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bike 101: five steps to creating an outdoor office

June 29, 2011

my summer office

The beauty of working in academia is that you generally have a flexible schedule and can do a lot of your writing and research from any location you choose. This is especially true in the summer, when the academic year is on pause and less classes are taught, committees don’t meet, and everything tends to slow down a bit.

Maybe you’re not an academic but you work from home, have a flexible freelance career, or simply need to squeeze in some extra computer hours on the weekend. If this applies to you, consider these 5 simple steps to creating an outdoor office…

Summer picnic basket

1. Grab your bike. Pack a pinic blanket, a pillow (particularly nice for balancing laptop on your lap), and some food. Oh yeah, and your work of course. Wouldn’t want to forget that.

outdoor office parking

Office with a view

2. Ride to a park, a college campus, or a lake. (Really, any scenic outdoor place will do). Set up shop*.


View from the top

3. Let your mind take in the beautiful surroundings, the calm of summer, and the taste of seasonal fares. Work for 20 minutes, look up and people watch for ten. Repeat.

watermelon and stripes

my summer office

4. Napping is totally acceptable in your outdoor office. In fact, it might even be a requirement.

5. Pack up at the end of the day, congratulate yourself on work well done, and ride home. Aren’t you glad you put in a few good hours at the office today? Now you definitely deserve that night off.

*baby belly not required.

(More of my outdoor offices from last summer: here, here, and here.)

18 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 07:19

    LOVE this! Makes me wish I were in the States with my bikes this summer…

  2. June 29, 2011 08:35

    I love the idea, but how do you find a position you can actually sustain for long enough to be productive? I just can’t sit on the ground for longer than five minutes without some part of my body falling asleep or getting sore. Then I start shifting around, which distracts me, and of course the longer I’m there the shorter the amount of time I can tolerate a position gets. You can tell, I’m extremely unproductive outdoors and would love to hear any tips, since you seem to be a total outdoor office pro! :)

    • June 29, 2011 09:08


      I think yoga has helped me a lot with this, it’s made me be able to sit in the lotus position for much longer than I used to be able to, I also switch it up and stretch out my legs every once on a while, and lastly, that’s why I also took a pillow with me. I can sit on that and that bit of boost changes up your sitting position enough to help with circulation, feet not falling asleep, etc.

      I don’t really have a perfect solution, I think just switching things up and getting up to stretch once in a while works. Alternately, you could pack a little folding chair or seek out a bench if you wanted to work outside but had trouble with sitting on the ground.


  3. Donna permalink
    June 29, 2011 09:01

    Love your outdoor office! I would only be able to work 10 minutes and have to people watch for 20 minutes at a time.

  4. PaddyAnne permalink
    June 29, 2011 10:18

    I too use a pillow for under my laptop, but I’ve never (yet?!) taken my laptop on my bike, but if I did a pillow would definitely come too. I must give it a try.

    • June 29, 2011 10:27

      Paddy Anne, I biked with my laptop daily for the past year when I’d bike to my university job for teaching. I bike with it to coffee shops to do work quite a bit now too. I’ve never had a problem with taking it on a bike, I don’t think it’s that different from the vibrations and bumps you’d hit in a car with it. So definitely give it a go!

  5. June 29, 2011 11:05

    Oh, this is such an inspiration! I work from home a lot, especially during the summer when no one’s in the office, and I’m always looking for a great change of scenery. It gets so easy to stay holed up in my room and so expensive visiting coffeeshops. What a wonderful reminder that there are free ways to be outside and be productive.

    Great photos!

  6. June 29, 2011 11:18

    You’re so cute! We have almost the same computer. We should both go to parks with wifi and Skype each other and record it and post it. It would be a an online love fest of two bike girls!

  7. June 29, 2011 11:44

    This is phenom! I often sit outside in my backyard with my work, but it seems like so much more fun to go somewhere else, somewhere pretty, and get my work done there.

  8. June 29, 2011 17:43

    That’s quite a tree you’re under.

    Napping is definitely required.

  9. June 30, 2011 09:24

    Oh my gosh. I love that first photo. And I am so loving your blog! So glad I found it!

    Ask the Duplex

  10. June 30, 2011 11:13

    If you’re in Portland, you’ll also want to pack an umbrella, just in case – you never know :)

    Honestly, in the summer, I don’t mind getting rained on, but if you have books and a laptop with you, they would probably rather stay dry :)

    I really wish I could do this, both because it would be nice to be outside more during the day, and because our office gets insufferably hot during the day when it’s hot outside. Would much rather go sit under a tree in a park if I’m going to be hot and sweaty anyway.

  11. July 4, 2011 08:39

    aha! So true! I am doing this right now! :)

  12. July 15, 2011 12:11

    I totally did this because of your post and LOVED it! Thanks for a great post–I found via Lovely Bicycle.

    BTW is that a Wald basket? If so which one?

  13. July 11, 2014 19:16

    Great info. I love all the posts, I really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very nice., Thanks for sharing


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