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How to Set Up a Home Office Outdoors

Someone working on a laptop from an outdoor patio.

Is the shine of working from home starting to dull? Moving your home office outside might be just what you need!

Many people love working from home. Still, it’s not any easier to deal with missing out on the beautiful summer weather just because you’re working in your home office.

An outdoor workspace can help you get a taste of the summer sun and refreshing breezes without sacrificing your to-do list. Here’s how to set it up!

Find a Power Source

Unless you can do your job without plugging in (which is unlikely), your first consideration is a power source.

If you have a space like a deck or patio that already has an outlet, you’re good to go! Just plug in a surge protector and get to work.

If you don’t have an outdoor outlet, you’ll have to get creative. While you might be tempted to just work until your laptop dies, a power source will buy you more time outside. An extension cord is an easy solution, but a portable power bank is the sleeker (but more expensive) option.

Boost Your Wi-Fi

All work-from-home jobs require an internet connection. However, even a strong home connection can get spotty as soon as you step outside. Chances are, you’ll need to boost your Wi-Fi outdoors.

Luckily, our sister site, How-To Geek, has a detailed guide on improving outdoor Wi-Fi. There are a few methods you can try, so at least one of them should work for your home.

Keep Your Electronics Cool

A woman working on a laptop outside at dusk.

Even though the weather might feel perfect to you, it might be too hot for your laptop. Avoid technological difficulties by keeping your electronics cool enough to function.

Try to keep all your electronics in the shade as much as possible. Set your laptop on a flat, hard surface, like a table, rather than your lap where it can more easily overheat. A laptop cooling pad is also a great idea for working outside.

Also, if you can, work outside early in the morning or late in the day rather than during the peak midday heat. That will allow you to avoid the sunshine blasting your patio and prevent it from overheating your gear.

Keep Yourself Cool

You can “overheat,” too! It’s important to stay hydrated while you work outside in the summer heat. A water bottle will help you remember to drink—just keep the lid closed or put it on the ground so you don’t spill water on your laptop. An insulated tumbler is nice for other cold drinks, like iced tea.

Since you won’t have any air conditioning, you might also want to pick up a portable fan.

Find an Outdoor Desk

If you don’t have any outdoor furniture, you’ll need to go desk shopping. Luckily, just about anything with a flat top that’s comfortable for you to sit at will work.

An ordinary patio table is a good choice—just pair it with any comfortable chair. If you only have a balcony, you can get a small, rail-mounted table. An adjustable tray-style desk can also convert almost any outdoor space into a workspace. A clamp-on umbrella will add shade wherever you need it.

Plan for Glare

A man working on his laptop on a sunny patio.
Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock

A setup like the one shown above makes for a great photo. However, with the sun behind him baking his laptop, this guy’s going to spend a lot of time squinting and wondering why his laptop is acting up.

No matter how much you try to stay in the shade, a little glare is almost inevitable as the sun moves throughout the day. A screen hood for your laptop will ensure you’ll be able to see what you’re doing at all hours. It’ll also help your laptop stay cool.

Consider Outside Noise

In some places, outdoor noise might be fairly minimal. However, you might live near noisy construction, a busy street, or rowdy children. In that case, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones are a worthwhile investment.

To stay cooler, you might want to avoid the bulkier styles and get some noise-canceling earbuds instead.

Make Your Essentials Portable

A woman sliding a laptop into a laptop sleeve.
New Africa/Shutterstock

If you have a complex home office setup, toting everything outside and back in again will be a pain. Try to make your office essentials as portable as possible, so you can save yourself some time and hassle.

A simple backpack, tote, or laptop bag will help you quickly take your work outside. Fill it with your everyday necessities, like a portable phone charger, wireless keyboard, extra pens, and even some snacks. Add your electronics, and then head for the great outdoors!

Of course, you might have some tasks you just can’t complete outside, such as when you need dual monitors. In that case, figure out which duties you can do outside and pack your bag accordingly.

As you get in the habit of packing and unpacking your gear in your bag, it will signal the start or end of your workday, making it easier to unplug and enjoy your free time.

Remember Sun Protection

If you get caught up in an assignment that requires your full attention, you can get a sunburn before you know it.

Make sure you include some sunscreen in your work bag, and don’t let it get buried at the bottom where it’ll be forgotten. Set it on your desk as you get settled, so you’ll remember to apply it before you start working.

It’s best to apply it about half an hour before you go outside, but that’s often hard to remember. Reapply it every few hours to stay safe.

In addition to sunscreen, you might also want to invest in a pair of sunglasses that offer UV protection. Otherwise, the bright sun combined with screen time might make your eyes tired faster.

Keep Pests Away

Sunlight isn’t the only thing that can harm your skin outdoors. If bug bites are a concern, you’ll want to use a repellant of some sort while you work.

Cedarcide is a natural, yet effective, option, but you can also use a citronella candle or any method that works for you.

Fully Commit with a Shed

If you want to go all-out, you can buy a prefab shed and use it as a home office. This costs thousands of dollars and isn’t as fully “outdoor” as a patio, deck, or lawn.

However, if you’re desperate for a private workspace, and you have a yard, a prefab shed is a fairly easy way to add an extra room to your home.

You might find that you love your outdoor office space so much, you want to make it permanent and get some furniture specifically for work. However, a simple, portable setup will work just as well, and you can even take it with you on working vacations, if necessary. No matter how you choose to do it, an outdoor office will help you make the most of those long summer days!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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