Design Trend of the Month — Outdoor Home Offices
Working and learning spaces have suddenly become a must-have for many homes; but finding the right space can be a challenge in itself. With flexible work arrangements prompting us to re-imagine our work spaces, why restrict yourself to the indoors; find out why you need an outdoor home office today!
Perks of an outdoor home office
Wondering if the juice is worth the squeeze? There’s plenty of reasons to set up in the Great Outdoors that nourish the mind, body and soul, including:
There is ample research to suggest that being outdoors is vital to our health and wellbeing. Now that flexible work arrangements have taken such a front seat, working outdoors isn’t isolated to park rangers anymore!
Some health perks to setting up on the patio include:
- Fresh air increases energy levels, aids digestion, improves blood pressure and heart rate, cleanses lungs and strengthens the immune system.
- Natural light wards off seasonal depression (winter is coming…), improves sleep and reduces the elevated stress response associated with fluorescent lighting.
- Human beings thrive in a changing scenery; even if it’s just the breeze making the garden sway. Being surrounded by foliage is believed to promote calm, reduce stress and even increase focus and inspiration!
For many of us, our worlds are colliding; the separation of home and the office, work and play, family and colleagues, have disintegrated. So, how do we effectively keep our work-life balance in check?
Physical separation is one of the most important factors. If you’re setting up your office in the living room, you have very little chance of not being distracted. Kids playing; partners watching Netflix; the kitchen right there, full of all the delicious snacks you bought for the week…a perilous obstacle course of distractions. By setting up an outdoor home office, you are effectively removed from most of the distractions that the indoors offers.
There is also the mental separation of home life and work life. By simply setting up a work space outdoors, it can remove you far enough from the bustle of home life to allow the shift of mentality each morning.
Rituals have a powerful purpose in our lives. Usually, the morning commute or cafe stop-in allows a series of small triggers to switch from who we are at home, to who we are at work. However, when working from home, this trigger must be replaced with something that fits into your new routine.
The following outdoor office rituals can be highly beneficial to your work from home practice:
- Setting up: each morning, you are able to spend a few minutes creating a work space to hone focus, inspiration, creativity and productivity.
- Packing up: at knock off time, the ritual of packing away can be a therapeutic ritual to stop thinking about work for the day, so we can be more present with our families.
- De-cluttering: packing up each evening also give us daily opportunities to de-clutter, organise and file away; something that can get away from you with a stationary desk set up!
Reduced screen time
Time away from our screen is an important WH&S requirement for office work. However, when we’re inside, it can be far too tempting to use our schedules breaks to watch TV or scroll through Instagram. Basically, swapping one screen for another and completely defeating the purpose.
However, with an outdoor home office, our limited access to technology prompts us to relax in other ways. Hourly eye strain breaks are spent gazing over the garden, or watching wild birds in overhead tree branches. Tea breaks are spent with a fresh cuppa and a few pages of our book or magazine. Lunch hours lend time to spend some time on the yoga mat, or some light gardening, or slipping through the side gate for a brisk walk around the block.
Breaks are suddenly filled with quality time, rather than wandering around our home, getting distracted by the mail on the kitchen counter or the latest Netflix recommendations!
Mindset and setting are deeply connected. If you’ve shoved your desk into a dark, dingy corner, what do you think you’ll bring to your work day?
In fact, one of the biggest pet peeves of interior designers are desks facing walls. It offers absolutely no view to inspire or engage your mind, can create a ‘dead end’ mindset and leave you feeling as though your screen (and work) are exposed to the world, heightening subconscious feelings of anxiety and judgement.
On the other hand, as mentioned above, immersing yourself in a natural setting can effortlessly increase inspiration, productivity and energy levels!
Unique considerations for outdoor work spaces
With unique settings, come unique considerations; work through this checklist to make sure you’ve covered all bases!
- Is your internet speed or connectivity affected by being outside?
- Are there any reception ‘dead spots’ in your home that might affect your contactability?
- Where are your closest power-points?
- Are there any hazards around the power sources?
- Will you need power boards or extension cords? Will this create trip hazards?
- How much desk space do you need for each work activity?
- Does your work space cater for all your work activities?
- How can you best use the desk space you have?
- Can you de-clutter your work station at all?
- How can you style your work station to create a more positive space?
- Do you have an adjustable chair, with adequate back support?
- Is your table at the right height for your posture?
- Is your work station set up in line with WH&S standards?
- Are there desk accessories that could support a more ergonomic work space?
- Are you working with different equipment (i.e. now working on a laptop, rather than a desktop)?
- If so, are you across any differences in ergonomic guidelines for the new equipment?
Shade & shelter
- Do you have adequate sun protection?
- Is there adequate shelter from strong winds?
- Do you have shelter from the rain?
- Is your equipment sensitive to the elements? If so, do you know the care requirements and subsequent heat/dampness limits?
- Which direction does the light come from?
- How does this affect your screen?
- How does this affect your eyes; do you find yourself having to squint?
Home office sheds
If your work needs are not very portable, this home design trend could be the perfect fix. Harness the best of both worlds by converting a humble shed into a new outdoor work space! This enables you to set up a more permanent office set up, safe from the elements, while still enjoying all the perks of being outside.
Since this is a more permanent option, choosing the right location is important. For instance, if you can erect the shed close to an outdoor power point, this will make matters a lot easier. However, try to arrange the space so that you still have a nice view of your outdoor space, privacy from the main home and adequate natural light and fresh air.
Add some glass bi-fold doors to open the space up, make the place comfy with the right furniture, consider some temperature control for our unpredictable Aussie climate and presto; your work shed is complete!
Indoor-outdoor home office
If you don’t have the space for a whole new shed, or you already have an indoor home office, work with what you got!
With these indoor-outdoor home design elements, you can bring the outdoors, in:
- House plants
- Open windows (leave that A/C off for a bit and get some fresh air into the space)
- Botanical essential oils (the scents of lavender or chamomile reduce stress, while mint, eucalyptus or rosemary invigorates the mind)
- Nature-inspired white noise music (white noise is said to create a more productive work space than complete silence!)
- Glass doors, floor-to-ceiling windows or skylights (soak in that natural light!)
- Natural materials (stone, wood and clay have a strong grounding effect)
Written by Evelyn Kandris