Working from home can be fulfilling and productive, particularly if you have dedicated space to use as your home office. When the weather’s nice, there’s no reason that you can’t turn this space into a great backyard office.
There are plenty of reasons to utilize your outdoor space for work. For example, if you don’t have enough room inside, try converting a shed into an outdoor office that gets you out of the house with a super short commute. Need a change of scenery? Grab your laptop and head to your backyard office. It’s easier than you may think.
Choose the Right Backyard Office Spot
Comfort matters both indoors and outside. When you’re shifting to an outdoor office, it’s important to remember that any spot may be sufficient, but not every area is ideal. Even if you plan to move around and switch to your backyard office occasionally, it’s crucial to choose the right spot. Working from home is challenging enough without the glare from direct sunlight and discomfort of extreme heat, two factors that could force you to lose productivity.
Look for shady areas like a covered porch, under a canopy, or beneath a tree. You’ll feel anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees cooler because you’ll be avoiding the sun’s rays. You’ll also benefit from minimal glare, which makes it easier to see what you’re doing while reducing eye strain. If you’re working on a laptop, direct sunlight can be damaging, particularly over time. A great solution is an adjustable umbrella, which can provide portable coverage in addition to the flexibility of changing the angle to best block the sun.
During the height of summer heat, you may need to restrict your hours in your outdoor office to mornings and evenings. Not only will the cooler temperatures make you feel more comfortable, but they’ll also be better for your gear. Most laptop manufacturers recommend operating in temperatures no higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flex Your Way to a Backyard Office
If you don’t have a space that you can dedicate as a permanent backyard office, you’ll need to have furniture that offers flexibility and portability. This way you can easily bring pieces outside when you’re ready to get to work and back indoors when you’re finished working in your outdoor office. The power of furniture flexibility™ can’t be understated because you’ll need a way to make the indoor-outdoor transition easy and efficient.
Patio furniture can be a great addition to an outdoor office, but you might need to add a little lumbar support or a laptop stand to achieve the comfort you need. But if you don’t have patio furniture, you could use portable furniture that’s easy to move around and bring back inside to protect it from the elements. That could be as simple as a comfortable folding chair and a folding tray table, or as office-minded as a lightweight ergonomic chair and a portable computer desk.
A serving tray can help you lug your supplies from point A to point B without having to make multiple trips. Have a laptop bag packed with things like a portable power station to charge your electronics as needed, a microfiber cloth to keep your screen clean and clear, an anti-glare screen cover to give your eyes a break, and comfort essentials like tissues so you don’t have to run inside too often.
Create a Front Porch Office
Front porches, back porches, and balconies provide useful outdoor square footage that’s good for more than just relaxing. They could offer an ideal space to use as an outdoor office, particularly if the space provides ample shade throughout the day. If you live in an area with lots of foot traffic, add privacy to the porch using screens, room dividers, or curtains to make it easier to concentrate while you’re working from home on your porch.
How you set up your porch depends on the space available. If you’ve got the square footage, add a desk or table and a good chair that is rated for outdoor use, which will let you keep your office set up on a more permanent basis. Smaller spaces can still work well, but you may need to get a little more creative by hanging a shelf from the porch rail or the exterior of your home to use as a minimalist-inspired desk. A folding table can work well too in a pinch. Evaluate the space and then fill it accordingly, keeping your personal style and comfort in mind so that you can rest easy with furniture that doesn’t own you.™
Don’t forget to add a few comfort-minded extras to dress up your porch and add to the ambiance of your outdoor office. A rug can protect your porch floor from scuffs while adding extra color and texture. Throw pillows and cushions look nice, but they can also go a long way in keeping you more comfortable while you work.
Transform Your Shed
An unused shed, new shed, or even a playhouse could be transformed into a dedicated, permanent backyard office. To convert an outdoor structure into your office, start by sealing up cracks and crevices and adding insulation and drywall to the walls if you plan to continue working there during the cool weather or you want to achieve a more room-like look. From there, consider the following:
- Add electricity: A few well-placed outlets will keep your electronics charged and the lights on. Plus, they’ll make it easier to add air conditioning or heating if you want to.
- Upgrade the lighting: Lighting is a huge part of an ergonomic workspace. It reduces eye strain and can boost your mood, making you healthier and more productive. Ideally, add a combination of ambient light, which includes natural light and the lighting you get from overhead fixtures, and task lighting, for better reading capabilities.
- Consider extras: If you have space, add accessories to enhance the comfort of your space. For example, a plush chair or settee adds a homey touch while giving you a comfortable spot to brainstorm your next idea, review reports, or read.
- Don’t forget storage: Whether you transform shelving already in the shed or add a bookcase, it’s essential to include some storage in your design plan to keep your office tidy and your workflow productive.
Tips for Outdoor Office Comfort
Setting realistic expectations for your outdoor work is the key to minimizing frustration. On sunny, hot, humid days, you might be limited to working indoors or staying outside just for an hour or two for a change of scenery. It’s equally important to plan ahead for possible interruptions, distractions, and discomforts that can derail your plans. That underlines the importance of prioritizing the comfort of your backyard office. You’re much more likely to make good use of the space you just set up if you like working in it. To stay comfortable and productive, follow these tips:
- Keep sunscreen and insect repellent close at hand to protect yourself from the sun’s rays and insect’s itchy ways.
- Add background noise to diminish distractions. A portable speaker for music or a water feature could strike just the right notes to drown out traffic and other outdoor sounds. Noise-canceling headphones could help too.
- Set up a fan to provide white noise while adding to your comfort. As a bonus, the moving air will help keep bugs away.
- Include plants in your floor plan to add extra cheer while you work and provide an attractive backdrop for your virtual conference calls.
Working from home is great, but having a plan to escape to the great outdoors can help keep you from feeling cooped up. Likewise, keeping that plan flexible helps prevent you from hassle and inconvenience if you return to a traditional office setting or simply want to change things up. Convenience, style, and selection — that’s just the start of what CORT has to offer. Own your life. Not your furniture.™