The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And for most of us, it’s time to get out of the house! Between work and the current need to stay home, getting out of the house can feel daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. By turning your patio into an outdoor office, you can give yourself a mini-escape.
Benefits of an Outdoor Office
Being outside comes with a myriad of health benefits, including:
1. Fresh Air Boosts Energy
A 2010 research evaluation published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology looked at five different studies to evaluate the vitalizing effects of being outdoors. Being outdoors was consistently associated with greater vitality, especially when paired with outdoor activity, like walking.
2. Sunshine Boosts Happiness
While there’s no denying that too much sunshine can damage your skin, not getting enough sunshine can actually damage your mood. Both sunlight and darkness trigger hormones in our bodies. Sunshine triggers the production of serotonin — a hormone that boosts your mood and helps you feel happy. Working outside, whether you’re in the shade or direct sunlight, can help you naturally keep your serotonin levels up.
3. Green Helps You Relax
Like sunshine, different colors trigger different responses in our brains. Scientists have found green tends to help us feel relaxed and tranquil. This is especially true for shades of green found in nature.
4. Sounds of Nature Boost Productivity
The Acoustical Society of America found that sounds of nature, like flowing water and wind whistling through the trees can boost your mood and improve your productivity. Depending on where you live, your patio might not be filled with natural sounds. If it’s not, consider playing music that mimics these sounds.
Essential Elements of an Outdoor Office
The essential elements of an outdoor office can vary depending on your unique needs. The following are the most common.
Comfortable Chair that Offers Support
A large, outdoor sofa can be great for lounging with a book or chatting with an evening cocktail. But for a productive workspace, you’ll want a comfortable chair with plenty of support.
In addition to a chair, you’ll want a space to spread out your work. Look for a table that’s big enough to accommodate at least your computer, a cup of coffee, and your phone. You also want to think about how your chair will fit with your table. Generally speaking, we recommend going and testing out patio furniture.
Laptops only run for so long before they need to be plugged in. The same is true of your phone and any other electronic device you’re using. You want to make sure that when you need access to power, there’s an outlet readily accessible.
Most of us need the internet, even if only occasionally, to do our jobs from home. Make sure that wherever you’re setting up your home office, you have a reliable connection.
Another key to making your home office comfortable is plenty of shade. A cantilever umbrella is a good choice, as it allows you to easily keep repositioning the canopy as the sun moves.
BONUS ESSENTIAL: Space for Clients
If you need face-to-face time with clients, an outdoor meeting can offer an easy solution. But, you’ll want the space to be comfortable and welcoming. This means having enough seating to accommodate everyone. In addition to your more traditional office setup, consider also adding an additional chair or two that can be pulled out as needed.
How to Make Your Outdoor Office a Success
It can be really tempting when you’re working outside on your patio or deck to get distracted. You might be tempted to start puttering around in the garden. You could find yourself playing fetch with the dog. Or you could just start daydreaming as the clouds change shape.
Alternatively, having an outdoor office could cause you to get sucked into work and never unplug. Neither all work nor all play is a good solution.
Instead, try establishing clear ‘office hours’ – times when you’re plugged in. And respect those times, unplugging and treating yourself to some outdoor fun when your time is up. It can also be helpful to create a clearly defined to-do list. Not only does this offer a clear sense of achievement when you cross something off, but it also helps you track how productive you are in your outdoor office.