In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of Britons working from home, which has in turn spurned an interest in ways in which homeowners can make the most of their living space whilst including a home office – enter the garden office.
A great alternative for those who want to work from home without having to sacrifice any living space indoors, a garden office can add value and style to your exterior whilst serving a practical purpose.
What is a garden office?
A garden home office is an workspace set in outdoors, which can either be a separate building such as a shed or scandi-style hut, or an extension built onto the back of the house.
If you are one of the 4 million professional homeworkers in the UK, you may be searching for ways to create a fulfilling work environment without having to turn a spare bedroom into an office. By utilizing outdoor space to create an office or garden studio, you are able to retain your living space while creating a purpose-built area that can come with all the mod-cons you need for remote working.
If you are looking to create a home office in London or another area in which space is at a premium, maximising the impact of every inch of square footage is key. There are now plenty of innovative building designs that can create workable office spaces in even the smallest of gardens, giving you a place to work that is all your very own as you improve the aesthetics and value of your garden.
Benefits of a garden office
Aside from the increase in property value, there are numerous other benefits associated with building a home office in the garden:
A dedicated work space
For many people, a home office doubles up as a guest bedroom, a home gym, or even a playroom. For others homeworkers, there simply isn’t the space for a workroom, and so a laptop on a kitchen table does the trick. By building a home office, you are able to carve out space that is specifically for your work purposes, which can increase productivity and improve focus. A dedicated work space also means you are able to avoid interruptions from family (who can forget this adorable little scene stealer), and it helps you to keep work and life separate. When the working day is done, you can close the door to your office and walk across the garden to home, allowing you to compartmentalise and switch off a little better than you perhaps would if you’d been working from the dining room table all day.
Not only does having a specific work area help you focus in the ways mentioned above, but it also enables you to some tax deductions. You can potentially claim things such as use of home office along with the electricity and any other utilities in this space against your tax bill – working with an accountant will help you determine exactly what you can claim.
Skip the commute
The average commute time in the UK is 54 minutes, more than the 37.5 minutes that workers in the EU spend travelling to work. Of course, with an office at the end of the garden, that time is cut down to about 30 seconds! The time that you would normally spend commuting can be used for either more work or other activities such as hitting the gym or doing the school run, which puts you in control when it comes to managing your work-life balance. In addition to saving time and skipping the stress and hassle that can often accompany a daily commute, you can also reap cost savings benefits of outdoor offices. If you drive to work, your vehicle will incur less wear and tear, or if you take the train, you can save substantially as research has shown the average British worker spends a seventh of their income on rail fares.
Enjoy the outdoors
One great perk of having an office outdoors is the ability to enjoy your garden surroundings more on a daily basis. According to some studies, a minute spent outside on a nature walk can increase work motivation and productivity, which is easily achieved when the outdoors is just a step outside the front door of your office. Many sheds and studios are designed with floor-to-ceiling walls for this exact reason too – you can benefit from natural light as well as the views of beautifully manicured gardens. This can help you relax and focus while you get on with your work in peace and privacy.
If you are installing a home office in the garden, you have creative control over the look and feel of your workspace. This enables you to develop something that truly meets your needs whilst suiting your personal preference, enabling you to go to work in a space you truly love every day. Say goodbye to cold, isolating cubicles and hello to colour, lighting, angles, open plan and just about anything else you could want in your office.
What to consider when choosing your garden office design
When it comes to choosing the design for your office, there are some things to take into consideration:
How often will you use the space – every day, or periodically? Will you spend full days in the office? Will you use it more as a workshop, or will you require a computer and therefore electricity and wi-fi? Sometimes what is stylish at the time or aesthetically pleasing isn’t necessarily the most fit for purpose, and so taking into consideration what you’ll actually be using the majority of the space for and how often should form the crux of your plan.
You’ll need to look at the size you’d ideally like and compare this to what is actually feasible, and consider how the size of the office will complement and interact with the rest of your outdoor space. If you are planning on having the office at the bottom of the garden, you may want to consider putting in a pathway or pavestones to prevent damaging the turf.
Type of garden office buildings
Did you want to install a cabin, a freestanding modular building, or a timber framed structure? Working with an expert or buying a pre-built structure can help you select the best office building for your installation, whether you want something large like a converted shed or an ultra modern garden office pod.
Once you have considered the above, you’ll need to reconcile this with how much money you want to spend. In addition to the shell itself, you’ll need to think about whether you’ll have to spend any money applying for planning permission, along with costs associated with ongoing use such as electricity and heating.
Powering your office
Speaking of electricity and heating, you’ll need to consider these along with things like insulation, soundproofing and internet. If lowering your carbon footprint is important to you, you may wish to consider investing in an eco garden shed. These structures can be self-assembled, and are made using things like organic materials and fair trade wood.
If you will have expensive equipment left in the office overnight, you may wish to invest in security measures such as PIR lights, metal security casings, door and window locks, and alarms. If you have a gravel pathway or surround, the noise this makes underfoot can act as a deterrent to would-be intruders.
Timescale for construction
If you are in immediate need of a garden office, you may want to opt for a ready-made pod, or have someone come and install something that is pre-designed for you. If you have more time and want to invest more effort and perhaps more money into a structure, you can work with an architect to custom create something from the ground up.
How to get wifi into garden shed
For many homeworkers, wi-fi is nothing short of a necessity. A garden office may seem like an ideal solution, but if it can’t connect to broadband, it could quickly become a useless one. Luckily there are some things you can do to extend and strengthen signal to as to avoid work interruptions, such as a Wi-Fi extender, ethernet cable, or powerline networking. Putting the wi-fi in place along with installing the electricity has the potential to be complex, and so working with an architect or experienced garden planner can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Do I need planning permission for a garden office?
The answer to this will depend on the building’s size and location within the garden.
If the building is situated less than 2.0m from the boundary of the property, and has a maximum overall height of no more than 2.5 metres from the current ground level, you will not need planning permission. Also, the building and any additions made to it must not take up more than 50 per cent of the garden. If you are unsure about whether or not you need planning permission for your installation, working with experienced garden designers in London can give you the answers you need to ensure you install a compliant outdoor office that you can enjoy for years to come.