As summer approaches and you’re shopping around for your new business site, why not think about incorporating outdoor space into your oﬃce plan? In an outdoor courtyard, employees can get a breath of fresh air, eat a quiet lunch, or even have a brainstorming session. Many businesses also ﬁnd that their courtyard comes in handy when hosting special celebrations like employee awards, company picnics, and more.
But why is an outdoor courtyard seen as a motivator?
People like to be outside. Whether in San Diego, Dallas, Boston, or Minneapolis, people are energized by the great outdoors. A space that was designed just for them by a considerate corporation is a great incentive. An outdoor courtyard offers a place for workers to loosen up, thus spurring creative ideas. More importantly, upon completion, the corporate courtyard may be presented to employees as a gesture of thanks. What a morale booster!
The corporate courtyard also oﬀers a solution for employees who smoke. A corporate courtyard placed 30 to 50 feet away from the building, or tucked away in a hidden alcove, helps maintain a positive ﬁrst impression for visitors by keeping smokers away from the entrances. Ash receptacles can keep walkways litter-free.
So how do you go about planning this corporate retreat?
First, it’s important to select the area. A corporate courtyard can be placed on a paved or other hard-surfaced area surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. A roof-top area or indoor atrium can provide similar solutions for smaller spaces.
When designing the selected space, it’s important to provide enough seating, litter receptacles and ash urns to make the area comfortable for employees. The courtyard will be a popular spot that demands a large seating capacity. If the courtyard is used for eating and meetings, tables are important and may be supplemented by perimeter bench seating. Umbrellas help shield users from harsh sunlight. Planters ﬁlled with bright ﬂowers bring color to the area, and a fountain adds drama. It’s also imperative to consider Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements when designing a courtyard. Be sure to provide wheelchair-accessible seating, entryways, and paving surfaces.
When selecting outdoor corporate furniture, specify products that are easily maintained and durably built for almost constant use and climate changes. Metal, aluminum, hardwoods, and ﬁberglass withstand most outdoor environments quite well. When selecting metal furniture, rust-protection beneath the colorful ﬁnish is essential. With no rust-inhibitor, a small chip can quickly “grow” into a large unﬁnished area. The type of ﬁnish is also a factor in the durability of outdoor furniture. Polyester powder coat is usually the most impervious to fading, chipping, or abrading, when properly applied.
To learn more about outdoor furniture and amenities for your corporate courtyard, check with a design professional. The landscape architect, interior designer or architect that designed other spaces in and around your building will have some valuable suggestions about the type of outdoor features that will enhance your corporate identity.