This Park Is My Office. Take Your Picnic Elsewhere.

Since he moved his office outside, Arash Azizi has dealt with rainouts, bird droppings and neck pain so bad that he is thinking about fashioning a harness like the ones used by ballpark vendors so he can keep his laptop screen at eye level.

For the 32-year-old writer and graduate student, these inconveniences are no match for the peace of mind that comes with working in nature after months in coronavirus-induced isolation.

Office chair

“It makes me feel like I’m much more in control of my life,” said Mr. Azizi, who has already set up shop in about a dozen spots spanning all five boroughs of New York.

The urban workforce is hitting America’s beaches, parks, playgrounds and boardwalks. Fed up after months of toiling away in tiny apartments, many are taking advantage of balmy temperatures and freedom from managerial oversight by toting their laptops and notepads to public spaces where they can sprawl out.

But former cubicle dwellers said the move hasn’t been seamless. Many have battled spotty phone service, aggressive wildlife or the unavoidable sounds of nature in the middle of a city. Then there are other humans, who are always trying to use prime park-office real estate for things like picnics.

At least a half-dozen states including New York, Indiana and Ohio have allowed nonessential workers to return to offices, but many people are still wary of enclosed spaces. In New York City, only about 10% have returned to Manhattan’s office towers, real-estate executives say. Many companies are extending their work-from-home policies until 2021.

Natalie Hubbard, a 43-year-old surgeon, said she strolls down to Rockaway Beach in Queens every other day to send emails or do paperwork while digging her feet into the sand.


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