I tried the cardboard box hack that lets you see your laptop outside in the sun, and it’s a game-changer for summer remote working

I was surprised by how well the cardboard box hack worked. Rachel Hosie/Insider
  • Turning a cardboard box on its side and placing your laptop inside is a trick that lets you work outside in the sun but still see your screen.
  • The hack has been shared online, with many people being impressed.
  • On the hottest day of the year in the UK, I decided to try the technique and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.
  • I could see my screen just fine, my laptop didn’t overheat, and it was lovely to be in the fresh air.
  • The only real problems were that I got too hot and was harassed by wasps, but I’ll definitely do it again.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It turns out there’s a genius way to work outside in the summer, allowing you to see your laptop screen while still enjoying the sunshine.

All you have to do is put your laptop inside a cardboard box turned on its side, Tom Wood wrote on LinkedIn.

People online are expressing their love of the idea, so I decided to give it a try.

I wasn’t expecting it to work that well but was pleasantly surprised! I could see my screen just fine, my laptop didn’t overheat, and it was lovely to be in the fresh air.

The only real problems were that I got too hot and was harrassed by wasps.

The hack could be a game-changer for a summer of remote working

In theory, workplaces being closed due to the coronavirus lockdown provides a golden opportunity for remote workers with gardens this summer. But in reality, anyone who’s tried to work from a laptop in the sun knows it doesn’t work because, well, you can’t see your screen.

(Sure, you could just put up a sun umbrella if you have one, but if you want to soak up some rays it’s just impossible.)

Or so we thought.

Earlier this summer, a man named Tom Wood posted a hack on LinkedIn that would allow you to work outside in the sun, keeping your laptop cool: Put it in a cardboard box.

So simple! So cheap! Why hadn’t we thought of this before?

Needless to say, many people online expressed their amazement, particularly given you can actually buy laptop hoods that do the same thing but can set you back over $US100.

As the hottest day of the year so far in the UK, with temperatures soaring to 31°C (88°F) according to the BBC, I decided it was the perfect day to give the cardboard box hack a try.

And so yes, this article was partly written from my parents’ leafy Leicestershire garden, where I sipped a chilled Diet Coke and soaked up some rays (factor 50 was applied, don’t worry) while typing.

A wine box is the perfect size

Garden office 2
The hack was a work from home game-changer. Rachel Hosie/Insider

First things first, I needed to find the right sized cardboard box for my laptop.

As a family who, like everyone else, has partaken in a spot of online shopping during lockdown, we had various options.

After assessing a few, I found that the best one was from a Lidl wine delivery (my dad likes to buy bottles in bulk, God forbid we ever run out).

I turned the box on its side, balanced the flaps so they stayed open, placed the laptop inside, and I was set to go.

The brightness was surprisingly manageable

Garden office 3
All you need to do is turn a cardboard box on its side and put your laptop inside. Rachel Hosie/Insider

I had the brightness on my laptop already set to the highest, so taking it into the strong sunshine outside, even in the shade of the box, meant the screen was dimmer than it looks inside, but it was actually totally workable.

I could see everything I need to see, but I imagine it wouldn’t be good enough for assessing anything where you really need to see the colour.

Sitting back in a garden chair allowed me to type comfortably, but if I wanted to sit more upright, it was slightly more problematic as the top flap of the box blocked my view.

Whilst my laptop did get warm, it actually didn’t feel any hotter than it does inside, and it didn’t seem to be overheating.

I was into it. The setting was pretty lovely, and the feel of the sun, the breeze, and the views were quite the treat.

Well, they were to start with.

Wasps and sweat aren’t conducive to productivity

Garden office 4

Before too long, I started to sweat. And sweat. And sweat some more. It wasn’t particularly comfortable.

My laptop battery was holding up OK and I was impressed that our countryside wifi was working fine, but I usually have both my laptop and a monitor, which certainly makes my work easier.

While I could just about put up with the sweat, the nature of the outside world proved to be too much thanks to a wasp that just wouldn’t quit.

After getting up and running inside twice in fear of being stung by the persistent insect that wouldn’t stop pestering me, I ultimately called it a day and moved back to the safety of my home office.

I will definitely use the cardboard box hack again


Despite my overheating and near-death experience (exaggeration?), I was actually really impressed with the cardboard box hack. It worked a treat!

I’ll definitely do it again, but probably on a cooler day or later in the afternoon.

Working outside was thoroughly pleasant plus it was lovely to get a vitamin D boost. I never knew a cardboard box could be so versatile.

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