EDSA | News | KPMG Lakehouse

Noticias y Eventos

After more than a year of being stuck inside due to COVID-19, some employers are now trying to give their employees fresh air during the work day.

As the country slowly reopens and transitions to post-pandemic life, employers are eager to have their workers back, but need to find creative ways to bring them in. Offering an outdoor workspace is an innovative way to make the office experience more appealing.

“Some businesses have been seeing the attribute of having outdoor spaces as a huge benefit to their staff,” says Rob Hutcheson, principal and landscape architect at EDSA. “I think the COVID-19 pandemic also raised the alert to a lot of people that we need to think of other offerings, outside of just being in the building all day long.”

Employers like PepsiCo and KPMG have embraced the outdoor office concept and have provided outdoor living rooms, courtyards, and recreational space for employees. While making a workplace functional is a priority, leisure is also a focus as these spaces come to fruition.

“We want to educate people and show them they have an asset right in front of them that they’re not aware of,” Hutcheson says. “They’ve always parked the car outside, they’ve walked on a sidewalk to the building, but they haven’t realized that there’s a blank canvas that is ripe for additional offerings that they may not have thought about.”

Hutcheson’s firm is looking to expand an employer’s vision of what the office can be. One project, the KPMG Lakehouse in Orlando, FL, is a 55-acre property with 800 single occupancy guest rooms the firm uses for conferences, training and other corporate gatherings. Amenities on the property include a fitness center measuring 15,000 square feet and walking and biking trails.

Hutcheson says the location helped the company foster teamwork and creativity, and saved them money.

“KPMG was spending a lot of money renting hotel facilities for their conferences to bring their team together,” he says. “They realized they can build their own facility as a training headquarters and create all these outdoor spaces for learning and education for KPMG employees only. You’re not having to worry about closing off a part of their facility like at a hotel. We were able to maximize the outdoor spaces for them to allow flexibility.”

In order to make an outdoor workspace functional, EDSA relies on three key elements: creating microclimates, maximizing technology, and encouraging work-life balance. Oak trees and organic elements are a key part in designing shaded areas to allow employees to see their laptop monitors through sunny days and keep cool. Wired power poles provide fast, efficient Wi-Fi and accessible outlets.

Recreational spaces to play games such as bocce ball or table tennis have also been utilized in these workspaces to make it inviting to employees, but Hutcheson says there is a line that must be drawn. “You have to make sure that it’s designed properly, to cater to the tenants in the offices, but not be so inviting that the public could potentially take over and think it’s their park.”

This trend of outdoor workspaces is another way employers are shifting their focus to an employee’s well-being and happiness. When employees feel good, businesses do well.

“The main aspect is looking at people’s overall health and wellness. If someone is on the fence about implementing this idea, I would encourage them to go to another facility that has this, talk to those owners and tenants,” Hutcheson says. “Ask them if they are seeing better health and well-being from their staff than in their previous location and if there are less sick days? Is there less stress? Look at all those attributes from their staff to see what the benefit has been.”