After a year-plus of being cooped up indoors due to the coronavirus, both customers and employees have been anxious to spend as much time as possible outdoors. They’d probably enjoy just sprawling anywhere outdoors in public simply because they finally can. However, you'll still want to provide ergonomic furniture and equipment for their long-term health and comfort.
A comfortable and efficient workspace is particularly important when it comes to employee productivity. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to incorporate motion control and ergonomics into outdoor workspaces for hotels, restaurants, and even office managers who want their work-from-home employees to be healthy and comfy.
Taking Ergonomic Workspace Design Outside in 6 Ways
Let's look at a few ergonomic workspace design ideas for keeping your customers or employees more comfortable while they're working outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
- Actual work-friendly equipment
- Dedicated outdoor workstations
- Fold-out picnic tables & other fold-out furniture
- Portable outdoor furniture
- Beverage bins & outdoor refrigerators
- Choosing the right office furniture materials
1. You’re Not Actually at the Beach
Do you offer outdoor seating? Why not take advantage of the demand for outdoor workspaces by providing ergonomically correct outdoor furniture designed for comfort while working?
The right configuration will let workers use an actual outdoor desk instead of flopping down in a lounge chair with their laptop literally on their lap. Working from a lounge chair seems like “living the dream,” but it’s actually a nightmare for your neck and back if you have the wrong setup. For better body support, at least use an:
- Ergonomic outdoor folding chair
- Ergonomic outdoor chaise lounge
Then, of course, there are ergonomic accessories to complete the feel. For working at a computer, there are plenty of options for maintaining posture and productivity, just like you would indoors:
- Articulating monitor arms
- Ergonomic keyboard trays
- Ergonomic mouse trays
2. Outdoor Workstation Seating
A dedicated outdoor workstation must account for the same best practices as indoor office furniture. In addition, users may have to deal with heat, screen glare, and the challenges of adapting outdoor furniture to be “workable.”
Some ideas for keeping a professional vibe while accounting for the unique considerations of working outdoors:
- First things first — don't forget to shade your outdoor office space design! Patios and market umbrellas not only protect from sunburn and sweating, they also reduce glare. Computer screen glare can cause eye strain over time, plus electronics don't like the heat either.
- A laptop tray mounted to an armrest folds out of the way when it isn't needed, yet swings up and over when needed for a laptop, paperwork, or lunch. A simple version can even mount to a lounge chair or ergonomic outdoor chaise lounge.
- Seat cushions and lumbar support pillows provide additional comfort and support.
3. Tables on Walls!?
Outdoor seating that folds up easily for storage or to make cleaning a temporary outdoor office easier? Of course!
Attractive picnic tables with folding benches are not only practical for employees, but also appealing to customers. If you want to take space-saving and ergonomics to the next level, you can even add wall-mounted table features. Using motion control hinges, you can:
- Reduce clutter in your design
- Make folding and unfolding easy and convenient
- Eliminate muscle strain from having to drag the tables around
You can even take advantage of these convenient tables in an entertainment space, like you may see in a hotel or restaurant/bar. The tables provide seating during the day and then hide away at night to provide space for a band, dance floor, or other fun and games.
4. Portable Furniture
Instead of a table in a stuffy conference room, office employees would probably relish meeting around an outdoor picnic table, too. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a picnic table, either. Almost any type of table or other furniture can feature this kind of inviting convenience and portability.
Consider a height-adjustable mobile workstation that’s fairly lightweight and is easily wheeled outside when the weather is nice. It offers employees and patrons proper ergonomics and the flexibility to work where they want.
Portable outdoor office furniture also gives the hospitality industry ergonomic options they can wheel in and out as needed. You can easily store them away to protect from bad weather or theft.
5. Hydration Stations
Staying hydrated is essential when working outdoors in the summer heat. The body and brain both require adequate water to function properly. Even mild dehydration will cause an employee's cognitive abilities and productivity to suffer.
That's why you'll want to provide beverage bins or outdoor refrigerators to keep your employees' or customers' brain cells functioning at high speed.
Under-counter refrigerators with motion control hinges open and close smoothly for added convenience and reduced arm stress. Beverage bins with counterbalance or motion-controlled hinges feature an easy-to-lift lid that stays in a horizontal position. It could even double as a work surface with a small footprint!
6. Choosing the Right Material
The right material for your ergonomic furniture and equipment will depend on the environment, the amount of expected use, and your budget.
- Metal with an attractive powder coating is the least expensive option and good for general-purpose use. Depending on your manufacturer, powder coating may be available in thousands of colors.
- Another, more durable, general-use option is 304 stainless steel.
- Marine-grade 316 stainless steel is the most expensive option. However, it will survive in marine or coastal environments where saltwater corrosion eats away at other types of metal.
- Into a more natural look? Finished wood can give you that, along with a more cost-efficient solution (usually). However, even professionally finished wood is susceptible to rotting, pests, and splitting in ways metal simply isn’t.
- Composite materials absorb less heat and require less maintenance than wood. However, they still don’t provide the sturdiness that metal does.
Working Comfortably Outside
Outdoor workstations and conference tables may be a little ... unconventional. However, the benefits of working outside are well worth a little unconventionality. Having a more formal outdoor workspace is a literal breath of fresh air to:
- Ergonomics in restaurant design
- Hotel ergonomics
- Ergonomics in other hospitality industries
- Any employee with a permanent or temporary outdoor office
Below is a free e-guide on making any office or potential work setting more ergonomic. After all, incorporating ergonomics and motion control into outdoor and indoor workspaces ensures that all customers and employees are relaxed, comfortable, and productive!