As employees are returning to their offices for work, companies across the world are re-evaluating their current office setups and designs. While the implementation of new hygiene measures is at the top of everyone’s list, many businesses are also considering retrofitting their outdoor areas into outdoor office spaces in an effort to reduce density and provide an overall healthier work environment.
Outdoor working is of course nothing new. Well before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, designers and architects touted the great outdoors as the “new frontier in office space”. Tech companies like Facebook and Samsung are already offering their employees various outdoor spaces and are reporting great results when it comes to employee satisfaction. So what are the benefits of outdoor working and how can it help us return to work in a post-pandemic world?
The benefits of outdoor working
The benefits of providing employees with access to an outdoor space are well-documented, with the majority of research focusing on the positive effects on employee health, emotional wellbeing, stress relief, productivity, and creativity. On top of that, access to natural light and fresh air fulfill basic human needs and can have a significant effect on employee satisfaction and retention. Some experts already predicted at the end of last year that “the outdoor office trend is expected to dominate the commercial design conversation in 2020”. They weren’t wrong. With employee health and safety the number one objective in any post-pandemic office environment, businesses will once again return their focus to outdoor spaces.
The power of the outdoors
So how can businesses turn an indoor workplace into an effective outdoor office? Outdoor spaces can be a real asset when trying to mitigate risks of infection and provide a multitude of benefits that can support both the organization and its employees. From break areas and lunch spots to meetings and computer work, outdoor spaces can easily accommodate the majority of routine office activities. While it’s relatively easy to upgrade outdoor spaces in suburban locations, incorporating outdoor elements into cramped city offices proves a little harder. Many inner-city high-rises will need to take a closer look at underutilized rooftop spaces or consider removing barriers between inside and outside on the lower levels.
Office designs that put people first
As with any good office design – indoors or outdoors, rooftops or patios – it will be important to put people first. Well-designed outdoor workspaces that can be utilized all year around will be key to employee safety and wellbeing moving forward. Regardless of the location and environment of the workplace, providing employees with shelter from sun, wind and rain will be a key requirement, as will be outdoor heating.
With this in mind, it’ll be vital to look past the umbrellas, wi-fi hotspots and power outlets and also consider outdoor heating into any outdoor office designs. Businesses should make sure that heaters are positioned in a way that they offer even heat distribution across the entire space, which might require the installation of additional portable heaters for extra flexibility. Another point to consider is the nature and direction of prevailing winds. This applies in particular to rooftop spaces as these tend to be prone to drafts a result of the “venturi effect” that occurs between the narrow corridors of high-rise buildings. Thoughtful placement of heating in areas most susceptible to ingress of cold air, using wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, suspended or portable heaters, create warm and welcoming spaces where people can work and collaborate comfortably in any weather.
At Bromic we offer a range of high performance, electric, gas and portable heaters that can help turn any outdoor space into an effective outdoor office that can be used all year around. Contact us today for a design layout that will maximize the potential of your outdoor area.