The Outdoor Office: An Emerging Business Concept

by | Nov 27, 2009

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outdoor officeEco-culture stepped into the corporate playing field as soon as business started realizing the money saving and PR benefits of going green. Since then a whole new mindset has been adopted in corporate culture.

In a business culture war where brand identity and employee loyalty are key to survival and growth, businesses are now realizing the value of another commodity – their employees.

Merging eco-awareness with employee satisfaction, more and more business are redefining their corporate culture. Stepping away from galley ship set ups like those artfully played out in Monty Python’s The Crimson Permanent Assurance, employers are now recognizing that an unhappy stressed out employee means smaller profit margins.

Nivea also took advantage of the outdoor office shift, and London’s willingness to host them, by offering the oxygen powered office space. Available through bookings, Nivea offered space with a reception area, three meeting areas, two work stations, with Wifi, coffee, plasma screens, and a beauty area hosting Nivea products that serves a place for employees to freshen up.

The move is not only of a benefit to businesses sponsoring the event, who gain exposure and publicity, but is also proving to be a creative outlet for companies who want to encourage out of the box thinking.

But businesses aren’t the only groups who are realizing the benefit of outdoor workspaces. The City of London transformed St James’s Park into an outdoor office space for two days, from July 3 to 4. The park provided free Wi-Fi, a boardroom, a breakout room, 12 desk clusters, and a receptionist.

An outdoor workspace was also the creative inspiration for Selgas Cano Architects in Madrid, Spain, photographed by Iwan Baan. Selgas Cano took the outdoor office to the next level by looking toward long term harmonization merging indoor and outdoor spaces.

The design boasts effective use of space, employing a sleek tube-like structure sunken into the ground. The long window curving along the wall and toward the ceiling creates an open space that not only lets in natural light but also fosters a synchronicity between the indoors and outdoors.

The sinking foundation is also a classic design strategy that improves building insulation, requiring less energy to heat the interior. The interior color scheme is also reflective of natural greens and yellows found outdoors, making the shift between indoor and outdoor seamless.

Shifting to an Outdoor Work Space

Fortunately, you don’t need to live in London, work in Spain, or rely on locally set up corporate sponsorships to get a feel for the outdoor office. Depending on where you are, you can easily set up shop in your own backyard or patio.

There are dozens of options for outdoor offices, such as turning your shed into a detached office space, or using your deck or sunroom as an office extension. Whatever you decide, there are certain things you should consider when setting up your new space

• Weather: If you’re in colder climates, consider investing in a portable table top patio heater. Patio heaters come in all sizes and styles, from freestanding patio heaters, including portable patio heaters, mounted, table top, electric, propane and natural gas heaters. Getting a patio heater makes the idea of an outdoor office a practical option.

• Electricity: if you’re a die-hard tech junkie and consider your laptop your ultimate life line, then you’re likely going to need to create a space that has access to an outlet. Set up shop in a spot that allows you to use an extension cord to source an outside outlet or trek one back indoors through a window.

• Coverage: Having some sort of roofing or canopy is critical to an effective work space for two main reasons. 1) It protects you from the weather and 2) It helps deflect excess light away, which is particularly important if you’re an avid laptop user. Canopies can also be purchased and readily assembled from most retail chains.

• Furniture – Your outdoor furniture should be practical. Try going for easy-to-clean glass surfaces that don’t face rust and corrosion problems. For furniture, depending on whether you have a functional canopy, try using furniture with upholstery that is easily cleaned or weather resistant. Often, even a great outdoor patio chair will do the trick.

Ultimately, the goal of an outdoor office is to merge design with functionality. These are just some ideas to get you started.

“The Outdoor Office” was written by Heater-Home, which also is on Twitter @HeaterHome.

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