Your next office may actually be outside

With workplaces remaining in limbo due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor work areas could be on the rise as companies look to create some form of office life in a more comfortable and social-distanced way.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least six-feet between people, it’s considerably different to imagine how this will be implemented in an office setting especially when space can be limited.

While offices will make changes in order to accommodate safety during the pandemic, some companies have elected to forgo office space as remote working continues to yield steady production that matches in-office production, and in some cases, even exceeds it.

But there’s still a longing for the physical interaction of the workplace; Zoom and other workplace applications don’t exactly cut it, which has companies thinking outside the office.

As in, outside.

Whether it’s for meetings or small gatherings of workers, outdoor working space could be on the rise as companies look to integrate some form of normalcy back into the workday.

Steelcase, a company that specializes in office furniture and interior architecture solution for office space, offered a few tips on how companies can get the most out of outdoor spaces that can double for productive work meetings and instill some much-needed human interaction in a safe and fun way.

“People love to be outside for all kinds of reasons, but often the spaces at work are designed for social interactions, like having lunch outside, or respite,” said Steelcase applications design manager Mary Elaine Roush. “But it’s possible to create productive outdoor workspaces where people can benefit creatively and feel safe.”

From seating designed help posture to even decorative touches, the office doesn’t have to be limited to the office. Here are a few tips that Steelcase recommends when taking your office outside:

Use flexible furniture pieces: Things like small ottomans or stools can create more space and can be easily moved. It’ll allow more people to join a meeting while maintaining distance.

Invest in seating: Forget lawnchairs; workers need to be comfortable. Find seating that can help support posture.

Create boundaries: Workers are going to want space. Set up frindly barriers like parasols or planters.

Heat: If you’re planning outdoor meetings in the fall and winter, portable heaters or fireplaces offer an option to continue meetings.

Bring plugs: Outdoor power stations are a must. Furniture should be positioned near outlets in order to keep everyone plugged in and fully charged.

Floor decor: Rugs and floor patterns can help with wayfinding and communicate appropriate ciruclation paths.

Take the office outside: Mobile whiteboards, carts, et al. It’ll provide workers with tools from the physical office. Also, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer too.

A little shade: Sun can be a problem, especially for seeing a computer screen. Find shaded areas under trees or bring umbrellas.