We’ve all been there: we’re close to wrapping up a huge project at work and if we just push through, we might be able to finish by the end of the day. Of course this means no breaks, no phone calls, no lunch with the rest of the team. After all, the workday is for working and the best way to do that is by sequestering yourself in your office until the job is done, right?
Wrong! Although it seems counterintuitive, stepping away from your office confines for short periods of time actually improves brain function and can boost overall productivity.
Not only are you allowing your brain a brief respite from plugging away at a single task, but by getting away from your desk and stretching your legs, you are also improving circulation and increasing the oxygen in your blood flow which benefits your entire body.
The best part is that by having a separate area for the whole office to recharge as individuals, the benefits spread to the entire team. Indeed, when everyone has a designated area to congregate and converse, these mini-breaks become work sessions in disguise!
So whether you have an actual patch of grass to cultivate or simply an extra office corner you can convert, here are four ways to maximize your workday by creating dedicated desk-diversion areas for the team using something else you might not expect: patio furniture.
1. Break Out into an Outdoor Conference Room
By gathering several picnic-style tables and chairs in a large outdoor area, you can create the conference room of the future. With the technology available today, there’s no reason we must stay cooped up inside on a beautiful day when we can set up shop out in a courtyard.
2. Break-time Bench
Whether placed off to the side of a room, in a hallway or out on a stoop, few things are as functional as a bench. Consider adding one into the office mix to provide a place to relocate when taking a client phone call or to take a quick break in between meetings.
3. Coffee Break for Two
By setting up patio furniture consisting of two chairs with cushions or pillows and a table in between them, you have the perfect layout for a quick coffee break with a co-worker. Or perhaps you’d rather place your laptop on the center table to answer some emails or review some documents? The choice is yours with such a versatile – and beneficial – arrangement!
4. Convertible Break Space
Remember the out-of-office conference room we discussed earlier? Well, a few minor adjustments and it becomes an outdoor entertaining space for office parties, seasonal gatherings and client/customer appreciation events.
Simply add tablecloths to the picnic/conference tables and a few event-specific decorations and you can create a festive environment in no time. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Company Barbecue: Classic red-checked tablecloths, paper plates and plastic cups are a must for this traditional summertime treat. If the party is during the day, attach center umbrellas to the table to provide shade from the sun and if the party extends into the evening, place citronella candles around the perimeter to ward off unwanted insect guests.
- Monthly Birthday Celebrations: If your office celebrates birthdays once a month, take it outside, tie some balloons on the chairs and place a different flavor of cake on each table. By setting up separate cake stations, you encourage the team to move around while they mingle with co-workers they might not otherwise encounter indoors. And who knows what genius brainstorms might evolve from such a meeting?
- Holiday Parties: To add a touch of elegance to an outdoor event, drape beautiful coverings over the tables and use flower arrangements and tea lights throughout. Ditch the paper plates in favor of china place settings and serving trays for all of your VIP clients and customers to interact with the team members that make it all possible.
What other creative ways have you seen patio furniture utilized in a working environment? Do you know of any businesses that have benefitted by incorporating designated spaces for giving employees a break during the day?
Angelo DiGangi, a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago area, is a regular Home Depot blog contributor on outdoor decor projects and products. Angelo’s interests range from providing homeowners tips on outdoor pillows to discussing the latest trends in patio furniture.