How to create an outdoor office space
If you’re tired of being cooped up in the same room every workday, it may be time to switch up your environment. You don’t have to go far — simply moving your station to your porch or backyard can make a world of difference in your work life.
Working from home gives you the unique opportunity to spend your busy hours in the sunshine. Fresh air, sunlight and a cool breeze can do wonders for your creativity and productivity.
There are a few factors to consider when setting up an outdoor workspace. To stay comfortable and focused, you’ll need to have comfortable seating, reliable internet, a power supply and items to keep you cool.
What to keep in mind when working outdoors
If you feel unfocused or woozy, you’re probably not drinking enough water. When working outside, especially in the summer, filling your cup or bottle with ice first will help you stay cool and refreshed all day.
Working outside is just as taxing as working indoors, if not more so. Remember to get up, stretch and take a lap around your backyard or porch. You may even want to pop inside for an air conditioning break.
Consider your environment
Are there a lot of allergens in the air? Do you have noisy neighbors or construction on your street? If so, you should plan ahead by taking allergy medication and wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
What you need for an outdoor office
Protection from the sun
Even if you’re not working in the heat of the summer, you’re going to need to protect yourself and your tech from harsh UV rays. While sunglasses can help your eyes, they may impair your view of your screen. Instead, sit in the shade of an awning, tree or patio umbrella.
If you’re still having trouble seeing your display, you can get an anti-glare screen for your laptop. Overheating is another issue to account for. Make sure you don’t block any of the computer’s fans. You may also want to consider a laptop stand to prevent your device from soaking up the heat of a metal table or surface.
Sunscreen is imperative for protecting your face and neck. A desk fan will also help keep you and your computer cool all day. With your own source of airflow, you won’t be left suffocating from the humidity if the breeze dies down.
If you aren’t working from a completely paperless system or prefer to handwrite your notes, you’ll need to account for that outdoors. A strong breeze can take you from a productive flow to chasing your hard work across the yard. If you’re using or organizing loose-leaf paper, make sure you have something heavy on hand to weigh it down.
One of the biggest issues with working outdoors is finding a supportive place to sit for hours at a time. If you already have a comfy patio furniture set, you don’t need to worry much about this part. But if your outdoor furniture is rough on your body, you’ll need to make some enhancements before settling in. Depending on your body and preference, this may include a seat cushion and a support pillow.
If you don’t have anywhere to sit outside, not all is lost. Consider a portable furniture setup or sit on a blanket with a lap desk. If you prefer to stand while you work, you can forego a chair and cushions altogether in favor of a portable standing desk.
Connection and power
This is the most important part of taking your office work outdoors. Without a solid internet and power connection, your time outside will be severely limited. If your Wi-Fi doesn’t have a wide range outside of your home, you can use your phone’s hotspot or a mobile hotspot device (though your video calls might be a little iffy). You can also use an internet signal booster or range extender to get a higher-quality connection.
Additionally, you’ll need a source of power. Many houses have exterior outlets, but if yours doesn’t (or you’re sitting across the yard to catch some shade), you’ll need an extension cord. Unless your laptop battery has an extremely long life or you have a portable charger, you won’t be able to get much work done without being plugged in.
Moving everything you need for work outside can quickly get exhausting, especially if you have to bring furniture outdoors. It can feel like you’re spending more of your time going in and out than actually sitting down and working.
One way to improve this part of the process is to pack an outdoor work bag. Before you go out, pack all of your supplies (including water and snacks) in one backpack or tote bag. You can even do this the night before so you can get to work faster. A good laptop bag will allow you to keep liquids separate from your tech supplies.
If you need more materials than can fit in the typical shoulder bag, consider a transport cart or an outdoor cabinet to store some office basics in. Having one for sunscreen, extension cords and other items frequently used outdoors will save you room in your bag. You can also store any portable furniture here so you don’t have to get it through your backdoor every time bad weather comes through. For easy maneuvering, choose portable furniture that’s small and lightweight.
Other outdoor office considerations
One of the most distracting inconveniences when working outside are bugs. They get in your face, sit on your snacks and buzz in your ear when you’re trying to concentrate. If you’re not careful, you can end the workday scratching at mosquito bites. That’s why it’s important to apply a lightweight bug spray whenever you work outside, especially in the summer months.
If the bug population in your yard is too high for bug spray to combat, you might need to invest in a mosquito net. This fine mesh hangs around your patio area and keeps bugs away without interrupting the airflow.
Even if you live on a quiet street, the occasional truck or group of kids can ruin your concentration or interrupt you during a video call. If you’re the only one who can hear your surroundings, you can simply use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, as mentioned above. But if you have frequent virtual meetings, background noise can become a regular issue.
You can fix this by covering ambient noise with your own relaxing music. An outdoor or portable speaker can take your backyard office into another world away from neighborhood noise. It can also help keep you focused throughout the day.
If you’re working on a concrete patio or porch, you don’t have to worry about your furniture shifting or sinking. But if your office is set up on the dirt, make sure you choose a spot in your yard that has tough enough ground to keep your furniture in place.
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