Healthcare organization Humana is opening outdoor office spaces to give employees the ability to work together safely in-person as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

“We as humans like to interact with other people. Our culture is built on collaboration, and building relationships and bonds,” said Douglas Edwards, senior vice president of workplace experience for Humana, which opened an outdoor office at a public park near its headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

After months of working remotely, employees want to meet in person again and connect like they used to before the pandemic while remaining safe. “There has been a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for people to see each other. Now, they have an opportunity to do that but to also feel safe,” Edwards said.

Humana’s outdoor office is 20 miles east of the downtown campus at a shady spot in The Parklands of Floyd Forks.

“It was an idea that came up organically. A teammate said that they had an idea that would fit with the way we do things at Humana,” Edwards said

Humana will keep the office open as long as the weather permits. “At some point, it will be too cold outside, but demand for it is high, and people are comfortable now,” Edwards said. Humana is exploring additional creative solutions to provide outdoor elements to employees during the winter months.

Humana doubled the size of its outdoor office within a few weeks of opening it due to high demand. “We can safely support up to 150 people at a time with social distancing in place – with two sessions per day, we can support 300 per day,” said Brad Keller, director of workplace strategy for Humana.

Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, the outdoor office has a limited capacity to keep employees safe. Humana divides workdays into morning and afternoon sessions for additional safety.

Individuals or groups can reserve workspaces at the outdoor office. “We are already finding that smaller teams, of six to 12 people, are coordinating to be onsite together,” Keller said. “We also have large enterprise leaders who have booked an entire session for their teams.”

Humana prioritized safety in designing the outdoor office so that it could accommodate groups and meetings, including having eight feet of space between associates. “The main area is roughly the size of a football field,” Keller said.