Some home offices can boast air purifiers while others store weighted blankets and ergonomic office chairs. But all that time spent indoors — no matter how idyllic or blanket-covered — may mean you’re looking for a change in scenery. If you’re considering shifting your home office outside, there are plenty of gadgets that can help make that time as comfortable and cool as time spent at your desk — as well as protect you from the dangers of the sun, whether through SPF or shade.
In a temperature-related and not entirely logical career move, I spent four years living in California through my first few jobs. During that time, I worked outside often — whether on my balcony or the patio of a neighboring coffee shop. I learned that in order to recreate the experience of an at-home office, working remotely outside requires specific accessories: a charger, for instance, to keep all your electronics’ batteries in check, and a portable fan to clip onto the table or empty chair next to you. To help you craft the ideal outdoor space to work from, we’ve rounded up 11 highly rated accessories that should leave you with about as many benefits of an indoor office while you’re free to enjoy the sun.
Useful office accessories for working outside
From the electronics that keep your gear charged to the accessories meant to keep sweating to a minimum, we found highly rated office accessories to use outside. And where we could, we’ve shared our own recommendations and expert picks.
High temperatures can make us sweat — even worse, our own bodies can make us and the air around us feel even hotter. “When our internal temperature is higher than the air around us, heat is transferred to the surrounding air, so that temperature may actually feel even hotter than what the number of the degrees on the thermometer reads,” Sabina Rebis, MD, previously explained to us. “Fans allow air to carry that heat off, effectively cooling you off.”
The Snawowo Mini Handheld Personal Portable Fan has a tripod for its legs, allowing you to effectively use the Snawowo (try saying its name three times really fast) gripped or wound around a chair, or simply stood up on your picnic table. Its rechargeable 4,000 mAh battery should last for at least five hours, close to a full day’s work outside, the brand says. The Snawowo has a 4.6-star average rating across nearly 10,000 Amazon customer reviews.
Though we’d all love to roll our ergonomic chairs outdoors, that can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. That’s where the seat cushion comes in. Since the outdoor chair you spontaneously select to sit on might be uncomfortable for hours of work (or it’s stiff or cold), a seat cushion allows you to control both its comfort and support.
Although it isn’t going to turn your chair into an ergonomic powerhouse, Select writer Zoe Malin asserts, it can at least help ease the pressure on your back. Our favorite seat cushion is the 2-inch Purple Royal Seat Cushion, whose two sides give you softer and firmer support — choose whatever you prefer each time you sit. Tech expert Whitson Gordon tested this seat cushion and considers it a huge upgrade over just about every chair in his house (he preferred the plush side). The Purple Royal Seat Cushion has an average 4.5-star rating from more than 1,100 Amazon customer reviews.
Outside wellness doesn’t stop with your posture — protecting your face while you work outside is equally important. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends that everyone wear sunscreen to protect their skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and after interviewing medical doctors, we found the Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder was easy to use (and convenient to apply over makeup). It uses both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as active ingredients — it’s also formulated with hyaluronic acid powder to hydrate the skin and green tea, grape seed and oak wood extracts. The Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder has a 4.2-star average rating from more than 2,700 Amazon customer reviews.
The sun knows how to create more than one problem at once, of course. While you can spray sunscreen on yourself before going outside (see above), the sun can also make it difficult to see what’s on your screen. The LapDome Laptop Tent sun shade is designed for laptop smaller than 17 inches and acts as a canopy with a slot for cables in the back. Keep in mind that, while the LapDome is made from a UV-resistant material, it isn’t waterproof. It has a 4.1-star average rating from more than 200 Amazon customer reviews — review outlets like Input Mag have recommended it too.
If you have a bigger backyard, you might be able to work from a patio table — but a smaller balcony may require a lap desk. This LapGear Home Office Lap Desk can fit up to a 15.6-inch laptop and it was the sole model we found in our research that included a mousepad for your mouse as well as a smartphone stand, which doesn’t offer charge. LapGear says the lap desk’s design encourages proper airflow to help prevent overheating, while the dual-cushioned curves at the base of the lap desk are intended to mold to your thighs. It has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 37,000 customer reviews on Amazon.
You’ve probably heard — and felt — your laptop when it’s overheating: The fan inside your computer spins quickly to dissipate heat and the bottom of it warms up. It sounds like your laptop is preparing for take-off. During a hot day outside, that warmth will intensify.
The Havit Laptop Cooler Cooling Pad is designed to cool your laptop. With a USB-A port for power, the Havit features three fans that are meant to be quiet. (Because the Havit uses a USB-A port, and many laptops now connect through USB-C, you can use one of the portable batteries mentioned below to bridge that gap.) LED indicator lights sit near the on/off switch to tell you if the cooling pad is properly working, and it has a stand with adjustable height settings to meet your laptop where it is. The Havit also has an average 4.5-star rating over more than 31,000 reviews.
Like sunscreen (or perhaps, in addition to), an adjustable umbrella can provide protection from the sun when you’re sitting outside without any cover — and you can take it along with you to the beach or park, too. The Sport-Brella Versa-Brella Adjustable Umbrella comes with a clamp at its base to attach to a chair or a table, which eliminates the need for a traditional patio table and makes it easier to use the adjustable umbrella wherever you’re working that day.
The Sport-Brella comes in two sizes: Regular, which is just under 2 pounds, and the Sport-Brella Premiere XL, which weighs a whopping 9 pounds. You can move the umbrella in different directions with the help of a 360-degree swivel and a two-button hinge. You can choose between eight colors, including Midnight Blue and Turquoise. This umbrella has earned an average 4.3-star rating over more than 27,000 reviews on Amazon.
If you’re sitting outside for the day, and find that your picnic table is just a little farther from an electrical outlet than you thought, an outdoor extension cord can be the solution you need to keep all your electronics charged. The brand rates its Heavy Duty Outdoor Extension Cord as water-resistant, weather-resistant, abrasion-resistant and flame-retardant.
Plus, Clear Power says the cord remains flexible in extreme temperatures, from negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit (though you should go inside at that point) to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (again, take shelter). Although this cord is 100 feet long to account for serious distance between you and an electrical outlet, you can choose one that’s much shorter: It comes in a 25-foot cord and a 50-foot cord, too. It has a 4.8- star average rating over more than 3,200 Amazon reviews.
With the outdoors comes noise you don’t expect, sounds you forgot existed and people who tend to march to the beat of their own drum (one you sometimes have to hear, too). In order to tune out the world and focus, the Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700 feature some of the most powerful noise cancelling you can get, not to mention good, balanced sound quality and a super comfortable fit that you can wear for hours on end.
Most useful is its ability to adjust how much noise cancelling you want using its app, which means you can tune your surroundings out or allow some of them in, depending on the situation. If you’re busy juggling tons of tasks, you can use Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant to change a song or — if you start to worry — ask about the weather. You can also tap or hold the right earcup to listen to Spotify. The Bose 700 are rated to last up to 20 hours on a single charge. It has a 4.5 average star rating from nearly 22,000 Amazon customer reviews.
If you need to charge a high capacity device while you’re outside — like, say, your laptop — you’ll need a powerful battery bank like Goal Zero’s Sherpa series. The 94.7Wh-capacity Sherpa is made with a tough aluminum build and it has a 60W USB-C port as well as two 2.4A USB ports, according to Goal Zero. The Goal Zero Sherpa sports a wireless charging pad that lets you charge your device without cables and use its USB ports to charge multiple devices at the same time. It’s about 1.4 pounds. It has a 4.5-star average rating from around 250 Amazon customer reviews.
The 10,000mAh-capacity Anker PowerCore Slim 1000 is a more pocket-friendly portable charging option for your phone or tablet — it’s small enough to throw in your pocket before you venture outside. Select editor Gideon Grudo likes that the PowerCore Slim 1000 contains both a 12W USB-A port and an 18W USB-C port (as long as you have a USB-C to USB-C cable to take advantage of the latter). It’s also really light at 7.5 ounces.