As your employees come back to the office, how can you create safe, inviting spaces for them? Warmer weather offers the perfect opportunity to enliven outdoor areas around your business.
At Global Industrial, we provide a wide range of solutions that can help contribute to the work-life balance of all employees, encouraging them to spend more time outdoors—whether it’s to learn, work, or just take a well-earned break.
Everyone is in need of a little vitamin D after a year-plus of quarantine. However, if your work facility lacks trees or a covered overhang, be sure to create a shady space for lunch and snack breaks.
A retractable awning directly attached to the building cuts the sun’s glare and provides a dry spot during rainy summer afternoons. An aluminum patio cover with UV-protected polycarbonate roof panels is a more permanent, year-round solution, while a gazebo can add a bit of shade and plenty of curb appeal to even the most industrial of spaces.
Spruce up that bland concrete courtyard with a little greenery. Large, galvanized steel planter beds are a great way to add an attractive border to any space. Position several of these planters in a row and fill them with tall grasses, summer flowers, or even herbs to make that outdoor lunch area more tranquil.
But remember: Even the smallest entryway spaces can benefit from the height and color of a potted plant kept in a compact planter.
Keep It Cool
No matter where you’re located, it’s likely that at some point during the height of summer, you’ll encounter hot and humid conditions. Encourage your employees to take advantage of that outdoor space even on those hotter days by providing comforts for them to keep their cool.
Outdoor-rated blower fans enhance air flow, while mister fans provide cooling relief for outdoor events. Consider installing outdoor bottle refilling stations for an environmentally-friendly way for employees to hydrate.
Sometimes the best ideas don’t come out of meetings or while sitting in front of a computer. Help spark creativity with inviting outdoor seating options that give employees space to social distance while comfortably conversing.
Even if your facility’s locale is less-than-visually-appealing, look for cushioned outdoor conversation sets and ergonomic Adirondack chairs. Add in a colorful rug, throw pillows, and decorative accents like a birdbath or umbrella to breathe new life into drab spaces.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that employees are adaptable—whether it’s educators teaching via Zoom, IT staff troubleshooting workers’ computer problems remotely, or healthcare workers switching to telemedicine.
Give in-person employees the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to by installing electrical outlets and Wi-Fi extenders around your facility’s outdoor areas. That way, anyone can bring their computer outdoors to catch up on emails, charge a phone, or hold an impromptu meeting in the fresh air.
Ban the Bugs
Midafternoon mosquitoes, flies, and wasps buzzing can be a real nuisance. Freestanding or wall-mounted bug zappers do a great job of attracting and capturing pests in eating areas, under awnings, and around overhangs and doorways.
Create Safe Gathering Spaces
In addition to social distancing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends outdoor gatherings whenever possible. Reimagine a traditional conference room meeting, those after-work mixers, and on-site client lunches by offering outdoor spaces for eating and safely mingling.
Picnic tables are a classic choice, but consider also adding a series of spread-out dining sets or bar-height tables for meetings, socially-distanced lunches, and after-work get-togethers. For the comfort of employees or clients, consider providing portable handwashing or sanitizing stations.
Offer the Unexpected
If space and budget allow, why not add some little extras to enhance your office’s outdoor area? A greenhouse on school grounds or restaurant garden beds filled with herbs can help give employees a hands-on outdoor activity. Side tables with tablet holders in a seating area are a thoughtful touch for employees needing a breath of fresh air while staying connected to email. And a charcoal or gas grill on the property can literally give workers a taste of summer while on the job.
Include Eco-Friendly Elements
We know that being in the great outdoors boosts morale and that sunlight and fresh air are good for the body, mind, and spirit. So why not create an overall cleaner environment by incorporating more sustainable practices into your operation?
A compost bin or system can cut down on lunch waste. Outdoor recycling receptacles provide convenient disposal for aluminum cans, food packaging, and office paper. And outdoor ashtrays keep cigarettes extinguished and litter off the ground.
Light It Up
When employees stay late to meet a deadline, they often have a dark walk back to their cars. Outdoor lighting not only improves safety around the building after hours, it can also add ambiance to those outdoor spaces.
Though your office already may employ floodlights around the building’s exterior, consider incorporating warmer lighting into the space. Hang string lights across a courtyard to add a warm glow to the eating area, or illuminate walkways with landscape lighting. Decorative lighting—such as gooseneck wall fixtures, flush-mounted ceiling lights beneath a porch overhang, or even pendant lights above an outdoor dining set—gives any outdoor space a cozier aesthetic.
Make the Vision for Your Outdoor Space a Reality
The pandemic has touched every facet of our lives. With more reliance on technology than ever before, a shift in priorities and an increase in vaccinations, both employees and their managers have the opportunity to adapt traditional workspaces to become more flexible as well.
Don’t wait until the height of summer to maximize your outdoor space. With supply chain delays expected to continue through the year and the price of raw materials on the rise, Global Industrial can help you transform your outdoor space quickly and on budget. No matter what your vision is, we’re ready to help you convert your outdoor space into a peaceful setting that can help boost morale and productivity.