Working patterns have changed so much in recent times, with the digital revolution freeing up many of us to operate from home. No longer being slaves to the commute, working from home gives us increased productive hours at our desks and more time for our families – making for a much better work/life balance.
The benefits of working from home to both employee and employer are well documented and if you are the autonomous, independent type who can live without gossiping around the water cooler and the warm feeling of office camaraderie, then working from home is probably right up your street.
People who work from home often choose to construct an office in the garden. If space is tight inside the house, this is usually the best option. The physical separation of an office from the house is also helpful in clearly defining your work and home spaces. Yes, your commute may well be reduced to a few steps across the garden, but for an office to work best you still need to make the mental leap into work mode.
The construction of a work space in the garden can take many shapes and forms. Whether you choose a romantic, whitewashed garden shed, a space age bespoke pod or a more conventional timber design, you’ll need to remember a few basic rules.
An efficient modern office space succeeds or fails on the quality of the communication and digital networks installed. Before planning anything, confirm that you can get a feed into the office of all the data you require.
In recent years planning regulations for garden structures have been relaxed a little, in part to help support those wanting to expand on their existing plots. Check with the local council exactly what you are able to do and get clear and accurate details regarding building heights and boundary issues.
The actual interior of a home office can be decorated in many ways, it depends on taste. Artist’s studios are going to look very different from the offices of IT professionals. Focus on maximising the light and ease of use inside with the installation of sliding timber framed doors. Think about blinds, shutters or drapes to control light levels and glare on computer screens. If you envisage working at night a well designed lighting scheme should be put in place. Task and reading lighting as well as overhead illumination which floods the whole space is a good idea – fit dimmer switches for ultimate flexibility.
The manufacture and design of garden office structures has become quite an industry and there are many firms out there able to offer bespoke solutions for your working needs. You can choose these more pricey options, or design and build your own office. Some people have great success recycling steel shipping containers or modifying garden sheds or stables – there isn’t really a wrong way to do it. Be clear about the outcome you want, all the things you need to ensure a smooth running work space – then set about achieving your goals. It sounds simple, because it is.
Comfort at work
Getting the temperature right for maximum work output is important. Too hot and energy levels will flag, too cold and you’ll keep finding excuses to head back towards the house and all its distractions. Really good insulation, double glazed windows and decent heating and ventilation or air con are worth installing if you want to realistically work all year round in your garden office. The site of your office in the garden will be affected by large trees casting shadows or by blasting heat if it is directly south facing – take care when orientating the office for optimum use of sun in winter and shade in summer.
Fit flooring that is easy to wipe clean and sweep up – the garden is right outside the door, and in wet weather muddy feet will make a mess, in autumn leaves will blow in and in summer dry dust will infiltrate.
Nothing keeps morale up like a good cuppa, so tea and coffee making facilities make sense. If you can stretch to the extra plumbing and drainage, a loo and sink is a good idea, otherwise, again you’ll be forced back into the house where temptations to stay lurk everywhere.
Everyone works differently and the specifications of a home working space will vary from person to person. But get the basics right, and you too could soon be saying ‘Goodbye commute, hello garden office.’ Sound tempting?