February 5, 2015

While developers have focused on a building’s inside function for the majority of time, many are starting to show the value proposition of outdoor office concepts. This concept stems from the development of mobile technology, and how many workers today no longer need to be tied down to their office or cubicle. Though many companies have focused on office designs to support the mobile workforce, they have yet to pay the same attention to the outside of office buildings.Patio

Many businesses within the greater Ann Arbor area already have small outdoor spaces for their employees (once used for “smoke breaks”). The problem is, these spaces are not viable, comfortable, nor attractive. Most are comprised of a flat one level cement pad with perhaps cement furniture…nothing else. Quite a few of our loyal clients are asking us to “fix this space”, re-create or add to it to make it more appealing to their employees for usage beyond that of taking a simple break…the opportunity for another venue of communication with team members face-to-face, collaborating on projects, working on their tablets, all the while getting fresh air. In addition, many people who knew that they had a comfortable place to luncheon, would be more inclined to bring their lunch to work. This thought supports the fact that people that bring their lunches to work have generally chosen and planned for healthier foods. Also, it keeps them from having to drive during their lunch break, that which can cause stress; and once again, poor food choices, as they, amongst the rest of corporate workers, trying to get lunch all about the same time.

Employers are finding ways to provide better and more options to employees for workspaces…green workspaces. It goes back to offering a variety, about creating new meaning and not necessarily taking the old typology and placing it outdoors. Obviously there are practicalities and variables that can deter the outdoor office concept, including inevitable bad weather, safety, time of use, and security; but again, with the mobile technology, there doesn’t seem to be as much of a defined work space and time.

Green spaceA bench over beautiful outdoor landscape in a corporate setting is almost never used, but we are hoping to change that. As does the homeowner only have about 6 months in Michigan to truly enjoy the weather outdoors, why not maximize the time your company has to utilize its outdoor living space. Creating outdoor seating and conference areas is not all that difficult, and in the long run, can actually increase the productivity of your team.

The concepts of beautifying these once small cement pads or the like are endless. Brick pavers and composite decking are long-term solutions that are low maintenance and sustainable through the winter months, as well as outdoor furniture. Not to mention, the endless options of landscaping, including fully encompassed soothing water features, plantings and seasonal perennials that provide blooms all year (yes, even in winter).