How to Create an Outdoor Home Office Space
Let Nature Recharge You during Your Workday
The way we view our homes has changed greatly during the coronavirus pandemic. With home schooling, working from home, and lockdowns forcing us to spend more time than ever at home, the lines between our personal and professional lives have blurred. Our homes have now become our offices, daycare, schools, gyms, and even restaurants. Working remotely has turned our home environment into our work environment, making us rethink how we view all the rooms in our home.
After so much time working indoors and seeing the same four walls on a daily basis, having the freedom to move your computer out on your deck or patio is a welcome change. As warmer months approach, it makes sense to take advantage of our ample outdoor spaces and convert them into outdoor office spaces to provide a healthy respite with fresh air and natural light after spending weeks in tight quarters inside with family or roommates. Plus, the change in scenery will do wonders for both your energy level, your mental outlook, and your Zoom background!
Here's some tips for creating an outdoor office space that will help you recharge and reboot for a healthier and more productive work environment.
Location, location, location
Consider the space you have and pick your office spot to take advantage of positioning. You want to be far enough away from distracting noise, out of too much direct sunlight to avoid glare, excessive heat, and sunburn, and perhaps have a view of a lush garden, water feature, outdoor fireplace, or interesting architectural feature for optimal enjoyment of your surroundings. It might be on your porch or patio, under a gazebo, in a repurposed shed or pool house, or a screened sunroom. Choose the spot that works best for you.
Connectivity is key
In order to move your work space outdoors, you will need to make sure you have a reliable and strong WiFi signal that extends into your patio or porch area to keep you connected. You can extend the range of your router by installing a WiFi mesh networking system to ensure you have the range and bandwidth you need to work online. Bluetooth speakers are a must for your conference calls or to even use to enjoy music as you work. If you don't have existing outside electrical outlets, plan on installing some so you have access for plugging in any needed electrical equipment and chargers or use a portable power station. Also have outdoor-rated extension cords handy if needed.
Get a table and some chairs
You'll need a place to sit and set up your computer and work supplies so make sure you have a table and chairs that are designed for outdoor use. You can repurpose your existing patio furniture or purchase separate pieces that will only be used for your office space. You'll want a table that's large enough to act as a desk with room for your laptop and all your paperwork and office essentials.
Add shade from the sun
While getting a little sunlight is a great mood enhancer, too much natural light blasting down on you can lead to headaches, sunburn, heat stroke, overheated laptops, and at the very least too much glare on your computer screen. Make sure your work area has some shade to protect you from too much sun. If you are not in an enclosed space such as a covered patio, porch, or outdoor structure, you can put up a patio umbrella, awning, or even a temporary gazebo or pergola to create some needed and welcome shade.
Keep it cool
Although moving your office workspace outside gives you the benefit of fresh air, it also means you forgo the convenience of indoor air conditioning during the hotter weather. While you're busy working outside, remember to keep cool by installing a patio ceiling fan overhead if you are working in a covered area or use desk fan, tabletop, or floor fans to supply a refreshing breeze.
Keep it well-lit
Although you are working with plenty of natural light outdoors, it pays to have additional outdoor lighting to ensure you can see tasks easily as the sunlight conditions change throughout the day. Use outdoor floor or table lamps to add ambient lighting.
Make it comfy
Just because you are toiling away, doesn't mean you can't be comfortable as you work. Create a cozy work atmosphere with some comfy throw pillows on your patio chair or sofa. Keep a throw blanket handy in case the weather turns chilly. Update your patio furniture with colorful cushions to pad the seats and make your work space look more inviting.
Ensure privacy and block the noise
If you are working more in the open, use outdoor privacy screens, curtains, or planters to create an enclosure to make your office space more private and soften distracting noise from traffic and the surrounding environment. You can further block annoying sounds by using noise-cancelling headphones, white-noise machines, or even a water feature such as an outdoor fountain to drown out city noises.
Give it visual impact
A work space that is visually appealing is a more enjoyable place in which to spend your workday. Give your outdoor office some personality by adding decorative touches. Put an outdoor rug down to add color, texture, and an extra layer of sound dampening. Add some potted plants or floral arrangements on a side table, on your desk, or in a planter. Add some outdoor sculptures or figurines as accent pieces and a desk clock to keep you on schedule. Little touches here and there will make your workspace more attractive and personal and a place you enjoy during your work time.
Take a break
All work and no play can make you stressed, cranky, and less productive. Take the time to stop and smell the roses (literally if you have a flower garden). Make sure you set up a spot for taking short, needed breaks throughout the workday. This might be a separate sitting area for conversation, a porch swing to sit and relax during a coffee break, an outdoor TV to catch up on the local news, or a hammock in which to take a rest. Use break time to play with the dog, check in on the kids, or just bask in the beauty of your lawn and garden.
Enjoy the great outdoors while you work and reap the benefits that fresh air, sunshine, and the beauty of nature can have on your mood, well-being, and productivity. Just remember to stock up on insect repellent spay, allergy meds, and sunscreen before you head into the office.