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What Do You Think About Outdoor Workspaces?

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By Thao Khia

Ensuring that people feel safe returning to their workspace and reducing the spread of COVID-19 are two factors that HF Planners, LLC prioritizes. Since the pandemic began, HF Planners, LLC has been researching enhanced sanitization practices, social distancing standards, and educating our clients to implement HVAC upgrades to bring fresh outdoor air inside. These are all fundamental ways to reduce virus and disease transmission indoors. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, gathering outdoors would slow the possible spread of COVID-19 greater than in an indoor environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors, including 6% of their life in automobiles. COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to rethink how the workplace contributes to our overall health.

Many studies have shown that nature benefits people in various ways: increased focus enhanced creative thinking, problem-solving, and even increasing overall happiness. These benefits can have a dramatic impact on employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Interior Designers have leaned into these studies, acknowledging concern for people’s health and wellbeing by leveraging the concept of “bringing the outdoors in.” Various solutions to make the indoors feel more like nature include adding plants, wood elements, and natural light in order to mimic the effects of being outside. However, rarely do people talk about bringing the workspace outdoors. Now is the time! According to Jamie Hodari, the CEO of Industrious, “People thrive in co-working spaces, and we think there is potential for even greater benefits if they work together outside.”

It has been a year since the pandemic started, and the struggle of working from home is real; people are turning their dining rooms into offices, escaping to their laundry rooms for a private Zoom meeting. We have a strong need for well-designed outdoor spaces to encourage people to come back and feel comfortable in the workplace.

Outdoor workspace has proven safer than indoor spaces since the risk of HVAC systems recirculating disease particles is absent, while fresh air benefits our cognitive function and good health. Additionally, people have more room to spread out, reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission and contributing to people’s physical wellness, such as reducing stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. For our cognition, being outdoors stimulates reward neurons in the brain for higher productivity and recovery from mental fatigue. The more we explore the benefits of spending work hours outdoors, the more we realize the benefits of spending time outside – better productivity, improved focus, enhanced creativity, and even improved health and wellbeing.

When designing an outdoor workspace, it is critical to consider the impacts of technology, weather, and functionality of the overall area. Depending on your outdoor workspace’s geographic location, sunshine, heat, cold, rain, and wind can all determine the inclusion of specific components in the design of the space. Wi-Fi connectivity and proper power access are necessary components for making an outdoor workspace safe and effective. Being able to host meetings outdoors successfully can be a great vehicle to enhance employee and client engagement. From heads-down work to board meetings, the outdoors can improve every aspect of your workday.

At HF Planners, LLC we have fortified our facilities services with everything businesses need to be successful.