While there are a lot of ideas for corporate office interior design, more and more companies are also exploring the idea of utilizing exterior space. Increasingly, companies of all kinds are expanding to take advantage of outdoor spaces in terms of how to design an office. Outdoor areas used to be spaces of transition and travel where employees come and go from the office, have lunch, or take a break.

But these days, more and more office space designs are enhancing work areas with outdoor spaces like patios, courtyards, verandas, garden space, studio shed, terrace, roof, and other types of exterior space that make it possible to work outside.

There are several reasons behind this trend. The health and safety of employees are at the top of the list, as outdoor spaces are better ventilated than indoor ones and can help prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. Improving productivity is another, as research indicates access to nature can relieve stress and make work more enjoyable for employees.1

Fortunately, it isn’t complicated to turn outdoor areas into functional office spaces. Here are six outside office ideas to get you started.

#1 Keep the Climate in Mind

A welcoming outdoor office space can provide employees with the opportunity to break free of the indoor environment and complete their work in a setting that’s a little more stimulating. By shifting their workstations outdoors, workers can benefit from a change of scenery and fresh air, and therefore boost office productivity. But no matter where you live, outdoor conditions can be unpredictable—which is why it’s important to consider your climate when designing the space.

The outdoors comes with a few design challenges, but they’re easy to overcome if you choose outside furniture and accessories that make the outdoor office space just as comfortable as inside. When you’re designing the space, you need to account for weather elements like:

  • Precipitation –Wet weather conditions can get in the way of working outside. To keep your furniture and employees dry, consider solutions like waterproof furniture and accessories, as well as canopies and other shelter structures.

  • Sun –From uncomfortable heat to glares that make it difficult to see digital screens, your outdoor office space needs to be prepared to manage sunlight. You can achieve this by designing with natural and manmade elements that minimize sun exposure. Trees that block sunlight are a good way to go. Canopies, open-air pavilions, and other structures that provide overhead coverage are also important.

  • Wind –Windscreens, trees, and outdoor walls are ways to keep the wind from rustling papers or providing other distractions outside.

  • When you design outdoor spaces with the weather in mind, you can guarantee the outdoor office is safe, functional, and productive.

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    #2 Choose the Right Furniture

    The furniture in your outdoor office space is equally as important as the furniture inside. You want your employees to be comfortable, alert, and well-accommodated. That means decorating your outdoor area with functional furniture that’s equipped with features that make outdoor working feasible.

    Comfort and safety are crucial here. If your outdoor office furniture is designed to be physically accommodating, your employees may be more likely to be productive and focused, even outside. Additionally, you can protect your employees’ long-term health by ensuring that the furniture in your outside office is ergonomically sound.

    It’s also important to use furniture that meets the needs of the 21st-century office. Your outdoor tables and other fixtures should be equipped with modern-day conveniences that allow your employees to access all the technology and other utilities they use inside.

    For that reason, no outdoor office space is complete without the following items:

  • Tech-friendly furniture –Outdoor office furniture should feature access to electricity so that your employees can charge their electronic devices. Tables that offer device charging are an excellent solution. Consider choosing furniture that uses solar panels to channel energy from the sun into power employees can use to stay connected.

  • Charging stations –Poles and kiosks with USB ports and electrical outlets can provide ready sources of electricity for the outdoor office space.

  • Weather-resistant furniture –Even if outdoor furniture doesn’t provide access to electricity, it should be weather-resistant. This ensures that tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture can withstand outdoor elements and last longer.

  • #3 Let There Be Light

    One of the biggest benefits of outdoor office spaces is that they expose employees to ample sources of natural lighting. According to studies, natural lighting is a boon to worker productivity. In fact, natural light could increase the productivity of your office by up to 40%.1

    That said, your outdoor office space should also offer a good amount of artificial light for those times when the sun isn’t quite enough. Be sure to install artificial lighting to illuminate the area during darker work hours, such as mornings and overcast afternoons.

    #4 Minimize Distractions

    Outdoor office spaces provide a change of scenery that could spark your employees’ imagination and refresh their minds. You can make the outdoor office even more successful by reducing the occurrence of distractions from insects and other factors.

    There are a few ways you can prevent bugs, birds, and other animals from distracting your employees while they’re working in the outdoor office. Fences and enclosures can keep larger animals away, while overhead structures can provide barriers that prevent birds from swooping in and causing disturbances.

    Additionally, you can turn to natural remedies to keep bugs and wildlife out of your outdoor office space. For example, you can design using the best office colors that are natural repellents for the most common outdoor critters.2 When designing, keep the following in mind:

    • Colors like black, white, and yellow are known to repel birds
    • Insects tend to avoid colors like blue and green
    • Avoid colors like orange, red, and black to keep mosquitoes away

    #5 Make Sure Your Outdoor Office is Easy to Access

    Accessibility is an important consideration whether your office is inside or out. Although the outdoor office area may be separate from your inside space, you should make it easy for your employees to move between the two. This can ensure that the outdoor office is convenient and practical while also keeping your employees nearby.

    If your outdoor office space is located near the building, your employees can have access to the great outdoors without traveling more than a few yards. Patios and verandas are an excellent solution, bringing the outside within steps of the inside and offering quick and convenient access.

    Of course, it’s also important that the outdoor space meets accessibility requirements that make them available to all members of your team. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, work areas need to be equally accessible to every employee, regardless of their level of mobility.3 That includes outdoor spaces.

    To create an outdoor office space that’s comfortable for everyone, be sure to make accommodations for people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility requirements. It’s important to pay special attention to the following areas:

    • Access points
    • Walkways
    • Seating

    #6 It’s Not All About Work

    Shifting work between inside and outside can refresh your employees, but your outdoor areas should provide more than a place to do more work. They should also offer employees the chance to relax, unwind, and take a break from thinking about the job.

    Studies show that encouraging regular breaks is essential if you want to maximize employee performance.4 They can also improve the physical and mental health of your employees and make the office a place they enjoy being. For that reason, it’s just as important that your outdoor space is built for fun as well as work.

    Furthermore, making it easy for your employees to relax and socialize with one another may have positive effects on your office environment. When employees feel connected to one another, they tend to be more productive, satisfied, and successful.5

    There are many ways to accomplish this. The following are just a few top ideas:

  • Dividing areas –Separating areas work and collaborative areas from break and recreation areas could make your outdoor office space more conducive to both work and play. Doing so can be as simple as building an outdoor wall or using landscaping features like trees, bushes, and hedges to delineate work zones.

  • Prioritize break areas –Because breaks are so important, be sure not to skimp on amping up the spaces where your employees take a few minutes off from work. Even outside, these areas should include comfortable furniture and relaxing surroundings. You can include vending machines or outdoor coffee bars for easy access to snacks and drinks, or contract with local food trucks to enhance the lunch hour.

  • Include recreation options – You can enhance your outdoor area by equipping it with options for fun during downtime. Consider features like basketball courts, bocce ball courts, ping pong tables, and other recreational equipment that encourages socialization and conversation.

  • Additionally, you can maximize outdoor spaces by including features that make it possible to host outdoor events. For example, stages and amphitheaters provide space for outdoor meetings and seminars that educate and inform employees or live entertainment that may increase their job satisfaction.

    Take Your Office Outside with Juniper Office

    When you’re designing any kind of office space, it’s helpful to have knowledgeable experts who understand how to maximize work spaces for optimal productivity and appeal. Juniper Office brings more than 100 years worth of experience to the table, helping you design an office that exceeds your expectations and works for everyone.

    When you connect with Juniper, you gain access to free design services that make planning your indoor or outdoor office space simple and enjoyable. Then, you can fill it with our quality office furniture offerings, like desks, chairs, conference tables, and more.

    Are you ready to create a welcome outdoor office space? Contact Juniper today.


    Sources:

    1. PR Newswire. Study: Natural Light Is the Best Medicine for the Office. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-natural-light-is-the-best-medicine-for-the-office-300590905.html#
    2. Five Star Painting. Color: A Better Outdoor Bird and Bug Repellent. https://www.fivestarpainting.com/blog/2019/may/color-a-better-outdoor-bird-and-bug-repellent/
    3. OCWR. ADA Office Checklist: Is Your Office Accessible? https://www.ocwr.gov/publications/fast-facts/ada-office-checklist/
    4. Metro Manhattan. Outdoor Space, the Most Sought-After Office Amenity Post-Pandemic. https://www.metro-manhattan.com/blog/outdoor-space-the-most-sought-after-office-amenity-post-pandemic/
    5. Forbes. Why Leaders Should Encourage Socializing in the Workplace. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/03/30/why-leaders-should-encourage-socializing-in-the-workplace/?sh=573a45df45cb