything in Between

In stumbling upon this read, if you had read each word or at least glanced through each paragraph, you are now a wiser human being. However, to give you a takeaway in case your mind wandered off in the middle of the lines, and headed to cloud nine, here’s what we have to give you as a remembrance of thought: 

  • Have your goals at the center of your work and your values at the center of your life. 
  • You take part in your occupation, whether you’re a startup, a founder, a corporation, an employee, you have a seat at the table, your responsibility is to make your seating worthwhile. 
  • If sustainability were to be explained to you as if you were a five-year-old, it would only be one word – “kindness.” 
  • We each make a difference in the lives of people we know and even unknowingly, in the lives of strangers. 
  • Understand that our emotions do not pay the bills, hence they too must not be in control of our actions, especially in making purchases. 
  • You never go poor when you give to those who are in need.  

Dream, Focus, and Hustle

Three words to use as a mantra each day, the first word which is “Dream,” serves as a reminder for each of us to be cautious of our actions as we dream and achieve our goals. The second word which is “Focus” sheds light on our discipline as individuals who are in the corrupt sands of commerce, bandwagon, and propaganda. “Focus” reminds us to take each day slowly because each action we create and each step we take affects others too, even strangers whom we may not know. Lastly, the word “Hustle” reminds us of the 2004 action-comedy film that was directed and written by a well-known actor and producer – Stephen Chow, Kung Fu Hustle. The story depicts the lives of a lowly man who desired to be a master of Martial Arts, rising above obscurity and poverty. The protagonist, “Sing,” portrayed by Stephen Chow himself, persevered through each obstacle he faced to achieve his dream of becoming a master of Kung Fu 

While it’s commonly easier said than done, we take these three words as words of the dictionary and create their own meaning in our lives. Dreams to mean what we truly desire to establish for ourselves, our loves ones, and the people close to us. Focus, to mean our diligence in learning as we grow. And hustle, to mean working sustainably, beyond our individuality, making mindfulness a habit to live by.  

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