Your Official Guide to Working Outside
In a time when most people spend about 90% of their days inside, the call of the wild might be going straight to voicemail. The outdoors looks pretty enough from your window (that is, of course, if you have a window with a view at all). But it feels like you can never get to enjoy the beautiful weather as it happens or take a breath of fresh air on a cool day. Why not pick up all your tech and work outside?
You’ve been told how much sitting at your desk all day can give you back pain, neck pain, eye strain, and burnout. But you’ve never known an alternative. However, experimenting with working outside has an untold number of benefits, from easing your mind to restoring your body.
Fewer sick days
Research shows that having a view of some greenery can cause employees to take fewer sick days. In fact, workers with views of trees or landscapes took, on average, 57 sick days per year, whereas those who didn’t have a view took 68 hours of sick leave. While it’s not a guarantee that working inside without a view will make you sick, being stuck in a cubicle without a view could mean that you’re used to a particularly sedentary lifestyle where you’re surrounded by screens most of the day (which negatively impacts one’s health.)
Another great feature about working outdoors is that it increases productivity. Whether it’s a green space in an office or a big window overlooking a park, attention and performance are positively impacted when humans have a small connection to nature. “Nature deprivation,” caused by too much time looking at screens, can decrease your overall well-being and cause feelings of isolation, restlessness, and decreased concentration. So even the smallest bit of nature in your day can make a big difference.
Having a little sunlight and nature in your workday can ultimately reduce stress. It can work on a physiological level by lowering blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone) while also enhancing your immune system. But it can also work on a psychological level, as it can make you feel calm, connected, and composed, even in the face of a heavy workload. The chatter of other people in your office is replaced by bikers and runners exercising to a soundtrack of rustling wind, and visuals of messy desks or cluttered home offices fall away.
Believe it or not, nature can help you regain focus as well. Studies show that even a view of a bit of greenery from your window can aid mental stamina and be a grounding force to fix inattentiveness. Nature can ease brain fatigue by capturing what neuroscientists call your involuntary attention, meaning the view in your periphery. As a kind of visual meditation, when your brain is filled with calming pastoral images, you’re able to think clearer.
Tips for working outside
Working outside can be simplified once you figure out what you value in a workspace and how accessible it is for you. Some like the sun and others like the shade, some like access to creature comforts like outlets and air conditioning, and others can rough it in the wilderness with just a laptop. And if you don’t have access to the great outdoors, read on for some tips about how to get the same benefits from your indoor space.
Find a coworking space
The easiest way to find a great outdoor workspace that has all the amenities of an office is to look for a coworking space. If you’re in a major city like Austin, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, there are plenty of options for outdoor spaces with sun coverage, a strong internet signal, and maybe even some free coffee.
Keep it in your own backyard
Next, if you have a backyard, then congratulations – you’ve got your own private outdoor office! Whereas working indoors from your bedroom or a communal space might invite roommates or family members to interrupt you, an outdoor office gives you a little room to breathe. If your WiFi isn’t great, you can have meetings indoors and do your personal work outdoors.
Go to the park
While it might not be the most convenient option, you could always grab a picnic blanket, some snacks, and your laptop. Then, head to a public park to work. Make sure your computer is charged, as you won’t have any outlets to use – but you will have plenty of WiFi. Check out this list of public parks with WiFi around America. You also can work in a park nearby your home if there are public WiFi hotspots, which you can research in advance online. Just remember your SPF, as you don’t need to get a sunburn to get rid of your burnout.
Try an outdoor coffee shop
Next, if you’re not near a park or a coworking space, locate a coffee shop with some outdoor seating and stay there for a couple of hours. You’ll have a comfortable seat, a tasty beverage, easy access to bathrooms, and the great outdoors. It might even be an excellent opportunity to network and meet someone who’s also working there.
Bring the outdoors to you
If working outdoors isn’t possible for you, be resourceful, and bring the outdoors in. Try putting a couple of plants in your home office, taking intentional breaks outside, or moving your desk for a better view out your window. Studies show that even the smallest amount of greenery in your line of sight can make you feel a little calmer and focused.
Working outside might seem like an undertaking, but it can be invigorating and inspiring if it’s done right. A change of scenery can hugely benefit your productivity, well-being, and overall happiness. And these days, it’s not difficult to find seating, amenities, or internet access to help your journey along. So get yourself a glare-proof screen cover, an external charger, and a pair of sunglasses, and give it a try.