Move Your Office Outdoors
It started with sidewalk cafés. Hemingway wrote novels in Parisian cafés. Byron and Shelly discussed philosophy at Rome’s Café Greco. More recently, J.K. Rowling wrote the early Harry Potter books at Edinburgh’s Elephant House café. Now Google has installed outdoor desks for its employees. What is it that makes an outdoor space such an appealing place to work?
- Productivity-boosting stress reducer. Natural settings reduce stress. Hard science supports what we’ve always suspected: There’s a direct link between stress and heavily built-up urban environments. More time in natural settings resulted in reports of less stress and stress-related illnesses. And it goes without saying, less stress means more productivity.
- Additional work area without an increased building footprint. Institutions with campuses have ready-made outdoor office space, as do many office buildings. It’s like being given free office space. MIT added a number of movable chairs to its existing outdoor common areas, and found that the chairs were constantly in use for classes, meetings, and individual study – activities which normally took up indoor space. Mobile reconfigurable workstations such as Swiftspace (shown below) are well-adapted for outdoor use, too.
- Provides a recruitment advantage. Outdoor access rates high on recruits’ must-have lists. An outdoor workspace can help attract and retain top-quality talent, reflecting a company’s values of sustainability and a creative workplace. Environmentally-friendly furnishings, like those made of “Greenwood” recycled plastic lumber, demonstrate a company’s commitment to sustainability. Most outdoor furnishings are movable, giving high-performing staff a valuable sense of autonomy.
- Sets the tone for meetings and activities. An outdoor lunch meeting is more relaxed than an indoor white-tablecloth lunch meeting. Likewise, an outdoor business meeting is less formal than an indoor meeting. The casual atmosphere of an outdoor setting allows creativity to flow and lets people collaborate without constraints.
Working outdoors provides a new perspective, quite literally. In SoCal, we are blessed with a climate that invites us to spend time outside. Why not take advantage of the natural gifts right outside your office door, and set up an “outdoor office” for everyone to enjoy? The results might surprise you.
Photo © Africa Studio / AdobeStock