Heatwaves of the sort we are currently experiencing always result in a mass exodus from office to park.
But working outdoors, while a lovely idea, has some significant drawbacks. Screens are difficult to read, internet is patchy, bugs abound. So how can you make the most of the weather, while still staying productive?
Think about connectivity
Connectivity is the primary concern when working outside. It is highly likely that you will require an internet connection to carry on your work - so how will you secure this? Unlike many other European countries, there is a relatively small number of places in the UK in which public wifi is freely available. As such, you will probably have to make your own provision.
One option here is to ‘tether’ your smartphone to your laptop or tablet. You should note, however, that this might result in extra charges or the depletion of your data allowance, so you should check the terms of your contract before beginning. Alternatively, you might be able to find a cafe or similar venue that has free wifi, and that also has a garden or outdoors area. The number of High Street cafes with free wifi is growing by the day.
Adjust your display
Screen visibility is one of the key annoyances. Computer and tablet screens tend to be washed out to the point of illegibility in the sun. So how can you make your screen usable?
One option is to boost the contrast and saturation of your screen as far as they will go. This helps to combat the glare caused by direct sunlight - but, crucially, this will deplete your battery more quickly than regular use. You may also be able to mitigate glare by changing the items that you are wearing. Dark coloured t-shirts or shirts are a good idea as they reduce glare, and polarised sunglasses can have a similar effect.
Of course, you may not be able to make your screen legible without some new equipment. There is a range of laptop shades on the market, the best of which can solve this problem instantly. Alternatively, you might choose to invest in an anti-glare screen cover, which can be another effective way of tackling the issue. If you are really serious about working outside, you should consider only purchasing laptops with a matte screen, as these behave much better in direct sunlight.
If you are concerned about wifi connectivity, you might also consider buying a ‘personal hotspot’. These miniature devices provide you with a dedicated 3G connection, and you can connect your laptop or tablet to them in the same way you would connect to your home wifi. The equipment is now reasonably affordable, but you should note that they generally require you to enter into a contract of at least a year.
If you mainly need to read, rather than type, but you still need to move documents electronically, you might consider investing in an e-ink reader like a Kindle. These devices use special screen technology to behave like paper, and are therefore ideal for bright conditions.
Finally, it is worth being realistic about working outdoors. Although there is nothing to stop you working efficiently out of the office, you should think carefully about what you are likely to be able to achieve. Is there reading that you need to do? Could you spend a day without your laptop? If so, consider taking this opportunity to catch up on those tasks. Conversely, if you need to make important phone calls, the noisy outside world, in which phone reception can be patchy, is probably not the best place to do it. By giving some thought to the things you need to achieve, you can help to ensure that your day is both sun-blushed and productive.