Think Outside the Walls: Designing Outdoor Workspaces

  • Working outside offers undeniable health and productivity benefits that increase employee happiness, engagement, and retention. 
  • The most effective outdoor workspaces utilize furniture and materials/fabrics that create an extension of your indoor workspace through cohesion and functionality. 
  • Designing an impactful outdoor workspace should consider everything from the weather and technology to employee work styles.

The modern workspace has evolved like crazy over the last couple of years. Basically, it now has zero limits. Basements, rooftops, cafes, patios — we’ve discovered just how efficient we can be in places we never expected, and we’ve realized that getting outside is good for both our health AND our productivity.

But in order to really max out these benefits, you need the right stuff. Because whether you’re spicing up a team meeting with some sunshine, or simply escaping your desk for a little fresh air, it’s a lot easier to get things done when your outdoor space isn’t just some tables and chairs — but a true extension of your office.

Ethosource is here to help you realize what that can look like — and we’re ready to help you make it a reality when you are. Check out the benefits and some helpful tips to designing an impactful outdoor workspace.

  • Better Focus & Concentration

    The modern workplace can have a lot of distractions. The open floor plan is especially guilty of this. A study by the University of Irvine, CA showed that the average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes, taking about 25 minutes to bounce back to an original task. That’s a lot of wasted time.

    While these open spaces have their own benefits, when employees do want to escape the surrounding ringing phones and meeting chatter, going outside should be an option. A thoughtfully-designed outdoor workspace offers a different environment to help employees rejuvenate and refocus without having to close their laptop to do it.

  • Improved Creativity & Problem-Solving

    Getting outside isn’t just a great way to take a break; it’s actually where creativity and problem-solving skills are at their peak. Aka a huge missed opportunity for companies without outdoor spaces.


    A University of Stanford study showed that 81% of workers experienced enhanced creative thinking after walking outside — generating “the most novel and highest quality” ideas of all variables tested. Sounds like it’s time to move those important brainstorming sessions outdoors.

  • Increased Engagement & Retention

    Keeping your employees happy and engaged is a big challenge for employers as work days get longer and disconnecting becomes harder. Research continues to uncover more and more benefits of working outside — from improved health and wellbeing to increased enthusiasm to improved immune systems and sleep. In fact, 20 minutes in the open air actually provides energy equal to a cup of coffee.


    And outside spaces are a great way to strengthen company culture too. Studies actually show that exposure to nature can improve feelings of trust, community, and goodwill.  When your employees feel really good about where they work and who they work with, they not only stick around, but they also become your biggest brand advocates.

Some things to think about:

  • Consider Where You Are

    Weather is weather. It’s something you can’t ignore when designing your outdoor space. If you’re in a warmer, sunnier climate, include sunshades, canopies, or umbrellas to provide some relief from the sun. Mounted fans or ceiling fans are another clutch addition during the summer months. Reversely, maximize the use of your outdoor space by incorporating heat lamps, fire pits, or fireplaces to keep employees warm. The more comfortable they are, the more productive they’ll be.

  • Set Some Boundaries

    The outdoors can have its share of distractions too. And the best way to try and combat some of these triggers is by setting boundaries to break up your space. Half walls, large planters, even outdoor rugs and decor can help naturally separate areas to differentiate between collaboration-based and individual work zones.

  • Offer More Options

    The same rules inside apply outside too. Every employee’s workstyle is different and your outdoor space should be versatile enough so that everyone feels comfortable working there. High tops, conference tables, lounge areas, and ottomans are just a few examples to make your space more accomodating and easily adaptable.

Outdoor office must-haves:

When designing an effective outdoor workspace for your team, here’s a good checklist to get you started:

 Wi-Fi extenders 
 Outdoor Television (for entertainment or conferencing)
 Plenty of GFCI outlets 
 Larger Collaboration Tables
 Cozy, Lounge Seating 
 Heat lamps  & Fans (depending on the climate)
 Additional Lighting (spotlights, lamps, etc.) 
 Outdoor Fabrics/Materials  (Polyester, acrylic fabric, plastic, hardwood, aluminum, etc.)

Don’t worry — Ethosource isn’t just your indoor office furniture experts; we can help bring your outdoor workspace visions to life too! Not sure what you want? Contact us to work with one of our expert designers and discuss the possibilities today.