The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns led to two major trends.
One, more people who were working from home decided to relocate to even more suburban or rural locations. Working from home meant that commuting time and distance didn’t matter, and the move often improved the quality of life and reduced the cost of living for the householder.
Two, as a result of these movements, many people choose to work outdoors during good weather.
The growth of home workspaces for gig workers, freelancers, and now full-time employees, has been explosive. There are good reasons for this.
First, the warming weather can be intoxicating after being boxed in and in some cases, isolated, during the depths of winter and COVID lockdowns.
Second, natural light or sunlight has a positive effect on mood. Sunlight increases the production of serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for inducing feelings of happiness, calm and serenity. In addition, exposure to sunlight increases melatonin production, leading to better quality sleep. Both of these factors improve overall productivity and job performance.
Finally, a nicely designed and organised outdoor space looks just awesome. After all, Mother Nature is the original decorator.
There are five things that are needed to create the ideal outdoor workspace. The first is a wifi system that provides security and is powerful enough to accommodate your devices being outside. Second, some form of shelter or shade. Third, furnishings that will do double-duty, allowing the outdoor space to serve as an area of relaxation and entertainment as well as a home office. Fourth, some form of screening for privacy. And finally, plants, plants and plants.
Bringing The Internet Outdoors
The challenge of receiving adequate wifi signal outdoors can often be the most difficult of these elements to fulfill. Many people get a modem and router from their Internet service provider, and those devices are rarely powerful.
Your first option is to replace your modem and router with something more powerful. If you’re not that technical, this might not be a great option as you’ll often need to configure the new modem with your internet account details (otherwise you won’t have any Internet).
An easy fix is to still use the modem you received, but run your wireless system through another system instead.
The most popular option today is a mesh system. These consist of a number of portable wireless bases that can placed around your house. The mesh system takes your internet signal from the router, then broadcasts the signal from each base point. This lets you place a base point wherever you want, which is great when you’ve got walls that traditionally block your wifi signal. Mesh systems are awesome because you’re running the same network the whole time, so when your device moved between bases you won’t switch between networks.
Another option is a wifi repeater. This is a device that takes an existing wifi signal and repeats it. They’re usually smaller devices that plug into an wall sockets. They’re not really all that great, because moving between the network points can disconnect you from the network.
ps. If your house is equipped with “smart” devices such as security cameras or outdoor lights, you might already have an outdoor wifi router system.
Outdoor shade and shelter can be as simple as a covered porch or patio, or as elaborate as a gazebo, pergola or shed. The shelter should be large enough to offer protection to electronic devices from rain or popup thunderstorms, and it should be positioned so that your screen is shaded during work hours.
In warmer or more humid areas, the addition of a ceiling fan might be in order.
Furniture For Fun
Dual purpose furniture is the next step.
Most stable patio dining tables will work just as well for your workstation. Coffee tables can work for a short period of time, but they can wreak havoc on your back.
A well cushioned outdoor chair can work similarly to the typical office chair, but you can make things way more relaxing with a zero-gravity lounger.
There should also be some thought given to privacy and noise.
No one wants their Zoom meeting interrupted by the school bus disgorging half a dozen rambunctious teens, or a confidential telephone conversation overheard by your neighbors. Screening can be accomplished with large patio pots filled with leafy plants such as palms, large-leafed ficus or ferns. Latticing covered by flowering annual or perennial vines also creates some privacy, as well as sometimes offering the opportunity to watch butterflies during work.
Finally, a fence, privacy screen, or other hardscaping could be erected as a barrier against outside interference.
Time To Get Growing
The last detail in constructing an outdoor workspace – and the fun part – is plant selection.
The outdoor office garden can offer a lot more than just visual appeal. Fragrant blooms and herbs yield aromatherapy benefits as well as colour and texture.
Vines render privacy and additional protection from the sun, large foliage plants can create a tropical ambience, and a small fountain or other water feature that burbles gently can create just the right amount of white noise to help with focus and eliminate outside distractions.
Working from home doesn’t have to feel like being imprisoned.
Turning a porch, patio, gazebo or pergola into an office is liberating to the mind, body and soul. The outdoor office just may be the productivity hack you need.
Want help creating your outdoor office oasis? Get in touch with The Garden Men today!