Why work from home when you can WFO? A FlexJobs representative offers tips to help people curate an outdoor office space.
Over the last year, professionals around the globe have transitioned to remote work. While some companies are bringing employees back to the traditional office, others are making long-term commitments to remote and hybrid work. At the same time, a number of resorts are offering workcation packages to attract a newly nomadic workforce. As the summer months approach, why work from home when you can work remotely from the great outdoors? FlexJobs shared a list of the remote positions that are ideal for people who want to work outdoors and a number of data-focused, coding and developer roles made the cut.
“Just like making healthy choices such as exercising regularly and ensuring you get enough sleep improves health and well-being, working outdoors positively boosts people’s mental health too,” said Toni Frana, career coach at FlexJobs.
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Overall, accounting, bookkeeping and communications positions topped the FlexJobs list, but a number of data-focused and developer roles made the top 20. For example, data analyst positions ranked sixth in FlexJobs’ roundup of remote positions that are ideal for outdoor work, with medical coder and software developer ranking 14th and 18th, respectively. So what makes these particular jobs especially compatible with working outdoors?
These medical coding and software development roles are compatible with working outdoors because these roles typically require “limited” interactions with other people, Frana explained, and this means “there is a lot of independent work happening.”
“In roles like these, it isn’t as critical to have a super quiet background to perform job duties as there likely isn’t a lot of phone or video conferencing. These roles are typically fully digital, and it isn’t always required to have a hard-wired computer, making it easier to work outside,” Frana said.
Frana also detailed the various factors the company took into account when crafting this roundup. This includes technical and hardware considerations like a reduced need for dual monitors, whether or not the position requires a hardwired computer or if Wi-Fi or a hotspot would suffice, limited interaction with coworkers and more, Frana explained.
Organizations around the globe have adopted remote work policies due to COVID-19. We asked Frana whether the switch to remote work at scale has made particular jobs compatible with working outdoors that have historically not been viewed this way.
Over the past 18 months, Frana said the “majority of jobs that are compatible with working outdoors has largely remained the same,” while noting a considerable increase in remote positions since the start of the pandemic citing FlexJobs data.
Designing an outdoor office space
Designing a standard remote office space comes with its own unique set of challenges and extending the office to the great outdoors adds another layer of complexity. To help people craft their “work from outside” office, Frana provided a number of tips to keep in mind. For starters, she suggested that professionals create a dedicated space to eliminate potential distractions.
“It can be difficult to separate work and play in your outdoor space without a visual divide. Divider screens, trellises, or freestanding lattices can serve as visually pleasing design elements while offering some separation. Large plants or strategically placed pieces of furniture can also do the trick,” Frana said.
Similar to the traditional home workspace, there are certain fundamental workstation elements workers will need to bring to the outside office, and Frana said professionals should “incorporate as much ergonomic design as possible.”
“Standard patio furniture usually isn’t meant to be sat in for an extended period of time. Make sure your chair is comfortable and has a good amount of lumbar support, just as you would in your indoor office setup,” Frana said.
“Just about any table will do, as long as it’s [a] flat surface and has enough space for your laptop, keyboard, mouse, or any other desk accessories you use throughout the day,” she continued.
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As one would imagine, bringing the office outdoors means professionals will be more vulnerable to the elements. Frana suggested using umbrellas or pop-up canopies to limit UV exposure and minimize eye strain due to outdoor screen glare. She also recommended using fans and space heaters to help control the outdoor office climate and warned against abandoning the indoor office outright.
“In most climates, some inclement weather is inevitable. You’ll still need a comfortable place to work when it’s not possible to work outside,” Frana said.
As the saying goes, even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. To minimize the risk of being booted from the Zoom Room, it’s also important to test the workstation beforehand going all-in on the outdoor remote workday.
“Once you’ve incorporated everything you need to be successful in your new #WFO office, spend a little time in your new setup to identify any issues or to tweak as necessary. Test your daily work applications and platforms to ensure they run properly,” Frana said.
Additionally, she suggested testing network connectivity and making sure the space is comfortable and isolated from “potential distractions.”
“Overall, the goal is to experience the beauty of the outdoors and be productive in your new workspace!” Frana said.
Bringing the outdoors indoors
Not all positions translate as well to the outdoors as others, but there are a number of ways to bring the great outdoors into the home office. For example, Frana suggested adding photographs of a person’s favorite outdoor spaces, adding fresh-cut flowers and certain house plants.
“Incorporating plants into a home office not only adds color and character to your home office, it also purifies the air and helps to remove toxins. Some healthy plants for a home office include English Ivy, Bamboo and Spider Plants,” Frana said.
Additionally, she suggested taking a break from the screen with outside activity.
“A little bit of fresh air can go a long way to help you reenergize,” she said.