Many of us are working from home more than we ever have. But who’s to say you must conduct your nine-to-five inside? Ariel Richardson, principal designer of ASR Design Studio, shares how she set up a functional outdoor workspace mostly from scratch.
“There’s nothing really ergonomic about outdoor furniture,” Richardson says. If you’re truly sitting outside all day, roll out an office chair--unless it’s made of a material that will heat up quickly, like metal. Woods and wickers are best for outdoor use. Your seating doesn’t all have to match, either: Ottomans like the ones seen here can double as a footrest or additional seating for client meetings. Most importantly, you should “select furniture that is durable and will last a long time--and give yourself the option to go from a hard seat to cushioned seat, depending on how you’re feeling.”
“A sturdy table is essential for working from home, whether inside or outside. Know how much desk space you need to ensure that your outdoor table will work. Make sure you have plenty of room for your computer, mouse, notebook, coffee cup, et cetera.” Pro tip: To ensure you have plenty of room to walk around your table, measure the space you have to work with, then subtract two to three feet from each direction to find your table size. As with your seating, stay away from materials that’ll heat up (or cool down) quickly.
To ward off pesky mosquitoes and other insects, go for an oil lamp, bug repellent tiki torch, or candle, like the terracotta-colored one seen here. No matter your preference, it’ll pay off double after dark, when the flames turn into mood lighting.
The Little (and Big) Things
The biggest challenge in creating an outdoor office is working with the space you have available. “It all starts with functionality. If you can’t use your space, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is--you will hate it!” A rug can help with that by defining the area you can utilize, not to mention it’ll add colors and patterns to your work area. For even more character, incorporate floor lamps or a crystal for good energy.
Technology, Meet Nature
Computers were not built to linger outside, which is why you want a screen protector for your devices. Richardson also reminds you to set up your workstation near an outlet to stay charged throughout the day. “If you’re on calls most of your day, freeing up your hands during meetings is important. Invest in a good headset.”
Adjust to the Elements
The key to staying productive outside is limiting your trips inside. To do this, make sure you can adjust to changing temperatures in a pinch. Keep a throw blanket nearby if it gets chilly, and have a canister of chilled water handy so you stay cool and hydrated. (If your outdoor area has an overhang, a ceiling fan is primo for this.) Add an umbrella to adjust your shade throughout the day. Finally, embrace your surroundings. “Being outside helps reduce your stress level. You have natural air. You’re surrounded by nature. It’s the best place to be, and it’s good for your emotional well-being.”