I myself have been working at home in the dark for weeks to save energy. With three sweaters on, the thermostat at fifteen, two pairs of goat wool socks and two bathrobes. But from this month we all have to consume less energy and a little faster.
We had to do that for a long time with the climate crisis, but now, with the war in Ukraine, especially. With every minute that we shower or heat longer, we are filling Putin’s war chest.
The cabinet is also behind this and launched a campaign entitled ‘Zet de button om’. The civil servants were chosen as the first, easiest victims, for whom the thermostat will be two (!) degrees lower from this month. There is also a website with tips for citizens.
When I read them, I thought: amateurs. Sure it saves energy if you ‘turn down the thermostat’, ‘only heat rooms where you are’ and ‘take shorter showers’, but it gave me a bit of a ‘heat plan’ feeling, like: ‘Wear light clothes as it’s 45 degrees outside’ – hello, that could really be a bit more ambitious.
And so I came up with the following additional measures. It’s not that hard, folks. We will do this job together.
1 First of all, fire all women, which costs employers a lot of money in energy. On average, women have fewer muscles, smaller organs and smaller bodies than men. As a result, they produce less heat – the difference can be as much as 35 percent! We really can’t take that into account in these critical times.
Rather put them to work at home. Then the washing machine and dryer can be removed – also all energy guzzlers – and the females immediately stay warm. We will have to take a look at how we are going to organize healthcare, the country, education, business, government and the judiciary without women – but that will work out.
2 Men don’t need to be heated at work anywaybecause they are ‘never cold’ – at least that’s what they always tell me. Millennials can also handle the cold well, because they have no money for heating at home – so they are already used to it.
3 Raise the heart rate. For years we’ve been doing nothing but keeping peace and calm in the office – time to stop doing that. So get more arguing, more affairs, more anger, more fun, more excitement, more joy—anything that raises the temperature. In Italy the heating is not on anywhere, not even in winter. It seems clear to me why that is. We have to go there in the Netherlands too.
4 Exercise at work to keep warm. So tackling problems, flying keeps, scrumming, being short on the ball, tossing balls, huddles, raising the bar, going straight in – I never thought jargon would ever be useful, but now’s the time to to use all sports metaphors literally.
5 Turn off devices you don’t use, or better, if you don’t use them. Think of people solitaire at work, or typing unnecessary memos, policies and guidelines – turn off their PCs and let them knit sweaters and scarves for their colleagues. People with fake jobs can go home anyway and help with the household and the children. This is definitely a great time for more quality time with the family.
6 And turn off the light after work! Everywhere at night I still see office buildings lit up like a Christmas tree, what madness is that?!
7 Rather install motion sensors everywhere. Now they are only there in the toilet, where they are the most clumsy! Have you just been enjoying your number two, you have to get out of your cubicle again to swing the light on – to drive you crazy.
Then hang them everywhere! That you also have to get off your ass to keep the light on at your flex desk, in the canteen and during stand-up. You stay warm right away. Also useful in the summer when the air conditioning turns your work into a freezer.
8 Oh yes, and turn those awful air conditioners ten degrees higher in the summer! I dare to call that an advantage of the energy crisis – that in the summer your fingers no longer freeze off when it rises above thirty degrees outside.
9 Let people work for their warmth or coolness. That the heating or air conditioning may only be switched on when the work is finished. Think of it as team building. Then you don’t have to go to an expensive conference center (talking about saving energy) – I say win-win.
10 Restore the office interiors from the eighties. So get rid of the large, echoing, energy-consuming open-plan offices and everyone has their own room again, (stained) carpeting, small windows, suspended ceilings and a central coffee machine instead of a barista on every floor – what do you think that makes a difference? Ugly offices are also much more pleasant.
11 But the most drastic piece of advice, which I struggle with myself, is that we should rethink our long-held dress codes. We’re letting go of all our decorum.
Think of allowing the turtleneck at the office (cry), the Mart-Smeets jersey (phew), the windbreaker over the jacket (aargh), white leggings, shorts (help) and yes, there it is, swallow: allow it again of the thong in the office.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, need breaks law, if we do it, we will go all the way.
Are you paying attention, Rob Jetten?
How was your week? Tips for Japke-d. Bouma via @Japked on Twitter.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of April 6, 2022