BEING CONNECTED AND PRODUCTIVE while outdoors is gaining in popularity.
It’s a beautiful day but you find your- self stuck inside, tethered to your desk – your work and productivity
depend on it. And the reality is that even
when the workday ends, it’s no longer
easy to fully disconnect, unplug and go
outside. Now we need to be productive 24/7, but outdoor spaces are rarely
supportive of that need, according to
Sabrina Snyder, product marketing manager for Legrand, a digital and electrical
“As Americans, roughly 90 percent
of our time is spent indoors,” Snyder
explains. “In addition to that, of the
remaining 10 percent, only 7 percent is
really spent outside. The other 3 percent
is spent in cars getting to and from
home and job.”
To counterbalance this inside time,
biophilic design has made strides con-
necting humans and nature by incor-
porating more plants and greenery into
places where people live and work.
Through studies and research, this con-
nection has shown to improve human
health and wellbeing.
Not only that, but investments in
this type of design have delivered ROI,
shown to improve employee productivity
and retention and provide eligibility for
certain LEED credits.
Given these benefits, some building
owners and facility managers are taking the movement a step further by
developing spaces that allow people to
be outside, with nature, yet remain connected and productive.
What We Want in
There are typically three main features
people are looking for in a productive
n Mobility: One essential element is
mobility or the ability to bring devices
(phones, laptops, wearables, tablets
and even audio-visual equipment)
outdoors, and move from space to
space freely without interrupted con-
n Flexibility: It’s important that these
spaces lend themselves to a variety of
activities, such as enhancing collabora-
tion, optimizing downtime and creating
a more productive and more engaged
population. This often means having
spaces that can serve as both individual
and group workspaces.
n Functionality: These spaces need to
support our habits and have all the
conveniences of the indoors, while still
providing the much-needed access
to nature or a comfortable, enjoyable
When Creating Spaces
A common thread that runs through
the concept of creating productive out-
door spaces is the need for intentional
“It’s not as easy as buying a property
that has some green space and calling it
a day. We really need to think about how
you can make those green spaces or outdoor spaces perform better,” Snyder says.
Without being strategic, you run the
risk of having to retrofit a space with
additional electrical outlets and equipment after the fact, which can be both
unsightly and unsafe.
Also consider location and who will be
using the space. Whether it’s education
or hospitality and retail, healthcare or in
a commercial office building, goals will
be unique to each setting and achieving
them will take a strategic and intentional
For instance, in commercial settings
one goal will be to improve productivity,
whereas in a hospitality or retail setting
it’s important to encourage people to stay
“The more people who can use their
devices and power up, the more likely
they are to spend more and stay longer in
that location,” Snyder says.
Finally, consider the climatological conditions that play a role in product choice
and design. This will play a huge part in
choosing equipment and furnishings that
are both sustainable and durable enough
to hold up to the elements.
Rachel Kats ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
staff writer for BUILDINGS.
To learn more about the benefits of outdoor
spaces, including examples and case studies,
watch the BUILDINGS Education webinar “How to
Increase Productivity and Engagement in Outdoor
Spaces” ( bit.ly/2SWYv6D).