You’ve seen it before on social media: a remote worker with a laptop open, smiling while they’re working in front of the pool or another idyllic scene. Perhaps you’ve always wondered if you could do it yourself. Or maybe you’ve just grown tired of working in your home office day after day. Whatever your reason for working from home outdoors, just remember that it’s attainable. With a few real tips and some planning, you can turn your backyard, common area, or a hotel pool into your office and remain just as productive as you would in the office. Here’s how.
Get the Perfect Setup
Even the most serene atmosphere or setting isn’t ideal for working from home outdoors, but that’s to be expected. You’ve probably never attempted such a grandiose work environment. That’s what makes the perfect setup all the more important.
Just as you would tailor your home office to suit your needs, you have to do the same to your backyard or patio. As such, you’ll need a setup that mimics your home office, albeit with some minor tweaks.
Think about what makes your home office functional and relaxing, and bring the same type of ideas to your outdoor workspace. You’ll obviously need a comfortable chair and desk, as well as any other furniture necessary to keep yourself organized. For example, a rolling table is an excellent choice for a wireless printer or makeshift filing cabinet. Stay away from clutter, keep only the necessities to streamline your workflow, and you’ll get off on the right foot.
Harness the Power of Wi-Fi Technology
A strong internet or Wi-Fi signal is a must for the industrious remote worker, but when you’re outside, this may seem impossible. Fortunately, a host of Wi-Fi products can make working from outdoors far more possible than it was even a few years ago.
One thing you may want invest in is a new router. A high-quality router is almost always better than the one the cable or internet company gives you. They’re cutting costs by giving you the cheap model. To circumnavigate this issue, look to high-strength Wi-Fi routers such as the Netgear Nighthawk or the Google Nest Wi-Fi Router. Some of these systems also have little pods that you can place around your home or outdoors to make the signal even stronger.
If you’re on a budget or only work outside sparingly, you may not want to buy a $200 router. That’s understandable. If that’s the case, think about purchasing a Wi-Fi range extender. Budget models start at only about $25. Simply plug them into a nearby outlet that’s about halfway between you in the router, and you’ll get a sturdy signal, even if you’re on the deck or patio.
Take Frequent Breaks
Even the most productive workhorse takes breaks every so often. When you’re working from home outdoors, this becomes even more important, not only for focus but for your health. According to studies, taking frequent breaks can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Restoring motivation and avoiding burnout
- Improving your decision-making process
- Boosting creativity and productivity
- Improving your ability to learn
In general, try to take at least a five-minute break every hour or as much as you deem necessary.
Quick Tip: You have many options for taking a break when you’re working from home outdoors. One of those is the Pomodoro Technique, which is a method of working in 25-minute intervals with short, five-minute breaks afterward. Even if you employ your own break schedule, just make sure of one thing: you’re actually taking a break. Housework, parenting, or something else that requires mental, physical, or emotional energy don’t count. So make sure to take full advantage of your break by doing a whole lotta nothing.
Gather All of Your Outdoor Supplies
Hopefully, you have everything you need to create a functional workspace, but your work isn’t done there. You still need some other supplies to make working from home outdoors more comfortable and to eliminate nuisances.
The first thing you should grab are some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Throwing a pair of these in your ears can help you drown out the background noise such as lawn mowers, construction, or traffic. It will also help you tune out any annoying noises from your neighbors or children.
The next item you need is something to keep the bugs away, especially mosquitos and flies. Depending on your focus on going green, you can choose more natural options or use harsher chemicals. Natural bug spray and citronella candles are perfect for keeping away bugs without polluting the environment. If you want something that might be more effective at the minor expense of your at-home ecosystem, you can use a spray that hooks onto your hose. Look for sprays that contain bifenthrin (odor-free) or permethrin (somewhat more effective but with a strong odor), as these have limited side effects on wildlife and plant life.
Finally, think about limiting distractions with a shade, planter, or screen. If your family is outside playing or your neighbors in close proximity, these items create a buffer zone that allows you to sink into your work with fewer annoyances.
Get in the Shade
Prolonged exposure to the sun can give you a great tan, but it also can lead to sunburn or even melanoma. Plus, sitting in the sun can cause you to sweat, which is ridiculously uncomfortable when you’re trying to type or talk to someone on a video chat. If you want to work in the sun and have your breaks in the shade, that might work. Just make sure to grab a bottle of sunblock. Start with SPF 50, and you can slowly work your way down to something less strong as your skin becomes accustomed to the sun.
Quick Tip: If the idea of baking in the sun doesn’t set your world on fire, you can skip the sun altogether. A well-placed patio umbrella can help you stay out of the sun. Or if you want something more fashionable that’s just as effective, opt for a sun shade sail. The only downside is that sails are a pain to move while you can easily tweak an umbrella to move with the sun.
Minimizing distractions can be as simple as obscuring your view with a screen or planter and putting on headphones. If that isn’t quite enough of a buffer zone for you, try to create a schedule.
For example, many people mow their lawns or do landscaping on the same days. Once you’ve honed in on this schedule, you can work inside on days when you know that distractions are at a maximum. If you haven’t figured out the schedule of your neighbors, just ask. Telling people that you’re working from home outdoors will often pique their interest, and they’ll be willing to work with you.
When you’re working from home outdoors, you need to make a conscious effort to support your health. While an ice-cold cherry cola, an iced coffee, or a beer (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?) may sound enticing, don’t go overboard. Instead, choose drinks that keep you hydrated when the temperature and humidity feel like an inferno.
That means you’re going to need to suck down plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. The minimum suggested daily intake is 64 ounces, but in the sun, you may want to drink even more. If you’re feeling sluggish, consider adding a few drinks that have electrolytes, such as Smartwater, Vitamin Water, or Gatorade.
Power Up Your Remote Site
The internet is ready to rock, but don’t forget about powering up your workspace when you’re working from home outdoors. A long-corded surge protector with an extension cord is an excellent option if you don’t have an outside outlet. Or if you need to charge your mobile devices or laptop, a power brick should do the trick. Most cell phone chargers are available for around $50 and can charge your phone up to seven or eight times. If you can’t run a cord to your laptop, a portable charger can be yours for about $100 to $150. Plus, you can use it when you’re on the go, you have a campervan, or you’re doing a bit of work off the beaten path.
You finally have your outdoor workstation set up, you dive into your work, and wham! Something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe it’s the setting or perhaps today is just a little too hot for comfort. Regardless of the reason, never settle if you’re going to work outdoors. The entire idea of working outside is to get away from the familiar and mundane, so if you don’t like your setup, try some other alternatives.
Many cafes have outdoor seating areas, outlets, and free Wi-Fi, making them the obvious choice. However, you shouldn’t overlook bars. You don’t have to imbibe to hop into a bar. Just grab a soda or a coffee, and you’re set. The best part about this idea is that you’re more than likely going to the bar while it’s slow. That translates to fewer distractions and the opportunity to get work done.
Finish It Off by Monitoring Your Work
Working from home outdoors isn’t for everyone, yet the only way you’ll know is if you monitor your work. Use a time-tracking app to see how long you’re actually working and take notes about how much work you actually get done. If you’re far less productive, do more work indoors. If you’re more productive, more power to you. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that you only get so many nice days. You may as well take advantage of them.
Do you have tips for working from home outdoors? What’s the best way to enjoy the weather and still get some work done? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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