Working outside is great if you’re gainfully employed as, say, a lumberjack, park ranger, or sign spinner. But if you are one of the roughly every two workers who accesses the Internet on the job, your spirit might be willing, but your tech is weak.
There are very specific technical issues that are keeping you indoors. Here are the technologies we lack.
A blinding specular reflection of the sun’s light off a computer screen is, at best, annoying. At worst, it makes you wish Sol would go die the fiery death of an exploding star. (The good news is all you have to do is wait somewhere around 5 billion years.) The liquid crystal display of the average computer screen has the glaring issue of gloss. A glossy, smooth screen allows for more vibrant pixel colors, but reflects light in more uniform angles — which can be aimed right back at your eyes. Rougher matte finishes, which bounce light away in scattered directions, are part of the reason why Kindles, for example, work almost like paper in super-bright settings. (The only shades a Kindle has to master, however, are black and white.) There are commercially available matte screen-shields for computers, though crisper anti-glare glass are at least a few years away. You can always craft a cardboard sun shield, but because you’re outside, everyone passing by, not just your coworkers, gets to judge your weird technohobo chic.
Depending on where you’ve hunkered down among the grass and bugs, getting online might be rough. New York, on the one hand, is planning to turn its old phone booths into Wi-Fi hot spots. Otherwise, outdoor Wi-Fi routers have a range of about 300 feet outside, and while there are also USB Wi-Fi adapters, you’re at the mercy of the mad and vengeful gods of wireless carriers. As more and more devices connect to Wi-Fi, too, “bandwidth congestion” is a thing some data theorists are worried about. Router manufacturer Belkin’s Nandan Kalle told PC World the traditional 2.4GHz radio band is equivalent to a “three-lane road that’s really, really busy.”
Let’s assume you’re not a member of the Postal Service, and that snow, rain, and heat of day are deal-breakers. Even on a pleasantly balmy day, however, you have to contend with dirt. Although there are USB caps and silicone plugs to protect a computer’s more sensitive holes, dirt can still get into places it shouldn’t be. Technology gets hot, which requires fans, which in turn can act as hoovery dust vortexes. This seems like a good place to remind you to clean your computer every so often, even if it’s housebound.
There is a huge disparity in the hazards the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists for office versus outdoor work. The dangers of the office environment range from might leave a bruise (“low drawers open”) to maybe we’ll see you in the ER (“objects falling overhead”). The ways the outside can kill you, to listen to the CDC, anyway, rival a yuppy froyo boutique in variety: there’s lightening (80 deaths a year), allergic stings (40 to 50 deaths), snakes, ticks, poisonous plants, and something called a hobo spider. Granted, the odds of all of these things happening are extremely low, but tech has yet not disrupted the hobo spider.