Weekly Editorial

The Move Toward Outdoor Work
Has Taken Hold

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Write Office • August 15, 2022

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Other than the few months of summer (or a few weeks, depending on the year we get here in Michigan), it is easy to forget just how great it is to work outdoors. Yet outdoor workspaces are almost always included when companies build out new or renovate existing corporate campuses. 

The trend toward including outdoor work areas in just about every project is a relatively new development. Not long ago, working outside would have been nearly impossible. Technology didn’t allow for it. Prior to widespread wifi and mobile computers and devices, workers were tied to their desks. And even when these tech advances made their way to the office, few managers would allow employees to choose where they wanted to work, especially if it was in the great outdoors. 

The move toward outdoor work was already taking hold prior to the pandemic, but COVID caused outdoor work to skyrocket. Why work in a germ-filled office when you can do the same job with the wind blowing in your hair?

Tech campuses in warm locales like California, Arizona, Texas and parts of the Southeast lead the charge to allow work outside by adding covered porches, casual outdoor seating and picnic tables. Visit any major tech company today and chances are those outside work areas will be jammed if you stop by on a pleasant day.

The trend has spread and now includes corporate campuses in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Northeast as well. Surprisingly, these outdoor spaces in colder climates get just as much use as their southern counterparts, though use is highest in opposite seasons. Cold climate outdoor work areas are used mostly in spring, summer and fall while warm climate outdoor spaces are utilized most in fall, winter and spring.

There is a very small (but growing) number of manufacturers adding outdoor furniture options. Some of this furniture comes from the big manufacturers like Steelcase and Haworth and a few smaller companies such as Via Seating. Some comes from specialty manufacturers like Landscape Forms and Extremis. It is a market worth examining if you are a manufacturer not involved in outdoor work furniture yet. And if you are a dealer, it is definitely worth recommending to your customers as an added sale. 

Just don’t forget your sunscreen. 

Speaking of places where sunscreen comes in handy, I want to tell you about INSPIRE the Workspace, a cutting-edge new leadership conference designed as a forum for industry executives to discuss what’s next for the work environment and exchange ideas. The event is slated for Nov. 6-9 at the Pendry Hotel in San Diego.

INSPIRE the Workspace is for leaders of forward-thinking office furniture manufacturers, dealerships or design firms and is strictly limited to 200 attendees. It is designed to help leaders future-proof their companies, support changing culture, enhance profitability, and improve well-being. Learn more and apply to attend at indeal.org/inspire, where you can also learn about sponsorship opportunities and other event details. It looks amazing.

And finally, I’d like to ask you to consider advertising with us here at The Insider. The Insider team is working on creating really cool advertising packages that will take full advantage of being a digital publication. Stay tuned. A media kit is coming soon, but you can reach out to me at rob@writeoffice.com if you’d like to get a jumpstart on your competition and get your brand in front of the best dealers in the world. 

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