Blog #015: Creating Functional Outdoor Workspaces

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The average person spends 92% of their time indoors on a weekly basis, a large proportion of which is in work.

Although there’s lots of consideration now being paid to workspaces, outdoor space is often overlooked. Despite this, there is research that shows being outside has a positive impact on creative thinking. In addition, it has been proven that being outdoors also has a positive effect on social wellbeing, physical and mental restoration. When employees can take a break from their work by getting some fresh air and having a brief change of scenery, it increases their productivity.

Clearly there is a need for outside space, integral to the workplace environment where staff can get some fresh air and relax. So why hasn’t the same attention been paid to spaces outside office buildings?

Only recently has the trend toward open and flexible office plans gained in traction. This also ties in with the awareness of a need for a better integration of work and social space. As our understanding on the benefits that social spaces present to the workforce, this is being reflected in workplace design, both inside and now it is beginning to influence outdoor spaces. The division between indoors and outdoors is also breaking down, so we’re seeing a blurring of the lines between both types of space.

Outside spaces provide plenty of scope for creativity and greater freedom for informal settings compared to internal spaces. They also need to be comfortable, productive and usable, with consideration given to shade, wind, temperature and glare.

Whatever the space, from roof gardens to terraces and courtyards, think about the purpose of the space. Are you encouraging people to use the space for work or socialising? If people are able to work there, then seating and tables need to allow for productive and uninterrupted working.

As we’ve discussed, the value of being able to offer outdoor office space is very important. Not only does it create and support an open and relaxed culture of co-working and collaboration, it also has a positive effect in terms of wellbeing and productivity. That said, there are also some downsides to outdoor working. The main concern of course, being weather related. In the UK, our wonderful, varied weather means that working outside isn’t always practical. Similarly, sunny weather can also be a bit of a distraction especially if the working space seems too recreational, so the design does need to motivate people to work.

Take a look at the examples below to inspire your own outdoor workspaces.

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If you’re interested in creating an inspiring and productive space outside for your team to work and relax in, talk to us to find out how we can help.