Why a Virtual Office Is As Green As It Gets

Fri, Apr 13, 2012

6. Misc.

Creating a green business may not be easy, but there are so many ways you can turn your company into a proponent of the environment. It’s easy enough to institute a recycling system, conserve water and energy, and even purchase renewable energy certificates. And many companies are willing to shell out the money for even greater environmental concessions like alternative energy sources (solar, wind, water) or a LEED certified facility. But for most small business owners these expensive endeavors are beyond the realm of possibility, regardless of how strong their eco-sensibilities are. And yet, there is one option for green-minded business owners that is eminently eco-friendly and that larger companies could never hope to take advantage of: a virtual office.

In this day and age an office that operates entirely in the online arena is not only possible, it is a great idea for the small business that can swing it. Of course, not every business type fits this profile. Some offer goods or services that require them to support a warehouse, an office building, or even a retail storefront. But if you happen to run one of the many modern businesses that allows you and your employees to telecommute rather than meeting up at a dedicated work site, then you and your green ideals are in luck because it is one of the most eco-friendly ways to manage your business venture. But what makes it so good for the environment?

For one thing there is no commuting involved. When workers stay home they not only save money on fuel; they also cut down on their carbon emissions each day, which means less pollution leading to climate change. Of course, other businesses may promote the same objective by offering incentives to employees that carpool, utilize mass transit, or opt to purchase hybrid, electric, or alternative-fuel automobiles. But there is no guarantee that the initiatives will take, and even fully electric cars that boast zero emissions still have their environmental downside (thanks to pollution and waste created in the manufacturing and recycling processes).

But there’s so much more. Think of all the things that not having a separate work space could do to reduce your carbon footprint. The average household uses far less electricity and water than most office or retail spaces. By running a home-based business (and virtually allowing your employees to do the same) you have total control over what you use, whether or not you conserve, and how you handle waste. Plus, you’ll be using and producing a lot less of everything. You won’t need to buy new furniture (supporting manufacturing practices that are rife with pollution and waste), you can purchase eco-friendly supplies when you need them, and your entire structure can be just as green as you want it to be (full of natural light, insulated windows to cut down on AC usage, electronics set to go into hibernation moments after you stop using them, etc.).

Unlike a leased office space you can institute alternative energy measures and use non-VOC paints and all-organic products (carpeting, textiles, and even food). And you won’t have to deal with rules and restrictions pertaining to business signs (some centers require lit signage), building maintenance (you can ensure the use of green cleaning solvents in your own home, and you don’t have to shell out for annual visits from the pesticide company), and landscaping (your yard can be populated by drought-resistant, native plants and kept alive with a filtered, gray-water system or even a cistern that collects rainwater). The point is, the virtual office may just provide the greenest path to our future, so if you can manage it, you should definitely opt for this type of operation.

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