woman working outdoors

Outdoor Working Spaces: Benefits and Challenges for Employees

COVID-19 has highlighted the problem inside a traditional office. When you have several people inside an enclosed environment, often interacting and sharing equipment, and, most of all, speaking and breathing, which release droplets and aerosol potentially contaminated with viruses, it creates a site for disease outbreaks. That is why, when the pandemic hit, offices were among commercial spaces to be shut down to prevent the further spread of the highly infectious and deadly illness.

During the pandemic, spending time outdoors was preferred because it immediately disappears contaminated air. There is no issue with ventilation. Moreover, the sun can immediately neutralize germs before they can infect someone else.

The great outdoors also can improve productivity. Studies have found that being outdoors can reduce stress, replenish energy, boost memory, and make a person overall happier.

Employees benefit from working outdoors, and so do their employees. Big companies all over the world, such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple, all have outdoor spaces where their employees can choose to complete their tasks or chill after a hard day of work.

However, it is not all peachy. Unlike office spaces indoors, there are factors outside that are beyond the control of administrators and can negatively impact productivity or, worse, the health of employees.

Here are a few barriers to working outdoors.

Bug Attack

When you are outdoors, you are sharing the space with various wild creatures. You cannot ask the birds to stay away from the trees or the butterflies to not come near the flower beds. Nature is theirs, too, regardless of whether you are using it as an office or not.

So, when people work outdoors, they have to be wary of the bugs. The warmer months of spring and summer, which are ideal for spending time outside, wake insects from their slumber.

Offices with outdoor working spaces should ensure that employees are safe from bugs, especially those that carry diseases.

A bite from tiger mosquitoes, known for the white bands on their legs, can cause yellow fever, dengue, and Chikungunya. While these insects are native to Southeast Asia, international travel and the warming planet have allowed the species to spread all over the world, including in northern Europe. It is challenging to get rid of them once they start breeding on a property, but some products and services specifically target these pests. A tiger mosquito attractant can lure the disease-causing insects into a trap. Moreover, removing standing water makes sure that they would not have an opportunity to breed and increase their numbers.

Under the Blazing Sun

Sun exposure is great because it gives the body the materials needed to generate vitamin D, a vital nutrient that plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. Spending time under the sunshine also re-calibrates the body’s internal clock, resulting in a more peaceful sleep at night and a refreshed feeling of waking up the morning after.

rising sun

However, the harmful rays of the sun can destroy the skin. Intense ultraviolet light, which you get from standing under the spring or summer sun, leads to burning. Over time, it also increases a person’s risk of skin cancers.

While the sun is good for their health, it is important to create an outdoor working space that shields employees from being burnt. Adding a couple of patio umbrellas, awnings, or pergolas covered in vines or plastic tiles will protect employees from sunburn. In addition, remind everyone to wear sunscreen if they want to spend the afternoon working outdoors.

Squinting to See

The long-term exposure to fluorescent lighting used in offices can lead to eye strain and migraines. Moreover, although generally safe, some people may experience an elevated stress response from spending time in a room lit with compact fluorescent lamps.

The best source of light is the sun. However, when you are outdoors, the sun makes looking at a screen difficult. The screen of a laptop or smartphone reflects sunlight, and, therefore, trying to read what is on it will push your eyes to work harder.

If working outdoors, pick a spot where the sun does not directly shine on the screen. You can also use a pair of dark-tinted glasses to protect your eyes from glare. There are also laptop hoods that you can purchase to shield your screen and your eyes from direct sunlight.

Working outdoors offers numerous benefits for employees and employers. However, it can also create challenges that affect productivity and safety. Before opening an outdoor area for work, consider the potential hazards that your employees will face.