This Earth Day, join us as we reflect on how to work and live better for both the planet and people.

A new way of doing things

“As the world returns to normal, we can’t go back to business-as-usual”, So says the official website about the year 2021 about the current state of the environment.

We at Workero agree with this. In our corner of the world, we want to make a difference. And making a difference means that change is necessary.

In a very literal sense, we don’t want business to be carried out the way it was done before. We want flexible working and collaboration to become part of the new normal, because we know that these modes of working are good for the environment.

Good for the environment, good for us

In fact, wanting to do better for the planet, also means wanting what is better for human beings.

Or phrased differently, taking care of the environment is taking care of ourselves. Respecting the environment is respecting human beings – since it is the very earth that supports us and allows us to carry out all our activities. It isn’t immediately apparent, but the ultimate form of self-care is taking care of the environment.

We so often forget this fine line between our own wellbeing and that of the environment.

Think about it:

When we commute a lot, we poison the very air we breathe and we stress ourselves out. We make our environment sick, and get sick too.

When we make use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and rely on large-scale commercial farming, we see soil erosion, toxic water and environmental pollution, and a loss in biodiversity. We hurt the environment, but it also hurts us in terms of destroying the world, animals and our health. (That is why the European Commission encourages organic farming).

When we exploit wildlife, we come into contact with diseases that get carried over from wildlife to us. Again, when we disrespect the environment, this behaviour ‘disrespects’ human life as well. We’ve recently seen just how devastating this behaviour can be…

When we consume too much – that is, when we’re going far beyond the things we really need-* we destroy the planet. Consuming too much makes us unhappy in the short term, and hurts us in the long term in ways that social scientists, psychologists, and scientists are still trying to comprehend. In short, with no earth, there’s no us. Without a healthy earth, there’s no healthy us.

In a strange twist then, when you do what is good for the environment, most of the time you also end up taking care of yourself and others around you.

That is why Workero wants to usher in a world where hybrid working and collaboration becomes the norm. Flexible working is better for the environment and good for human wellbeing, while collaboration can help us build relationships and helps us innovate faster and find better solutions for many of the environment-related problems that we need to solve.

Why flexible or hybrid working is better for the environment and human wellbeing:

We can work our way towards a better world, by commuting less. This could mean that you work at a satellite office that is closer to home (than the head office), or that you take a few days out of your work-week to work from home. Breathing in polluted air can lead to all sorts of fatal diseases, and air pollution contributes to global warming, acid rain, ozone depletion, and soil damage. Travelling less is a way of taking care of the planet and those around you.

Not only is hybrid working good for the environment (and by extension, good for our health), it is also good for our mental wellbeing. During the pandemic we have seen that people have become incredibly isolated, lonely, and unmotivated due to being shut away from other people. But we’ve also seen that there were moments or periods when working from home was fun, and even more productive. In other words, people found that they would like a mix between working from home and working from the office.** Giving people the freedom to choose where they work, significantly increases their happiness and productivity.

In addition, the rise of property technology (known as PropTech), will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of existing and future office buildings. Offices are already designed in such a way to make better use of energy than homes, but will become even greener as new technology reaches the market. Read more about the role of PropTech in creating a greener future of work here.

Finally, Workero is working alongside its partner companies to facilitate more coworking and co-creation for a better future. We believe that companies and individuals who work together will be better equipped to solve some of our century’s most pressing problems. Due to the complex and urgent nature of climate change, working together to find innovative solutions for people and the planet to flourish, is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a necessity.

*Last year (2020) the Earth Overshoot Day fell on the 22nd of August. (This means that if the earth didn’t regenerate it’s resources – trees, water, etc. each year, we would have exhausted all these resources by 22 August.) Belgium’s overshoot day falls on the 30th of March. If everyone consumed like Belgians do, this would be the day a non-regenerative earth would be used up. ** Most employees (even employers) want a mix between working at the office and working from home. In addition, many want to work closer to home, when they go into the office.