In some professions, working outdoors is pretty much compulsory. But if you have an office-type role that involves working from home, are there any benefits to taking your to-do list outside when the temperature rises?
The answer, studies would suggest, is yes. Whether you’re working, working out or relaxing outside, research shows a whole host of benefits from simply getting out into the fresh air for a while.
Being outside in nature can make you feel happier, according to one study – and who doesn’t want that? Another study found that being outdoors for as little as 20 minutes can lower levels of stress hormones. And research suggests that time spent outdoors can even improve your brain structure, boosting memory and concentration.
But before you grab your laptop and, with a cry of “Freedom!’, head into the great outdoors, there are a few things to consider. While working outside certainly has its benefits, it also has the potential to turn into an endurance test, rather than a spring/summer treat. Whether you’re setting up a temporary office in a garden, balcony, cafe terrace or park, here are some easy ways to ensure you get the most from your al fresco working day.
1. Seek out shade
It may be tempting to bask in the sun, but you – and your laptop – can quickly overheat. When you’re selecting a spot for your outdoor home office, make shade a priority. And don’t forget, as the sun moves through the day, the shade will move too, so you may need to change position.
2. Check your ‘desk’ set-up
Hopefully, your usual home office is set up to protect and support your neck and back, with everything from desk height to legroom calibrated to your individual body. That might be tricky to achieve when you’re working outside, particularly if you’re using outdoor furniture, which isn’t typically designed for sitting and working on a laptop. (We’re assuming here that transporting your workspace outdoors isn’t an option – but good for you if it is!)
Consider investing in a lumbar support cushion, and make sure you take regular breaks to stand up and walk around. Avoid using a table that’s significantly lower than your seat – you want to keep your wrists in line with your elbows. Building exercises that improve your posture into your daily routine can also help to protect your back.
3. Protect your eyes
Glare from the sun can make working outside a challenge, and it’ll do your eyes no good to be squinting for hours. Look into buying a laptop cover or hood – or simply try the famous cardboard box hack. Increasing the screen brightness of your laptop should also help.
4. Watch the power
Of course, increasing screen brightness can really eat into your battery life. Keep an eye on the battery percentage so you can pop indoors when it needs charging, and bear in mind what’s coming up on your schedule – the last thing you want is for your laptop to power down when you’re halfway through an important video call.
5. Stay hydrated
When you’re hot, you lose fluids through sweat, so make sure you replace them – don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Dehydration can negatively affect your energy and concentration.
6. Check in with your laptop
Even if you’re in the shade, it’s all-too-easy for your laptop to overheat when you’re working outdoors in summer. Make sure nothing is blocking the fan, and shut the laptop down when you’re taking a break from work. Every now and again, touch the bottom of your laptop to gauge its temperature. If it keeps overheating, consider a laptop cooling pad.
7. Manage sound levels
Some people can work happily through music, chatter and other audio disturbances. Others need peace and quiet to get anything done. If that’s you, bear in mind that working outside can be noisier than inside, whether you’re contending with the barks of an excited dog, the shrieks of happy-to-be-on-holiday children or just some improbably loud birds. Noise-cancelling headphones are the swiftest solution. But you don’t necessarily have to invest in more tech. Depending on how sensitive you are to sound, you may get used to the noise of the outdoors through gradual exposure.
Saying that, if you’re doing video meetings, make sure you have a pair of headphones to use with your laptop or smartphone, unless you’re planning on staying on mute throughout. Even a light breeze can disrupt the sound on a call – for all participants.
8. Pack a mouse mat
If you’re a trackpad devotee, you can safely ignore this. But if you’re using a mouse, you’re probably aware that they don’t always react well to different surfaces, so make sure a mat is part of your kit.
9. Apply sunscreen
You knew we were going to say this at some point. Even when you’re in the shade, you need protection from the sun. Apply your SPF 15-20 minutes before you go outside, and reapply every couple of hours.
10. Enjoy yourself
Now that you’ve set yourself up for greatness, enjoy it. Seriously. Breathe in the air, feel the warmth on your skin and take pleasure in the moment.
At David Lloyd Clubs, we offer an excellent environment for getting work done in our comfortable Clubrooms and business lounges. And many of our Clubs have outdoor areas, too. Discover everything there is to enjoy about working from a David Lloyd Club.