How to create the perfect outdoor workspace

Whether you’ve been working from home for decades or this is your first go-round, working at home during warm weather months brings with it a specific set of challenges.

We’ve pulled together some tips to help you figure out how to expand your workspace outdoors if possible. And in case you don’t have a backyard or random green space (raises my hand) we also came up with some easy ways to make your home office feel more spring or summer-ready.

Separate your relaxation space from your workspace: Segueing from an office environment isn’t seamless for some folks. “I think a lot of people didn’t have a home office setup ready to go when they found themselves suddenly needing to work from home – I know I didn’t,” shared Sean Valencourt, EVP Information Systems at outdoor furniture brand POLYWOOD. Valencourt admits that he found himself “working from the kitchen table or, even worse, the couch.” And that became troublesome to him since “where home used to be my place to relax when I came back from work, now it needs to serve double-duty.”

If you find yourself feeling trapped in an apartment or spare room that doubles as an office, consider setting up something as simple as a room divider that can help you section off the space, you’ll be working in. Even if that space happens to be on the patio. Creating a visual reminder of your workspace vs. your hanging out space also allows you to better shut off at the end of the day.

Shed ahead: If you have some extra room in your yard (and have a yard!) setting up a shed might be helpful. Colorado-based Studio Shed reports that in families of first responders have been setting up sheds for their loved ones to stay in throughout the pandemic to minimize risk to the rest of their family. Even more interesting, Studio Shed reported a large spike in inquiries for their backyard home offices over the past few weeks.

Fake a garden with indoor plants: No outdoor space at all? Me neither. But I still love the idea of trying to create a working escape from the work at home routine. Joyce Mast, Bloomscape’s Plant Mom has over 40 years’ experience as a horticulturist. Mast commiserates about how hard it is not to feel sorry for yourself when “everywhere you look there are beautiful images of lush gardens and people enjoying their yards, while you are stuck inside with a fire escape pretending to be a patio.”

Mast offered some tips to transform your apartment into a lush space.

Choose plants for the light you have, not the light you wish you had: Mast says to “Choose plants that will adapt and thrive in the light that’s available in your space. In case you don’t get a full day of sunlight.” Low light, newbie-friendly plants include
Parlor Palm, Philodendron Heartleaf, Sansevieria, Dracaena Dorado, and Dracaena Limelight: are all great choices.

Group plants together: To make your space look lusher, Mast recommends grouping several plants of varying sizes on a table, or placing a collection of small plants on a windowsill. This is also a great environment to add humidity to your plants.

Utilize vertical space: If you’re running out of the table or floor space, Mast said to “add some vertical interest by installing shelves and placing some vining houseplants and small upright plants next to your books and trinkets.” If you’re looking to create a green space indoors, Mast said “Ceilings, walls, tops of cabinets, bookshelves, and desktops can serve as perfect spots for houseplants. Use macramé hangers or try a few plant hangers with a flat side that can be used along a wall next to your pictures. Trailing plants such as a Lemon Lime Philodendron,  Silver Satin Pothos, Philodendron Brasil, and Tradescantia Zebrina are just a few of the plants which perfect for hangers and the tops of shelves because they naturally “spill” and trail as they grow.”

And the benefits of adding plants aren’t simply aesthetic. “The health benefits of indoor plants are numerous, from improved cognitive function and creativity to stress reduction.” Mast said. Plants improve our mental outlook by providing gezellig (a Dutch word meaning a feeling of coziness, comfort, and relaxation) and give us a sense of wellbeing.”

Not sure that you’re up to setting up an indoor green area? Minted has some leafy prints that add the illusion of trees and plants with no need to add water.

Set a scene: Most of us are stuck home for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take tiny virtual escapes. Otherland offers stunning candle collections with unique, transportive scent combinations—think notes like lilac, ginger, and California fig—for a quick, at-home escape. And you can play around with your lighting too to set up work time or relaxing time routines. GE Lighting has some great smart bulbs that can be used to create an outdoor vibe indoors.

Revamp your tech: From lighter laptops to waterproof accessories, now is a good time to update your tech so that you can easily maneuver it between inside and your outdoor office. But don’t rush to buy something until you’ve had time to research the best deals. For instance, several Microsoft Surface devices will be on sale through Labor Day at all retailers including Microsoft Store, Amazon, Best Buy, and more.