Six people work on Country Living furniture under umbrellas on a roof terrace.

Outdoor is the new indoor.

A new trend is making headlines in the New Work world: Outdoor working describes the concept of merging indoor and outdoor working environments. Whether office terrace, city garden or forest hotel – this development is full of exciting facets. Both for those who offer outdoor working spaces and for those who equip them.


Laptop under your arm, smartphone in your pocket and off you go outside: For a long time, the free choice of workplace was mainly reserved for digital nomads who declared the world’s most beautiful sun terraces, gardens and courtyards as their favourite office. The remote working boom of recent years has now also made it possible for many employees to move their place of work to the balcony, the garden or the street café. A privilege that not only pleases, but also feeds the growing need for adequate alternatives to the classic indoor office. With a noticeable effect: more and more companies, coworking spaces and hotels are setting up outdoor areas that specifically invite people to move parts of their work outside.


Green pioneer projects

Large windows, organic materials and extensive greenery: The awareness that working in natural environments promotes health, motivation and productivity has long been accepted in the New Work world. Whereas nature was previously brought indoors for this purpose, the idea of outdoor working is now turning this around: Fascinating projects are currently being created around the globe that enable work in the most natural environments possible. One very special example is Amazon’s “Seattle Spheres” which offer well-equipped working spaces with a jungle feel in the middle of the urban skyline.

Bringing nature to the city: Seattle Spheres by Amazon (image: Amazon).

Many good arguments in favour

Many experts are convinced that outdoor working is not a passing fad, but a trend to be taken seriously. Raphael Gielgen, Future of Work trend scout at Vitra, for example, predicts that the new interplay between indoor and outdoor areas could become the standard in as little as five years. There are plenty of understandable reasons for this: For one thing, current developments on the labour market are driving companies to distinguish themselves as particularly desirable employers. Attractive working environments should help attract new professionals and motivate current teams to return from the home office to the company headquarters.


On the other hand, the topic of outdoor working offers ideal opportunities for repositioning, especially for companies and locations beyond the large conurbations. While big cities score with their urban lifestyle, companies, event locations or conference hotels in rural areas can make excellent use of their proximity to nature. Another argument is the increasing ecological requirements. Both building owners and companies are increasingly turning to natural materials and the greening of indoor and outdoor areas in order to minimise their carbon footprint and polish up their green image. In this context, sustainable outdoor furniture such as the folding chair “Ecochair” by Ecofurn comes into focus in a whole new way and could be used excellently for outdoor meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Outdoor Spaces: What is there to consider?

Location, equipment, ambience: What makes a good outdoor space? And what aspects should be taken into account during planning? Here are three tips:

1. Thinking “out of the box”

Wherever new things come to life, creativity is in demand. Most outdoor working spaces still resemble classic sun terraces. If (almost) full-fledged office spaces are to be created here in the future, “out of the box” ideas are called for. The German-Canadian company Country Living is known for this. Its latest series, “Alwin’s Secretaries” offers the model “The Idealist” (see cover picture), a mini-max workstation including storage space and an extendable table 75 cm long. Smooth-running castors ensure that the agile furniture can be taken from indoors to outdoors at any time. Alternatively, original solutions such as the laptop cushion by Bosign are also conceivable and welcome in modern outdoor spaces.

Country Living

2. Zoning and security

Technology makes it possible: With charging stations, Bluetooth, WIFI and/or VPN access, almost any work environment can be conveniently moved outside. Restrictions sometimes result from the required privacy. Outdoor areas bordering public spaces are hardly suitable for meetings on sensitive topics. In addition, the needs of the different work phases, from communication to concentration, must be considered both indoors and outdoors. Elements such as seating groups, coffee bars, plant walls or outdoor carpets are suitable for zoning the different areas.

The Rug Republic

3. Shade and green

As nice as enjoying the sun may be, you need a shady place to work with your laptop and co. Adequate solutions range from sunshades and sails to smart solutions that can be opened and closed as needed. Fresh greenery can also provide shade. Above all, it creates a pleasant natural ambience and can even bring in herb harvest and is thus doubly trendy. Whether tree, bush, decorative or useful plant, it is important to note that the type and care of the plants must suit the respective location – including its static requirements. If the latter are not given, it is worth looking at mobile concepts such as the flexible planting stations of the French brand Véritable (see collage below).

Klatt Objects

Exciting prospects

All in all, this New Work facet opens good prospects not only for digitally working professionals, but also for contract business and hospitality suppliers from a wide range of segments: from outdoor furniture and urban gardening solutions to the furnishing of chic outdoor coffee bars as central magnets for communication and social interaction. Hospitality suppliers such as the BHS brand Schönwald offer contemporary collections that make you want more.


Especially when it comes to details, creativity can be given free rein. Whether it’s lunch, a meeting or a coffee break, seating areas can be made inviting with chic furniture, cushions, and small accessories. At meetings, attentive employers serve healthy snacks in chic bowls. And to-go dishes such as those from the Mepal brand are ideal for taking snacks and drinks outside without accidents. Other conceivable gadgets include portable battery-powered fans, insulated mobile phone boxes for radio silence during brainstorming sessions or relaxed birdsong for a real feeling of nature even in the urban rooftop office.

1 Herb and plant station from Véritable // 2 Zirpybox from Relaxound // 3 bowl set with wooden tray from Remember // 4 BLOCK Handybox, distributed by MISC.Distribution // 5 battery-powered fan by Printworks, distributed by dpf Design // 6 chair by Bloomingville

The topic of outdoor working is still in its infancy, which can also be seen in the fact that classic office suppliers still play a marginal role in this context. If the forecast that the trend will establish itself as the standard in the next five years comes true, this could well change. Many brands and manufacturers already see good prospects in this trend.

Other specialised suppliers can also envisage taking up the topic anew, including Vario Büroeinrichtungen GmbH & Co. KG. “Outdoor working is an exciting trend for Vario, because especially with our new products we focus on flexibility – for example with the highly mobile wall system EDGE, which basically works everywhere – even in the courtyard or on the roof terrace,” says Vario Managing Director Matthias Kurreck. The rollable and versatile system is not yet weatherproof. But that might change soon.


Header image: Country Living