It was the stuff of dreams just 12 months ago. Being able to avoid the hassle of a long commute to work and just work from home. Imagine how much extra work you could get done during the day?
In the past six months, it’s become our new norm. Thanks to the impact of COVID19 many of us have been and continue to permanently work from home until further notice.
While it was a novelty at first, it’s a great example of the need to be careful what we wish for!
We all know and understand now, that working from home comes with both its benefits and its drawbacks!
But we are negating the drawbacks
As humans, we are an adaptable bunch.
While our daily physical activity and number of steps have taken a huge nosedive (its only 100 steps from one end of the house to the other), we are gradually working to correct this. We are getting outside and walking more. Taking the kids to the park. Walking to the corner shop.
The separation of work and home life is far more difficult. This has hit hard. But even with this, we are also working through it. We are putting in solutions that mean there is a separation of work from home life. We are beginning to be more disciplined about turning off the laptop and phone at a reasonable time. And we are becoming very able multi-taskers.
Our mental health had been a great concern. While this needs continual monitoring and work, the good news is that we are reaching out. Larger numbers of us are reaching out to the appropriate services and seeking help where we need. And that’s a very good thing. We are also reaching out to each other more, just checking in and seeing if our friends and co-workers are all ok.
So, while we were shocked at some of the drawbacks of our dream working environment, we are an adaptive lot, and we are working around it.
So, what are the positives?
One of the biggest winners from our new workplace arrangements are the benefits to environmental sustainability in our lifestyles.
The flexibility we have realised in working from home means we have more time in our days to really think about our lifestyles and making them more sustainable. And we are doing this!
We are driving less, meaning less pollution, less greenhouse gasses and fewer cars on our roads. And lets face it, at home we are much more likely to open the window than turn on the aircon, saving on electricity and being more sustainable. We are cooking and eating at home more, which means less food packaging and less waste.
We are shopping less and consuming less. Just go to your local shopping centre on Thursday night. It’s now likely almost a ghost town, with a lot of shops closing at 7pm rather than 9pm or later! There are just not the numbers of customers! This is driving less consumerism.
Our lifestyles at home are far more sustainable. We have dramatically reduced our carbon footprint. Those huge offices can be more often powered down, with less staff in them. They don’t need all lights on, all the time. We can close off areas in the office that are not in use, and turn off the aircon also! In the example above, with shops closing earlier, they are also reducing their energy footprint and minimising electricity needs.
We are also reducing the amount of plastics being used in our days. Rather than buying lunch from the café next to work, which is all packaged, many times in single use plastics, and also possibly using plastic cutlery, we are eating leftovers from last night’s dinner out of the fridge. We are eating these using our own re-usable, washable plates and cutlery.
Our daily coffee habits have also changed, making our own coffee at home means no disposable coffee cups or plastic lids. It’s more often your favourite coffee mug.
But it doesn’t stop there. We are actively looking for reusable, sustainable products. Cloth nappies are making a comeback for parents. Bonds have just released a new range of reusable feminine wear. And because we have the time to pop the washing on more easily, we are choosing sustainability over convenience. They are taking off!
Another great option is reusable bags for shopping bags or bread bags. Products such as Aussie Bread bags mean less cost to your wallet and also the environment. And with less time stress, we are very effectively integrating sustainable choices into our lives.
Well done Australia! Keep it up!