With all this extra daylight and our now-official “spring season” status, we are admittedly spending more of our time in the office wishing we were outside instead of in. So we had an idea: this year, let’s really make it happen and brave a few workdays in the Great Outdoors.
We started, therefore, where we always do: with a checklist. The goal was to create a comprehensive listing of everything needed to make an outside “office” as suitable as an indoor one. It began, of course, with the obvious (mobile or home Wi-Fi, laptop, notebook/pen combo). But a few hours and a hundred Google searches later, the list got long—and out of control (noise-reducing headphones! Anti-glare filters! Laptop cooling pads! Paperweights!). Overwhelmed and suddenly intimidated by the idea of our laptop being subjected for even a mere moment to the springtime sunshine, we turned to Joey Roth for a reality check. The industrial designer knows a thing or two about taking work outside, spending a lot of his time designing projects in the bamboo-lined backyard of his Los Angeles home.
“Working outside is more about leaving things behind than acquiring new tools,” he tells us. “It’s easy to mistake tools for ideas, and leaving your normal workspace helps to make the distinction. When I can, I leave my laptop inside and take only a pen, notebook, and cup of tea or coffee with me. The less I take, the more I tend to accomplish.”
Like a majority of us, though, a computer and a connection are still a necessity for Roth. He explains, “90% of my work requires a computer, however, so a laptop with substantial battery life is useful.” And the workspace setup that holds that laptop will vary. On most days, you’ll find him using a weatherproof chair and a simple table created from an old door. But the yard itself works just as well. “I also enjoy working on the ground,” he says.
For Roth, working outside acts as a source of inspiration. “I can get distracted when working, but I get distracted by the right things outside. The movement of bamboo leaves in a breeze inspires me more than the sound of my fridge.” What’s more, he says the benefits of working so close to nature can even perhaps help create better work.
“Work that’s inspired by nature has a chance of being good; work that’s inspired by other work is probably following a trend.”
Consider the checklist ditched. We’ll see you outside.
See new chairs and tables from the Herman Miller Collection Outdoor.
Photos: Joey Roth