Working from home has been one of the most transformative things of the last year, with many planning to continue working from home even after restrictions have lifted. Those lucky enough to have a garden will know the benefits of having a garden home office, simply as a place to escape the four walls of home. But there are ways to work outdoors without building a dedicated garden room.
‘Separating work life from home life is key for our wellbeing – our brains need boundaries’ explains Interior Design Psychology Expert, Niki Schafer.
‘Whether we love it or hate it, the commute used to enforce this separation and provided some time to let one world fade and another one to remerge. A commute to the bottom of the garden isn’t quite the same but it’s better than picking up the laptop in the kitchen or worse still, in bed.’
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Expert tips on creating a workspace in your garden
1. Let the light inspire
‘Natural light is fundamental to our health and we want to feel our best when we work’ explains Niki Schafer Interior Designer. ‘Being in nature is very positive for our minds and productivity. Working in the garden and having a sense of the seasons and the changes in nature will have a calming influence on our stress levels and benefit our work life enormously.’
When working in a garden room, it’s important to look for a view out. ‘Position your desk so you can see out of the window or door. Firstly it’s disconcerting to have your back to the door – especially if someone arrives unexpectedly. Also a good view out of the window should be inspiring.’
2. Consider an alternative streaming service
Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director at Dobbies, suggests streaming, but not as we know it in the modern world of Netflix. ‘Nothing soothes like the sound of trickling water, making a water feature a brilliant addition for an extra sense of zen whilst you’re working in the garden’ he says.
For another added bonus, he adds ‘ Water features can help bring your garden to life, not only by providing gentle background noise, but also by attracting birds and wildlife.’
3. Block out distractions
If you live in a busy family home, keep in mind you might not be the only one who wants to be in the garden during the day. Experts at Screen With Envy suggest, ‘Utilise screens to section off your workstation from the rest of the garden, to minimise disruptions from the rest of your family, and maximise concentration.’
A decorative screen can elevate a gardens design for both function and beauty.
4. Make the most of a small balcony
Before lockdown, if you were prone to finding yourself working from a cafe, setting up a three-piece bistro set in your garden or balcony is the ideal way to bring this set up into the comfort of your own outdoor space.
Perfect for solo working and even better for small spaces. ‘Make the most of every little slice of outdoor space’ say the team at Argos, with this handy hook on bistro set. ‘When you’ve finished, fold it up flush against the wall and you can still enjoy your balcony space.’
5. Seek peace and quiet
If you live in a built-up area, you might be contending with the noise of excitable children in their gardens enjoying paddling pools and the like come with the six weeks holiday. Additionally, if you live close to a busy road, rush hour in the morning and in the evening can cause disruptions to your daily routine. To minimise noise and distractions, noise-cancelling headphones are a worthwhile investment.
Using noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds will mean you can conduct all necessary meetings and calls without being disturbed.
6. Choose a location based on connection
No one wants the WiFi to drop out in the middle of an important video meeting. With this in mind it’s important to seek a spot outside that is close enough to the Wi-Fi. ‘Moving your office outside could mean your home connection becomes interrupted and sporadic, which will cause headaches’ warns a spokesperson for Chiltern Garden Buildings.
‘If you can, move the router closer to your chosen spot so your signal strength is the best it can be.’ If you’re route is still too far away try a simple Wi-Fi extender to help strengthen your signal.
7. Avoid slouching on a sofa
Are you sitting comfortable? Probably not! As tempting as it is to lie on a sun lounger the experts say it’s imperative to seek suitable seating. In order to work outside you could be compromising on a proper desk and chair set up, meaning slouching etc. Being outside could mean more uneven surfaces, which will throw positioning off balance.
‘It has been found that eighty-one per cent of us spend between four and nine hours a day seated at our desks. Choice of chair will affect your comfort, concentration and wellbeing during every minute of that time, so if any object is worth investing in for your outside office it is a supportive chair.’
8. Take control of the climate
Although you can’t control the weather, you can control the climate of your workspace. ‘Invest in outdoor ceiling fans and patio heaters to ensure comfortability during Zoom and conference calls’ advice the experts at Chiltern Garden Buildings. ‘To save room, two in one table and heaters are a WFO necessity.’
9. Keep it Shady
While the sunshine is half the draw for working outside, it does present problems. There is nothing worse than not being able to see your laptop screen. Make sure your outdoor office has enough shade and sun to ensure proper lighting. Pergolas, umbrellas and canopies are key to working in the garden effectively.