Home is where the heart is–and the computer, the fax machine, the scanner, the conference phone, the answering machine, the file cabinets, the UPS and FedEx truck…
It’s morning in my office. The computer is clicking away, the phone is ringing, the daily to-do list sits prominently next to my work area as my assignments pile up. There is a meeting in my office at 10am. It’s a typical work day, but I’ve got my pajamas on, the dogs are snoring loudly at my feet, the IPOD is singing and I stop to stretch and gaze out at the frozen pond.
I am pretty sure I’ve waited my whole work-life for this moment. For a former teacher whose commute consisted of leaving the house at 7AM and returning in the evening at 7PM, this is a dream come true.
There are so many reasons people work from home. My husband has worked at home for many years. It was the practical solution when our kids were young and my job required me to leave the nest daily. When the kids came off the school bus, Dad was home. For others, working from home eases financial burdens and lessens psychological stresses. Nowadays, many folks find themselves finding creative ways to work from home.
The Internet has made working from home a breeze. There are practical aspects to consider before you set up a home office. For example, do FedEx and UPS deliver to your home? Are you easily distracted? It takes a certain amount of discipline to work on a computer all day. Sometimes the household chores have to wait. There is less interaction with people and defining the boundaries with kids and family members can be challenging.
For me, the journey began about a year and a half ago. Finding space in my home was the first hurdle. The second was to design a green work space. I read, Green Decorating and Remodeling by Heather Paper and found design ideas and sources for creating an eco-friendly office. Paper explains, “With today’s proliferation of computers, printers and other electronics, the home office has the potential to be the least eco-friendly room in the house. Even the most high-tech space can be an integral part of a green lifestyle.” With just a few changes, your home office can easily go from not green to dark green.
Green Home Work Spaces:
• Desks–The desk is the centerpiece of the office. Desks made from well-managed sources, vintage or reclaimed wood or recycled metal with non-toxic finishes are eco-friendly choices. A traditional desk is 30 inches high. Computer desks are typically 26 inches high to accommodate for screen size. Here’s a source for refurbished office furniture. If space is a consideration, try a wall-mounted desk.
• Chairs–Working at home may require many hours of sitting. To be comfortable, leave at least 3 feet between your chair and the wall. Back support is essential. Here are some green chairs from Planet Green.
• Lighting–Reduce eyestrain, fatigue, headaches and bad posture with the right lighting. Get the facts about green lighting here. Ambient lights cover the entire area. Task lighting is more directed. Task lamps that utilize LED bulbs, and emit crisp and glare-free beams can be moved around as needed. Position computers accordingly for less glare. Natural light during the daytime is a natural energy saver.
• Technology–Look for Energy Star Electronics. They have been vetted by the EPA for energy-efficiency. Turn off the computer when not in use and work towards the goal of a paperless office.
• Storage–Shelves and files need to be accessible and organized. Sustainable storage pieces can be repurposed furniture for new, stylish storage. Consider jazzing up a metal file cabinet like the one here.
Want to have a rush hour like mine and join the ranks of the working pajama class? Can’t be your own boss? Here’s an article from Planet Green that tells you how to explain to your boss why you should telecommute.
Do you work at home? How does that work for you?
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.