Desperate times call for desperate measures — and if “I’m stuck inside all day and want to get a tan while I work” counts as a desperate time, then the “outdoor desk” is certainly a desperate measure.
The work-from-home hack, which originally went viral in early June, basically just involves stuffing your laptop inside an old cardboard box, a simple-yet-supposedly-effective way to get some sun while avoiding a glare on your screen.
Social media users have had strong feelings about the idea since it first appeared on LinkedIn, when a U.K.-based user named Tom Wood shared his laptop-box setup.
“When you are working from home and want to enjoy the sunshine, yet can’t see your laptop screen because of the sun! Get yourself the latest Technological break through….. The Cardboard Box. I can top up my tan and workout side, without any issues,” Wood wrote.
The concept immediately gained steam on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, although some users questioned whether or not it’s actually effective.
“Have you tried typing yet?” one LinkedIn user asked Wood of his setup.
“Are you really enjoying the sun if there isn’t enough space for your hands and you have to slouch to see the screen?” another added.
Wood openly admitted that his version was simply for show, sharing that he had trouble typing and acknowledging that his laptop might eventually overheat from the temperature. Still, other commenters praised the idea as a “low-tech innovation,” and many claimed they successfully “installed” it in their own yards.
“It’s not glamorous but it does the job,” one user wrote.
“I need one for the beach LOL,” another added.
So, how well does the “outdoor desk” actually work? In The Know put the concept to the test with our own version.
What happened when we tried the viral cardboard box hack
In order to ensure that this thing really works, we decided to take things to the extreme — as extreme as working from your front yard can get, at least.
Many users worked from their back porches or decks, but we gave it a try from the middle of a sunny, 80-degree yard in rural Georgia. That way, there was no way that shade from trees, houses or other structures could help block light onto the screen.
Surprisingly, the box still managed to block nearly all of the light from hitting the screen — at least enough to answer a few Slack messages.
As far as the typing issue goes, that wasn’t really much of a problem. The trick here: Many social media users have been recommending tight, deep boxes — like ones you might bring home from a liquor store — but that idea basically makes it impossible to use your keyboard.
It seems like a shallower box with plenty of width (like this Amazon box, which our model insists he used to order many long, intellectual books) literally gets the job done.
All in all, sticking your hands inside an old cardboard box isn’t the most exciting way to spend a Thursday afternoon, but it definitely adds some flair (and sunshine!) to a long week stuck inside. We’d recommend giving the hack a try — even if it’s just for an hour or so.
If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on all the work-from-home essentials you need to stay productive and focused.
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