Not only did two years of the pandemic change our way of life; it also totally recalibrated our working habits, preferences and styles.
Are you still working from home?
I am; many still are. And many more surveys are saying that remote work is here to stay.
COVID accelerated this working status and environment. While some complained, many more adjusted. And today, a fully-remote or hybrid work setup is the way to go.
However, while we’re fully in tune with this setup already, it doesn’t alleviate the fact that no delineating line between work and home can be tiring. Not to mention it may take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing.
Therefore, another new term spun out from it — today, a new trend of working from outdoors (WFO) is the new WFH. How exciting.
Photo source: TODAY
Staying indoors, at your usual WFH spot, maybe be torture when you see welcoming sun and friendly weather outside. Also, by breaking the monotony and regularity of everyday work life, trying this WFO trend could be an effective way to re-energize and motivate you for your 9-to-5 again. After all, several studies have shown how spending time in nature can be one of the most effective catalysts to creative ideas.
Imagine working from your balcony, backyard, or patio and smelling the flowers, feeling the warm breeze and hearing the birds sing. Now, isn’t that lovely? This idea should be enough to make you want to start this setup ASAP!
But then, putting together your WFO space isn’t without its challenges. You have to be ready for sudden changes and sometimes, uncomfortable weather, and to make it conducive for long-working hours and zoom meetings. As such, we’ve come up with a dozen ideas to help you set this up for the win.
Photo source: Summer House Patio
1. Separate work and play
Like any WFH space indoors, you’ll have to designate a specific space for your WFO. If your backyard, balcony, or patio is a mix for play and family gatherings, select a small area to transform into a space where you can work. Try elevating an area to delineate it from the rest. Or for more privacy, use decorative screens or planters to create that dividing line.
Photo source: MyDomaine
2. Take cover
Working outside for hours on end is not always easy especially at the height of summer and during the hottest times of the day. Apart from making it quite uncomfortable, not to mention harmful, the sun’s glare also makes it impossible to see your computer screen, no matter which angle you fix it at.
Easiest way to get some shade is by using large adjustable umbrellas. For something more long-term and decorative, install a pergola or trellises on top of your seating area; this would look very eye-catching if you plant climbing vines and flowers on it. And of course, wear sunscreen and maybe a pretty brimmed hat or cap for extra protection. Then, as you protect yourself from UV rays, you can probably put a cute little umbrella or shade for your laptop too to remove glare.
Photo source: Better Homes and Gardens
3. Keep it cool
On top of taking cover, don’t just depend on the breeze to keep cool. Install some ceiling fans or mist fans to keep it comfortable especially around lunch time. There are different designs for ceiling fans that could serve as additional visual interest in your covered patio or lanai.
Photo source: houzz
4. Comfort is still priority
No matter where your WFH space is, comfort should be your top priority. Make sure you have comfortable seating that doesn’t hurt your back, maybe something more upright, when you’re there for hours.
A good surface work desk is also essential – ideally your outdoor dining table could work for this purpose. Also, do this clever move and have seating that faces different angles so you can move around as the sun moves. Avoid the monotony of staying in one attitude for hours too.
On top of seating, you’ll also have to bear in mind insects outdoors – fans can repel mosquitoes and other annoying bugs. If you want to be doubly sure, use some insect repellant or other plants and scents that drive them away, like citronella.
Photo source: homedit
5. Cozy it up
While you’re deciding on your seating arrangement and style, don’t forget to add cushions to warm up the space and make it more welcoming. Maybe add in a throw too just in case it becomes chilly at night. Oh, and remember to add an outdoor rug. You’ll want your WFO space to be welcoming and motivating to feel excited about your 9-to-5 again.
Photo source: Real Simple
6. Outdoor-friendly furniture
Another rule of thumb when decorating any outdoor space is to be conscious of the materials you use. They should be outdoor-friendly.
Some easy choices for outdoor furniture are resin wicker (or synthetic rattan), wood options like teak, cypress, or cedar with an added layer of waterproof sealer, water hyacinth, plastic or wrought iron. Some backyard or balcony setups also use water repellent furniture covers to protect from sun and rain.
Photo source: PureWow
7. Multi-purpose pieces
It’ll be challenging to totally refurbish your current outdoor spaces just to make way for your WFO area. Therefore, opt for multi-purpose pieces you also use during outdoor gatherings – like that dining table we mentioned above. Another option is to use garden tools as small side tables for a cup of coffee or tea, a notepad and pen. This is ideal for smaller outdoor areas.
Photo source: Curbly
8. Staying connected
Next, this point is crucial. If you’re really planning to move your workstation outdoors, make sure to stay connected so it doesn’t feel like you’re vying for Wi-Fi every 15 minutes. Have a portable Wi-Fi in your outdoor space or boost your home’s connection and ensure enough bandwidth for all your video conferences. Also, get an outdoor extension cord to power your laptop.
Photo source: Peter Barry Surveyors
9. Plan for sudden weather change
When you’re all set and comfortable, you wouldn’t want to let the weather mess it all up. You’re ready with your cushions and throws when the weather turns chilly. But you’ll also want to plan for sudden gusts of wind and drizzles. Make sure materials for your outdoor mobile office are easy to carry in and out.
Use a paperweight – any rock from your garden really – to put on top of your papers. Have folders or sleeves where you can quickly tuck in all the documents and dash indoors in the event of sudden downpours. Your WFO should be portable.
Photo source: CNN
10. Decorate with plants
Yes, you’re already outdoors and nature is all around you but having a small table plant will still brighten up your workplace. If you’re intentional with your plants and feel the need to decorate your WFO with more than just simple grass, you’ll make it that much more inviting and invigorating. Not to mention that caring for these plants will help reduce stress and anxiety while looking at nature keeps you motivated and creative.
Photo source: Green Wedding Shoes
11. Remember refreshments
As you work on that spot for hours and hours, nature won’t be enough to make you forget hunger and thirst. Get a cute, large coffee mug and bring it outside with you as a little perk-me-up company. If that’s not enough and you don’t want to keep on going inside for a glass of water or juice, then invest in a mini bar cart to bring outside.
This way, you’ll have all the drinks you need. Even add in a coffee maker for easy access. Who said you have to limit bar carts to drinks? Bring out some snacks too! But don’t over indulge yourself otherwise, those goodies might just give you food coma instead of keeping you energized!
Photo source: Omysa
12. Take it all the way with garden pods
If you’re really invested in making more of your outdoor WFH space and large backyard, then go all out and make a garden pod! There’s no need for planning permission and neither will you need to create a foundation for your pod making it very easy to build.
Best yet, this doesn’t have to be limited to just your WFO space. You can turn it into a hangout spot with friends and family for some outdoor dining time, turn it into a hobby room, or simply a small spot to take a break in nature.
Photo source: Treehugger