Ever since the pandemic forced countless businesses to close, a vast number of people found their love of working from home. I'm pretty sure there were struggles along the way, with the first ones being "how do I take my equipment home, and how can I keep it away from our dog Chewie?" Soon, we increased productivity as a whole and wondered if this was the future of jobs in general. Is it sustainable for us to keep doing this?
The answer is yes, it definitely can be very sustainable. Specifically, sustainable for the environment and ultimately our social/mental/physical health.
Commutes are now from one bedroom to the other
...or maybe stay in bed, if that's how you roll.
I often heard coworkers express how grateful they were to get rid of their long daily commutes. The average American commute time was about 26 minutes, with many coworkers citing over 40 minutes one way. That's an hour and 20 minutes of their life sitting in a car every day. Keep in mind you've gotta factor in kids, making dinner, and (supposedly) sleeping 8 hours at the end of the day. Talk about work-life balance.
With long commutes out of the equation for a large number of us, that not only helps us breathe a bit, but also cuts carbon emissions drastically, if you care. We're talking about both gas and car production emissions. Electric vehicle batteries also don't get a free pass. (Why are these links mostly found on EU websites and not US sites? Hmm...)
To give a general idea of how much I've reduced my carbon footprint, here is my dashboard showing my stats for the past year and a half provided by my local transit agency (Pierce Transit):
Granted, this is my non-car use which included a 10 mile round trip of bicycling (70% of the time, roughly), run-commuting (5%), and using the bus (25%). But imagine how much more CO2e I could have reduced by not using the bus!
Multiply all of us not using cars like we used to, and we're saving the planet and our health!
Noticed something else? Yep, I saved over a thousand dollars in gas alone by going carless. That'll probably pay a good portion of a month's rent, depending on where you live. Since there's barely any gas expenditure (maybe minus grocery shopping, but there's always these), you'll be saving so much more money than you usually did while commuting to work!
Tip: Consider asking your car insurance to reduce your monthly premiums since you're not using the car as often anymore!
Employers can benefit, too!
It's not just the employee who gets all the fun. Employers can also cut down expenditures on running your business by allowing your employees to work from home. This includes a reduction on office space, utilities, transportation (like bus passes), security, and more. Not to mention all the approvals and processes you have to go through. Think of it like small-scale outsourcing, but with local citizens!
Helps forge healthy habits at home
Chore? I can do more!
Did you notice the pile of clothes at the corner of your eye and ended up putting them away? Maybe you did the dishes more often than usual. Or perhaps dinner tasted so much better when you have more time to experiment.
Staying at home lets you take a good gander at your own reflection, for better or for worse. It motivates me a little more to clean up when I have to occupy this space longer than usual. Our bed is no longer the place where we spend the majority of our "house time". Ever wondered why we spend so much money to keep a roof over our head to sleep?
Exercise cut down to size
How about having that extra time to finally exercise like you wanted to? Every morning, break, lunch, and evening, I have a chance to squeeze in simple workouts. Can't do that at the office! Imagine going down on the department floor and cranking out some pushups. I did once, and let's just say there's a time and place for everything.
Exercise improves mood, there's no doubt. You don't even need to go to the gym or outside, either. I try cardio alternatives to running such as "silent" burpees and mountain climbers (because I like to torture myself...jk). Be creative! I'll soon be posting some simple quiet exercises you can do at home on this blog. Don't worry, it's not going to be too intense.
Unless you want it to be.
Work ethics, plain and simple
Working from home also helps build discipline. If productivity dropped because we were so inclined to do something other than work, then that might be a good time to reflect on whether or not we get paid later on.
Sure, there might be less people watching you take your phone out and check social media. But do you feel good knowing that your workload might pile up more than it should? Do you have to keep vigilant of any incoming messages from your boss/client requesting you to do something at any time? It's probably not worth the effort to multitask work and entertainment.
Instead, stick to your set work schedule, regardless if you're an office worker, freelancer, or even unemployed (finding a job is a job in itself). Once you're done, you can do whatever you want without worrying about that "ping" sound.
Gives you more time with loved ones (and friends)
Depending on your domestic situation, working from home could improve quality of life. When I see my wife working so hard, I feel a little less lonely knowing we're in this together. We provide for each other as best we can, which motivates us to push even further.
When work is over, you might have more energy than usual. Use it to connect with each other! Try family cooking, watch a movie on the couch, or even play with your pets. Maybe you already set up a home gym. Challenge each other!
Remember those family fun times you had as a kid? Maybe? Small house parties with children running around (including your short little self)? Those were fun times. How about replicating it, at least with your family or the people you live with?
Try calling a close friend, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, the dudes. Rather than focusing on the act of doing something, why not have quality conversations? Social media can provide a bunch of people's feedback at once, but isn't it great to have that one special person (or two) to share that one specific obsession that might be embarrassing online?
In this day and age of digital information overload, sometimes it's best to step away and take a break...together.
Stay Home, Stay Safe helped us in more ways than one
As a human race, we've gone through some really tough times. Yet, we've pulled through, learning from our mistakes and downfalls to catapult us into the future. Working from home for many of us has seen better short- and long-term effects on not only our psyche, but our society as well. We need to keep this type of lifestyle for those who want it because it's sustainable.
Even if you're unemployed, this is a great chance to do some self-discovery. Who knows, maybe you're in for a treat.
What helped you?
Let me know in the comments if you liked this or how I can improve, and what you want to read next! I'm always learning about something, so keep an eye out for upcoming posts!