How to work from home in your garden – the ultimate problem solver.

The ultimate guide to topping up your tan without missing a deadline.

A blonde woman using a silver laptop outside on a bench

Thursday, 28 May, 2020

Homeward bound.

With many of us working from home for the foreseeable future, using the garden as ‘office for the day’ isn’t so farfetched! It sounds like a perfect situation; no fluorescent lights, no coffee breath. But working outside comes with it’s own set of problems.

Here are some troubleshooting tips for the most common issues for using your laptop outside. Don’t worry! If you don’t have access to a garden, some of these tips can be applied to working in a park.

The internet keeps dropping out?

So the first thing you’ll need to consider is if your internet connection stretches to the garden. There are a couple of ways to tackle this:

Mesh network: Setting up a mesh network is becoming increasingly affordable. Some ISP’s are even offering mesh tech as part of their packages! Just plug in some wifi boosters nearer the garden and you’ll be good to go!

Use your mobile network: These days most of us are on a huge data plan which we rarely get through. If you have a huge data allowance tethering to send work emails and browse won’t make much of a dent.

Use extension cables for your router: This one is pretty self explanatory. Sometimes the simplest methods are time tested for a reason.

Screen brightness.

If it’s a sunny day you’ll be even more keen to sit outside. However sun also makes it more difficult to see the computer screen.

Screen shields: To tackle this there are screen shields you can buy to cover your screen in shade. You could make your own version with a cardboard box.

Or more realistically, just sit in partial shade.

Laptop getting too hot.

Just like you, your laptop can find the heat a bit much. There are few ways around this, though an ice cold drink should do the trick for overheated users.

Temperature monitor: SpeedFan is a programme that monitors the temperature of your computer to alert you if it overheats. If you’re doing high performance work, or just worried about overuse it could be a good option – outdoors or not.

Take breaks: Just like you, sometimes your laptop needs a rest. It’s recommended not to sit for more than 30 mins without standing up, walking around and stretching. Close the laptop, make a cup of tea and do a little lap of the garden.

Move out of the sun: Again, sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective.

Low battery:

Low battery has been the biggest challenge for working on portable devices. Most modern laptops have a few hours on them for low processing work and browsing. Don’t worry, for those who need a boost there are options.

Laptop power bank: Available for reasonable prices, a laptop power bank can change your workflow entirely. Just make sure your laptop can charge via USB and you know your wall charger output rate. This information can usually be found on your wall charger itself.

Extension lead: need we say anymore?

Uncomfortable chair / table:

Standing desk: As we said, it’s not recommended to sit for more than 30 minutes. With this in mind a standing desk might be the perfect solution. It’s an easy DIY option (washing basket on table) which can ease pressure on your wallet and your spine.

Lumbar cushion: Does what it says on the tin. Turn your old faithful, albeit uncomfortable deck chair into a perfect office chair for minimal cost.

Ergonomic garden furniture: If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can sit outside often it could be worth investing. Ergonomic garden loungers and chairs are available online and work in a similar way to ergonomic office chairs.

Lying down on a blanket: A pose doctors often recommend for back pain is lying on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you can work like this it could save you a lot of discomfort.

The weather is just too nice to focus:

Sorry, we can’t help you with this one! If you’ve been working for a while maybe you should take a break and come back feeling refreshed and ready. Or have a 3pm finish and get a drink, even on a Wednesday!

Natalie Dunning author picture


Natalie Dunning is a freelance writer and Media Psychology researcher based in Manchester.