According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around a third of working Australians (3.5 million) regularly work from home, with 20% (700,000) of these using their home as their main office. So what about those days when the sun is shining and the draw of the backyard is just too hard to resist? Here’s how to move your office to your patio or deck to take advantage of the fresh air and a change of scenery.
1. Prepare your outdoor work space in advance
Whether you work from home full-time, part-time, or on the odd occasion, make sure you’ve got somewhere to move to seamlessly when you want to work outside, which means thinking about what position you work best in. For some people this involves an upright chair and table; others are perfectly happy in a sun-lounge with a laptop on their knees.
Whatever your preference, ensure you have the appropriate furniture and accessories in place on your deck or patio, so you don’t spend valuable work hours dragging stuff around or re-arranging yourself to get comfortable.
2. Check your connectivity
Regardless of what you do – whether you’re a tradie or a freelance journalist — some if not most of your time at work will be spent on a computer. This is why, when relocating your office to your patio, you should prioritise your connectivity, as a slow or dodgy Internet usually means a slow or dodgy work day. If your outdoor office is a long way from your modem, you may very well discover that the WiFi doesn’t stretch that far.
Of course, you could use your phone as a hotspot, but this might end up chewing through your data and costing you a lot. The best solution is to move your modem to a more central part of the house, to ensure your WiFi reaches to your patio or deck and you have uninterrupted Internet for those times you decide to work outside.
3. Create a comfortable space for clients
Sometimes you may have to meet with clients at home, and if it’s a pleasant day, what better way to make them feel welcome than in a comfortable and stylish patio ‘break-out’ space. If you’ve already spent time creating an outdoor lounge room on your patio or deck, this can double as a good place to meet with clients. Or, if you haven’t yet gone down the increasingly popular path, have a look at our post ‘Why outdoor rooms are the place to be’, which provides lots of inspiration for ways to bring the comforts of indoors to your patio or deck.
The main thing is that your clients feel that the environment they’re in is not only comfortable but exudes the professionalism that they’d expect from an office. After all, it could prove distracting if the family pet keeps trying to jump in your client’s lap, particularly if they’re allergic to fur. So focus on what you’d expect from a business meeting on a patio — keep the surroundings relatively clear of clutter and think about some simple accessories, things like a vase of flowers on the coffee table or a few colourful pot plants. And if it’s a windy day or bordering on too cold or hot, hold your meeting indoors. There’s nothing worse for a client than feeling like they’re battling the elements to get their ideas across.
4. Clearly define work & play
One of the temptations of working on your patio or deck is to drift away from what you need to do and start pottering in the garden, petting the cat or just day-dreaming as you gaze into the cloudless sky. While having nature and the pets around you while you’re working is definitely one of the benefits of your outdoor office, it can also prove to be your downfall.
The best way to tackle this is to set yourself a list of tasks that have to be completed before you take a break, which is pretty much how you’d operate at work but it’s way harder to achieve when you’re not under the watchful eyes of a manager or co-worker. So you have to be super strict when you work from home, rewarding yourself with that half hour in the garden or a bit of shut eye on the sun-lounge. This way you’ll have a great sense of achievement when you’ve ticked off all the tasks on your list, while at the same time enjoying the many benefits of having your office on your patio or deck.