Commercial real estate has entered an age of technology when co-working spaces and remote and contract employees are becoming more commonplace. It has never been more important for companies who want to retain talent and house it in a physical space to provide their employees with amenities. One of the most popular amenities is outdoor space. Employees enjoy having the opportunity to brainstorm during walks, sit outside during lunch, and stave off work-related blues with a quick retreat to nature. It has been scientifically proven that employees working in an environment that incorporates natural elements—whether indoors or outdoors—are happier, healthier, and perform better at work. However, as millennials continue to take over the majority of the workforce, commercial and residential development is booming in urban areas that traditionally lack many outdoor green spaces. So, how can you create an outdoor office amenity without breaking the bank or breaking your lease?
1. Grill out
Even if you don’t have outdoor greenspace, grilling out on a patio or even in the parking lot can be a great way to bring the team together over classic summer food and a sunny day. Turn a few employees into “grill masters” and compare grilling tips. Encourage other employees to take part by contributing to a side dish and dessert potluck. If you have access to a private patio, consider keeping the grill there for the remainder of the season and allowing employees to grill their own burgers and hotdogs during lunch breaks.
2. Outdoor games
Provide your employees with some outdoor entertainment for their breaks. Rather than sitting in the breakroom, get them up and moving with an outdoor game like bean bag toss, ladder ball, or even giant Jenga. If you have a roof deck, patio, or outdoor parking lot, store the games indoors and give employees the option to take them out and challenge each other during breaks. If you don’t have a traditional outdoor space, bring the outdoor games in. Transform a spare meeting room into a game room or partition off a section of the breakroom for game use. Create an employee bracket and see who comes out on top as the ultimate bean toss champion!
3. Roll up the garage door
If you work in a space that has a garage door, roll it up on sunny days and let in some fresh air. If you’re concerned about any pests coming through, consider having a screen installed. Think about setting out patio furniture so employees can roll up the garage and enjoy the weather during their breaks or in-house meetings.
4. Build a balcony
Talk to your landlord and see if there is a floor in your building where they might consider knocking down some walls and constructing an outdoor balcony. This is a more long-term solution, but as outdoor space continues to become more of an essential amenity, landlords may be more open to the idea or to including it as part of their tenant improvement allowances.
5. Golf simulators and putting greens
Rollup putting greens in the office are an easy and classic solution to the breakroom activity problem. Newer to the scene are golf simulators. Think rollup putting green with a screen in front. These simulators may be used outdoors or indoors and project real golf courses right in front of the putting green for a more innovative and authentic experience. Challenge the office to a match over lunch or make a day-long event of it.
6. Bring nature indoors
If you don’t have access to any outdoor space, bring the outdoors in. Research has shown that incorporating biophilic design into your office space can have amazing health, attitude, and quality of work benefits for your team members. Biophilic design is a new trend in architecture and interior design that incorporates natural materials and elements into buildings. These natural materials or elements may be the use of wood, organic shapes, vegetation, natural light, views of nature, and other experiences of the natural world as a part of a building or workplace’s overall design. Incorporating biophilic practices on a budget can be as simple as using more plants in the office’s décor, replacing fluorescent light bulbs with options that better mimic natural light, or opening windows to let in the fresh air. Even by taking small steps like these, you’ll create a noticeable difference in the work environment and a more positive atmosphere for your employees.