Don’t Commute, Don’t Pollute

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They say that location is everything. Where your business is located can certainly have a big impact on your operations and your bottom line. It can also have a big impact on the planet.

Working from HomeMany small businesses are born in the most humble of beginnings: a small corner of a bedroom, the kitchen table of an apartment, maybe even a closet. Most expand to off-site offices as they grow, leaving behind the convenience of working from home for the increased visibility and professionalism of a “real office.” But for many types of businesses, having an off-site office is not at all necessary. Especially if much of the work revolves around a computer.

Luckily, working from home is very easy for graphic and web designers like myself. I do almost all of my work on my laptop, keep in touch with clients via e-mail, and don’t need much in terms of office equipment. I’ve thought about where I will go once I officially launch my own business, and have decided to stay put. After telecommuting for jobs in the past, I’ve become spoiled, and so my office will always be a spare room in my house, not a place I have to commute to.

While the daily commute has become quite the American tradition, telecommuting is gaining ground. Employers are finding out they can save on overhead by letting employees telecommute, and employees love the convenience of swapping their commute for the comforts of home. It’s a win-win-win situation: better for employers, their employers, and of course, the planet.

Anything that reduces driving will of course benefit the environment. Fewer cars on the road means fewer emissions and pollution, cleaner air, less wear and tear on roads and cars, less traffic (therefore more sanity!) and less contribution to global warming. So it’s important for small businesses, whether brand-new start-ups or established companies, to consider staying small and staying at home. Many companies compromise with employees by letting them telecommute a day or two out of the week. Others let certain staff that can work from home do so. There are countless benefits to starting a telecommuting program.

For a sole proprietorship, unless you need a storefront, you probably don’t need an off-site office. I meet with clients at their offices or at coffee shops and gain visibility through the web, not a downtown office. With advances in internet technology, it’s possible for many of us to work from anywhere. So we might as well save some gas, reduce pollution and emissions, and avoid the dreaded commute if we can!

Setting up a home office will allow new businesses to get started more quickly and is especially handy for those who need to work part time while they’re starting out. You’ll want to make sure your home is as green and efficient as possible, of course, and have a space set aside just for your business. I’ll discuss supplying and setting up a green office in an upcoming column.

Resources and Links in this article:

  • Green Living Ideas on Telecommuting.
  • Starting a Telecommuting program from
  • 5 Ways to make your home energy wise on Green Options.

This article is the seventh in a series called Green Dreams following my journey starting a green design business. You can read the series introduction, see some green business resources, get inspired, learn how to write a business plan, find out how to name a business, and learn why sustainability should be a part of your planning from the beginning in this series. Stay tuned for more on starting a green business!

Photo credit: Daniel Morrison, via flickr.