In office design, we often look for ways to bring the outside in—through the placement of plants and trees and the use of natural materials and natural lighting. People are inherently attracted to the out-of-doors. Worker wellbeing goes up when nature provides the backdrop. 

So, what if designers also worked on bringing the inside out? What if employers embraced the benefits of getting outside and invested in great outdoor workspaces for their people?

We have a few ideas for how those spaces might look—and how they can benefit the organization. 

Researchers have long known that exposure to nature can improve and protect our overall health, particularly our mental health. Spending time outside has clear advantages for workers and their employers: 

  • Reduced worker stress. Stepping outside the office—and outside the daily routine—gives workers a change of scenery and a mental break. Fresh air and natural surroundings can help us relax, breathe more deeply and perhaps see some of our workplace challenges in a new light. 
  • Improved attentiveness. The mental stimulation that comes from exposure to nature can sharpen our focus and make us more attentive. Sometimes all it takes is 10 minutes outside—a quick break on the terrace or patio—to clear the mind and nudge us back into concentration mode. 
  • Enhanced creativity. Changing environments—especially getting outside—is rejuvenating for both the body and the mind. Research even suggests that immersion in nature, and a corresponding reduction in technology use, can improve cognition and creative thinking.
  • Better shared experiences. So often, the catalyst for new ideas is a great conversation. And on a beautiful day, where better to have a great conversation than the great outdoors? As workers take advantage of comfortable outdoor workspaces, they may even find themselves making new connections with colleagues from across the organization. Something about the outdoor environment invites a sense of ease and community that’s not always found within the four walls of the office. 

What should these rejuvenating outdoor workspaces look like? The settings can really be as varied and versatile as the breakout spaces inside the office, with some areas designed for focused solo work—the quiet oasis—and others for relaxed group work or even hands-on collaboration—the casual gathering place.

Now that spring is bursting on the scene nearly everywhere, the time is ripe to update outdoor workspaces to promote employee connections, wellbeing and renewal. 

Going green: When the weather’s nice, who wouldn’t choose this calming outdoor meeting-and-dining space? This covered stone patio plays host to the EMU Ivy Chair and dining table with teak top.

Rejuvenation station: This café-style setting provides an easy mix of outdoor seating and conversation options for individuals and small groups. It features the EMU Re-Trouvé pouf, EMU Round tables, EMU Heaven café armchair and EMU Ivy sofa.

Inside out: Ready access to the indoors is a prime feature of this inviting rooftop deck, equipped with the EMU Heaven table and chairs. A restful place to regroup and recharge, right outside the office.

Looking for more outdoor office design ideas? See our Outdoor Work Environments and EMU Collection Pinterest boards.