How Do You Design a Workplace That’s Not an Air Conditioned Office? If the coming spring is luring you outdoors to work, then make sure to arrange six basics for your spot.
In recent years, it’s become more and more popular in Southern Europe—and now in the Czech Republic as well—to sit and work in the gardens of cafes and restaurants. Freelancers are often clumped and humped over their laptops at cafe tables. And this trend of working outdoors is finally affecting office environments too.
Research shows that time outdoors reduces stress while increasing attention, short-term memory, and creativity, and that seeing greenery makes us happier. And that’s every employer’s dream!
The rooftop terrace at Visionary office building in Prague offers a great workplace even for a marathon of emails. Photo by Tomáš Hejzlar
A Future Outside the Walls
At Skanska, we’ve made it a standard policy in recent years to give our office buildings things like roof terraces and parks for relaxation. All the employees at the Corso Court building in Prague’s Karlín district, home to Skanska’s Czech headquarters, can take a break in a courtyard beautiful park, and we all like taking our lunch out there in good weather. Occupants of the neighboring Praga Studios building can enjoy a roof terrace with a view out over Prague. And people at the Visionary building in the Holešovice district can even head out for a jog on a rooftop running track.
But this trend goes even farther: time outdoors doesn’t have to be just a breather among hours of work in an air-conditioned office. How about taking out your laptop, spending all afternoon in the fresh air, and moving forward on your work tasks on top of that? The future of office environments lies here, as illustrated in several projects worldwide.
The Bank of America skyscraper in Houston, Texas (see above) has a green terrace on the 12th floor where you can work on a computer or sit at a meeting in the shadow of a pergola. And it offers yoga lessons on the terrace. In Copenhagen, Denmark, Skanska is erecting CPH Highline, which will have a rooftop community center boasting a wide range of seating: for relaxation and for work, in sunshine and in shadow. (See virtual tour below!)
So then: what’s needed for comfortable work outdoors?
⇒ Fast wi-fi: Here’s the base of Maslow’s Pyramid for every office worker.
⇒ Electricity sockets: Useful for long stints working outdoors and for our constantly dying smartphones. Sockets built into furniture are ideal.
⇒ Ergonomic outdoor chairs and tables: If you’ve ever tried working in an armchair with a laptop literally in your lap, you know how much your back can complain after even just one hour. To work well for hours in a row, you need a chair with a traditional height and a desk you can put a laptop on.
⇒ Shade: Sunlight is good for the human organism, but you won’t see anything at all on a computer screen in direct sunlight. So outdoor work seating needs to be shaded with a pergola or a parasol, for example.
⇒ Protection from the Wind and Rain: Outdoor work seating should be somewhere that’s protected from the wind—definitely not at the edge of a terrace on the 50th floor. Ideally it should also be protected from the rain, so that outdoor office work can continue even during mild summer showers—coworking spots for digital nomads in Southeast Asia can serve as an inspiration.
⇒ Greenery: A view out onto greenery improves mood and concentration and decreases stress. Seating in a park environment can be put directly under trees, while on roof terraces, green roofs and facades can be a good choice.
We at Skanska work off of these principles, and they will soon be reflected in our new office development projects. Occupants of our Parkview building in Pankrác will be able to work outdoors on a large rooftop terrace, while at the Port7 project in Holešovice, they can head to any of five terraces or a large park on the banks of the Vltava.
A rooftop terrace at the top of Praga Studios office building in Prague-Karlín. Photo by Tomáš Hejzlar
Text written by Kateřina Eklová, Project Leader, Skanska Property Czech Republic