Now that our homes have become our offices and remote working is here to stay for many of us, we need to think about the small things we can do to be more digitally sustainable.
In this article I will list seven tips to help reduce the impact of going from having one large office, to now having multiple small home offices all over the country and abroad.
We all are becoming more aware of how our online lives impact the environment, but maybe not so aware on what we can do at an individual level. So here are some small changes to our habits to help you to become a little more digitally sustainable when working from home.
1. Internal Meetings
Video calls have been a main part of how we have been able to work remotely, but there is an environmental cost to having online internal meetings. Where previously you would all have gathered in a meeting room in your office, now each individual has to dial in via video call.
So here are just a few tips on how to reduce the carbon footprint of your next team meeting:
First of all decide if the meeting is needed, if so, then make sure only those that are really needed for the meeting are invited. Secondly, try to use audio only during the meeting or have only the person speaking with their camera on.
On a more technical side, you can change your camera or video quality by going into the settings to alter the resolution of both the video you send and the video you receive. By selecting Standard Definition you will see and send a lower quality video, which will use less data and therefore less energy.
Try to send less emails. An individual email doesn’t amount to much carbon footprint but when you add up every email user in the country, then it quickly amounts to large amounts of carbon emissions.
Streaming music, whether through Spotify or YouTube, acquires a lot of power; but there are one or two things you can do to make this process a little greener.
If you are only going to listen to a song a couple of times then streaming is the best option, however; if you’re going to listen to the song repeatedly then downloading to your device may be a more sustainable option. And finally, the most sustainable choice is listening to the radio.
An alternative to using Google or another common Search Engine is to use Ecosia. Ecosia uses the money it gets from advertising to plant more trees, with projects in the likes of Brazil, Tanzania and Peru. In fact, at the time of writing this, they have already planted over 110 million trees.
Undeleted emails and stored documents might not seem like they use a lot of energy, but if they aren’t stored on your hard drive they are stored in the cloud. The cloud is the name for internet data centers which consume large amounts of power to run. So a few things you could do is clear out your emails from your Inbox, especially ones with large attachments, and review what you have saved to the cloud to see which documents can be deleted.
When ordering deliveries to home, avoid using next day delivery as this is less sustainable than choosing standard delivery. Standard delivery allows for the company delivering the item time to add other deliveries that are in your area and thus allowing many items to be delivered for one journey.
When having a quick break from that report which is already overdue and you want to see the latest trending cat video… there are a few little things you can do to be more sustainable, even here! First you can reduce the video quality from the default High Definition to something that requires less bandwidth such as 480p resolution. And secondly, don’t watch the video on full screen. Instead, reduce the size of the viewport to reduce the consumption of energy.
These are just a few examples of how we as individuals can help reduce our carbon footprint when working from home. So next time you’re sitting on a video call with your team, let them know you’re turning your video off to help reduce your carbon footprint and they can do the same. It’s the perfect excuse to keep working in your PJs!