Green Office Carries Many Benefits To Your Health and Productivity
Do you work in a home office? According to reports, approximately 3.9 million Americans or 2.9 percent of total U.S. workforce work from a home office at least part of the time. If this sounds like you, you certainly understand that working from home has both its perks and its pitfalls. In short, sometimes it’s just difficult for you to be as productive as you’d like when you’re facing the distractions of home life while you work.
There’s good news, though! Studies show that a green office carries many benefits to you, your health, your cognitive capacity during the workday and your productivity! Whether you work in a home office or in a corporate setting, making eco-friendly changes can have a positive impact on the way you do business. Here are the most commonly cited benefits of implementing green practices into your office space.
You can avoid distractions
For those of you who work from home, you know how it goes. You’ll sit down at your desk to get started in the morning, then suddenly remember you forgot to pick up the kids’ toys. Maybe you’ve been working for a few hours and get up to grab a snack, then notice the pile of dishes in the sink. Most commonly, you’re hard at work and you hear someone knocking at your door. After all, you work from home, that means you’re available to chat, right? You can help eliminate distractions and boost your productivity by doing just one thing: setting up a garden office. Your garden office doesn’t have to be exceptionally fancy. It can simply be a storage shed in the back yard, or if you live in a pleasant climate it could be something as basic as a patio table.
Working in the outdoors will allow you to disengage from the distractions you’d ordinarily find when you work indoors. You’ll be better able to focus on your work while you are surrounded by nature, and the fresh air will help keep your mind fresh while you go about your day. If you work in an office environment, performing tasks outdoors may still be a possibility. For instance, teachers may choose to hold a class in the school yard. Many professions can take advantage of the outdoor space available to them, allowing them to improve productivity, avoid distractions and soak up a little sunshine.
You can improve morale
If your job is such that working outdoors is not an option, converting your space to a greener environment is still going to improve your team’s productivity. For one, an eco-friendly work space boosts morale of your team members. Everyone will feel good about doing good for the planet, resulting in happier employees. A happy staff (or business owner) is a motivated staff, and a motivated worker is a productive one.
Easy ways to begin to make your office greener include:
Implementing recycling programs
Hosting a drive for a charitable cause
Using live plants in your décor
Converting to more natural light, if possible
Encouraging a company carpool list
Converting to renewable energy
Ensuring lights and air conditioning are turned down or off at the end of each day
There’s another interesting reason implementing green practices boosts employee morale. That is this: when offices are more eco-friendly, employees are more inclined to think their bosses care about them. Even just the addition of potted plants to your work space can increase productivity by as much as 15%, studies say.
You can boost cognitive thinking
Scientists aren’t entirely sure why just yet, but a green office space can improve cognitive thinking in those who work there. This cognition includes a vast range of tasks you do every day: evaluate material, make decisions, communicate with others, strive to comprehend new concepts, evaluate information and commit that information to memory to name just a few.
Again, this improvement in cognition can come from taking steps as small as installing potted plants into the work space. However, studies show that the “greener” your office environment is, the more the cognition of workers will improve. Therefore, if you work from home consider developing a separate, green workspace that you can call your very own green office. As stated, it’s not clear why this green offices boost cognitive thinking. An improved mood from increased morale has been cited as one factor. An increase of quality of sleep is another. Workers in a green office setting – particularly one with plants – enjoy better air quality and fewer toxins in the environment. This quality sleep will obviously positively impact a worker’s performance, thanks to an eco-friendly office space.
You’ll shorten your commute time
If you work from home, you already know that one “perk” of a home office is the incredibly short commute. This carries so many benefits to you and to the health of the earth. You have more time to gear up mentally for the day. You have time to take care of tidying or straightening before your work day even begins. There are no stressful traffic jams on the I-95. Of course, your carbon footprint is much smaller than that of a car commuter.
If you don’t yet work remotely, why not ask your supervisor if that’s a possibility? You can make your job greener by working from home – even one or two days each week. Obviously, some careers won’t allow this. Most surgeons can’t do their job from a home office. Many careers do have this capability, however, so why not try to take advantage of it? The time and money you save by not commuting hours each day can be put into things you’d rather be doing. Working from home also allows you to cook your own meals and skip the office attire, saving you even more money. Telecommuting is a very green option for those who can, and it’s also an option that will boost your productivity. Use the time you’d otherwise spend in travel to do something productive, whether it be for your business, your family or yourself.
You’ll add structure to your day
For those of you who work in a home office, we have another reason you should consider setting up a green work space. The principle is quite simple – we’ve already talked about the distractions you face at home. When you set up a dedicated work space, you’ll add structure to your day. Do you currently work from home, yet you formerly worked in a traditional space? If so, you know the difference. When you were commuting to work, you have that time in the morning to gear up for the day, grab your insulated mug of hot coffee or tea and drive to work. That drive was your time to mentally prepare for the office setting, just as the commute home was time to get ready for your evening responsibilities. When you work from home, that’s a luxury you may find yourself missing. Instead of taking thirty minutes to listen to your favorite book on tape or blast some classic rock, you simply finish your breakfast and walk to your desk.
Setting up a dedicated office space will mean a world of difference for you. When you work from home, you risk distractions that come from working in a family space. Your kitchen, your bedroom, your living room or any other place you choose are communal. There’s no real transition from personal to professional save for just sitting at your desk. Add some structure to your work day when you set up a green, dedicated office space. When you walk through the door of your new office, you’ll immediately feel the shift in your mode from home life to work life. At the end of the day, when you shut the door on your green home office, you’ll be putting work aside until tomorrow so that you can focus on your family and your personal life.
You can conserve energy – and save money
Converting your office, whether it’s a home office or a traditional one, can help you conserve energy. As a result, you’re naturally going to save money. You’ll find your water bill and your electric bill are lower. You’ll find you have fewer shipping costs. Of course, you’ll also find that because your productivity is boosted, your overall bottom line will increase. Going green sometimes means an upfront cost. For instance, purchasing and implementing software that allows you to invoice without paper. Adding plant life to your space will have an initial cost. Replacing traditional bulbs with LED lights will, as well. However, these costs quickly pay for themselves, whether you’re improving your office’s insulation or just installing smart timers on your lights and thermostats.
As you begin to make changes, you’ll likely find that your teammates will provide ideas to do the same. They’ll begin to notice the benefits of a green office and will want to contribute! When you consider the changes they suggest, remember that the upfront cost of implementing these ideas is usually quite short term. Do the research, and it’s likely you’ll find that the cost of the changes will likely be minimal when compared to the long term savings.
You’ll experience health benefits
We’ve already covered, in small doses, some of the health benefits of a green office. You and your coworkers will sleep better, have a boost in cognitive thinking, and benefit from the cleaner air. However, the benefits do go far beyond those.
Health Benefits With Sleep
Let’s consider, for instance, the fact that you will sleep more soundly. Sleep is critical to your health, carrying the following benefits:
You’ll be more readily able to lose weight
You’ll be less likely to develop heart disease
Healthy sleep may help to reduce your risk of certain cancers
You’ll be less stressed
Healthy sleep allows you to remain more alert – and safe – throughout the day
Sleep is your body’s time to recover, down to a cellular level
In addition to the benefits of sleep, you and your green office teammates will experience:
A decreased exposure to chemicals
An increase in the sense of teamwork and community
A more comfortable, peaceful and relaxing work environment
A reduction of expenses, even down to a personal level
Even beyond those mentioned above, just the benefits of exposure to natural light are enough to prompt a change. Natural light will:
Improve your sleep cycles
Help prevent seasonal depression
Boost your intake of vitamin D
Reduces eye strain
Helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew
The benefits of a green office go well beyond being environmentally responsible. Whether you work alone at your home or in an office environment, you’ll begin to feel those benefits almost immediately.
You’ll have a more comfortable, healthy work environment
Even if you set aside the health benefits of a green home office or office space, it’s impossible to ignore one other significant benefit: a green space is just more comfortable. Done right, a traditional office space can be just as inviting as your home. We have the tendency to add décor to our workspaces that may be considered “professional” or even sparse. A green office space, lush with plenty of green, living plants and natural light can be an oasis. This isn’t only beneficial to you, it’s also enticing to your customers or clients.
The natural beauty of plants and the soft lines of organic and sustainable fabrics are only at the surface of the level of comfort you’ll feel. You, your team members and your clients will also enjoy improved air quality, the benefits of natural light which we’ve previously mentioned and aesthetic “pros” such as the muffling of excess noise. In short, a natural, green work environment boosts productivity and entices clients. These benefits working in concert will improve your business’s bottom line all the more.
You can create a paperless office
As you know, a paperless office is more eco-friendly than one that sends every file, invoice, payment and piece of correspondence using paper and a stamp. However, there are additional benefits to a paperless office that only serve to improve your productivity. First, your office will be much less cluttered. There will be no more file cabinets packed tight with tax returns from ten years ago. There will be no more hard copies of receipts from the HVAC repair woman from three years past. Instead, you’ll be able to store every receipt, invoice, letter, report and memo on just a few thumb drives!
Secondly, your business will become more streamlined and efficient when you implement paperless practices. You’ll be able to send a memo with a push of a button, and your coworkers and employees will be able to respond with the same. You’ll be able to share files, collaborate without confusion and communicate with clients without delay and without additional expense. Of course, “going paperless” will entail some initial cost. You’ll need to make absolutely certain your files are backed up, which may require additional work from your IT department or a third party. You’ll likely need to invest in software, which may carry a monthly or annual fee. However, like most efforts to go green, the cost of going paperless will benefit your company’s bottom line in the long run. Do your research and talk to other business owners; going paperless is one of the easiest ways to boost productivity and go green simultaneously.
Convert Your Home Office Into A Green Office To Boost Productivity
Around a quarter of Americans work from a home office, at least for a part of their week. Working from home certainly has its perks, but there are also distractions that may affect your productivity. Consider converting your office into a green office to boost your productivity. Whether you work from home or in a traditional setting, implementing eco-friendly practices is good for your business’s bottom line.
Lisa Czachowski is a professional social blogger and has worked on several online publications including Citrus Sleep. Lisa is an experienced content writer and copyeditor. You will find many of her works throughout CitrusSleep.com that cover a wide array of subjects including sustainability, natural, sleep products, health, fashion and many more. She is passionate about what providing as much information as possible on products you bring in your home and what we wear.
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