Working From Home Makes More Sense Than Ever
2) Get a Good Desk
Buy Used. My 1952 desk designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller is incredibly practical, if a bit large for many home offices. My wife also works from home on a George Nelson classic. I bought both of them years ago for hundreds of dollars; they are now worth thousands. All the particle board IKEA desks I bought at the same time for about the same money are now in landfills.
So go to the used office furniture store and find something solid that will last and retain its value (or even gain in value if you buy the right thing.) Other places you might try are Freecycle, and right now there are a lot of auctions from bankrupt or shrinking financial institutions.
The TreeHugger Buy Green roundup includes desks that are " all designed with the environment in mind, whether they employ responsibly-harvested wood, use non-toxic finishes that won't dirty your workspace's air, exercise really great design ideas that just use less stuff, or all of the above. Each is designed for longevity -- whether through super-sturdy materials or easily replaceable parts -- so it's likely that any on the list will be the last one you'll have to buy for a very, very long time." Read more at BuyGreen: Desks and Workstations
Stivoll of Germany makes this desk that has an unusual method of height adjustment, a pop-up sloping writing desk, pullouts and hidden trays, cable management and absolutely stunning workmanship. More from Stivoll at ICFF.
Transformer Desks: For those who don't have the space to have a dedicated office, there are many new options available in for desks that fold up and hide your work. We have shown hundreds on TreeHugger; they are finally becoming mainstream and relatively affordable, such as the one shown above from Crate and Barrel. More at Transformer Furniture Goes Mainstream
See many more transformers with our posts tagged Transformer Furniture
3. Get a Decent Ergonomic Chair
We covered a few in our roundup: "Anyone that sits at a desk or in a chair for part or all of their work knows that what you sit in really matters. Not only does it affect how comfortable and productive you are, but poor seating can have some pretty negative long-term health effects, limiting your ability to earn the green." More at BuyGreen: Office & Desk Chairs
Of course, the very first comment to the post was "These are crazy expensive, who can afford a $600 chair?" and the answer was given by another commenter:
"When it comes to buying things, I'm one of the cheapest people around, but $600 or $700 for a comfortable, well-designed chair you sit in for 8-10-12 hours a day, 5-6-7 days a week is actually quite a bargain. Your productivity is certainly going to be higher if you're comfortable, your health will be better if you're sitting in a chair that works ergonomically and your general mood is bound to be better when you're spending all day in a chair that actually works for you."
However in these times you can also probably find Aerons and similar chairs in the used furniture stores, at auction or on ebay, where right now there are 219 of them that appear to go for about $400.
Then again, some people make their own; a couple of years ago we had an "old faithful" competition and Anthony Pagani won with his conversion of a seat from an Audi. "If I find a quality item that's been designed well and truly makes my life easier I will hold on to it and take care of it rather then simply replacing it, which is way too easy to do and accepted in our culture." More at TreeHugger "Old Faithful" Winner: Anthony Pagani
4. Work Smarter and Greener.
Go Paperless. The New York Times reports that families are going paperless far faster than businesses; they have to pay the price of ink jet cartridges. "Paper is no longer the master copy; the digital version is," says Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. "Paper has been dealt a complete deathblow. When was the last time you saw a telephone book?" More in The Paperless Home
There is an old joke: "The paperless office will become a reality about the same time as the paperless toilet." If you can't go paperless, print less. Jaymi lists five programs that help you reduce the amount of paper you need to use. Save Paper, Save Money: 5 Free Software Downloads That Spare Your Printer
Other programs that cut paper waste. When I saw this post on Hugg from Greenliving about new software that eliminates wasted pages I yelled YES!! so loudly that the cat ran away. It should be a standard feature on any computer: "I want to see what is going to print, I want to take out the crap I don't care about, and I don't want to waste paper". Greenprint: Software that Saves
Small Programs run on Smaller Computers. I would not suggest that you try to run an office on an Asus eee, but the fact is, there are a lot of software alternatives that do what the big boys do while running on smaller, older computers. You don't have to go out and buy a high-end machine capable of running Photoshop when you are just resizing and cropping pictures; on a PC you can use Irfanview or Faststone Capture (free or cheap) for pictures and lean, mean word processors like Abiword. You can even do it without any software with Google or Zoho.
For the Mac, I use EasyCrop for pictures (much faster than trying to use iPhoto). I am still looking for a good free word processor. See our (soon to be updated) BuyGreen: Desktop Computers and BuyGreen: Laptop Computers
Read other tips and tricks. Web Worker Daily and LifeHacker and Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Work Week Blog are a constant source of ideas, while Seth Godin is a constant source of inspiration.