Posted by Nuwave at September 5th, 2017
Garden offices are cheap, chic, eco-friendly and above all – there is no commute. Could shedworking be the way forward for workers looking for an office alternative?
Over the last decade we have witnessed the miniaturisation of the office workplace. A cramped outbuilding which once housed lawnmowers and pots can now comfortably be insulated from the cold, fitted with its own electrics, and link you to anywhere in the world. It’s an alternative workplace revolution. It’s shedworking.
According to Emma Jones who runs leading homeworking website Enterprise Nation, there are more than 2.5m businesses being run from home. “We have spotted a significant increase in the number of business owners heading out to the garden and running their ventures,” she says, “and while our research suggests that the spare room will remain the most popular home enterprise space, it is closely followed by the garden office.”
The famous shedworkers who have attracted the most attention are artists and writers such as Philip Pullman, Roald Dahl, Henry Thoreau and Henry Moore (and there is a longer history to shedworking than some might think: the 18th-century man of letters William Cowper had what he called a “sulking room” in the garden at his home in Orchard Side, Buckinghamshire, where he wrote much of his poetry and prose). Nowadays you’re just as likely to find accountants, lawyers and software specialists at the bottom of the garden as you are sculptors, because garden offices are big business.
Shedworking certainly has much to recommend it. Physically, it’s easier to prevent – or at least restrict – your family and pets from invading your workspace. There is no need to double up on spaces, leaving your bedrooms and kitchen tables free for their intended purposes. Financially, it adds value to your property, up to 5% according to some experts, and installing an office in the garden is certainly far cheaper than buying a house with an extra room. Psychologically, shedworking marks a clear difference between where you live and where you work – there’s no taint of work attached to any part of your home. Finally – and, if we’re honest, the clincher for many shedworkers – it is just plain more fun, adding a certain pizzazz to your working life.
To cut costs, try building a garden office yourself or, at the other end of the spectrum, hire an architect to design one for you. Both options have much to recommend them, but the most popular route is to buy an off-the-peg model from one of the many suppliers around the country.
Some designs retain the feel of a traditional, shed-like atmosphere, such as those from The Garden Room Company or Taylors Garden Buildings – one model even has a green sedum roof, an optional extra which is very in vogue at the moment. Indeed, the trend towards eco-friendly garden offices is particularly strong, with companies such as Vivid Green (whose leading model is its five-sided Penthouse) focusing on a low energy product. The Z model from Energy Space is built to generate electricity through solar panels in its roof and owner Aaron Priestman, who has an MSc in environmental architecture, says it is carbon neutral and energy can be diverted back to the main house or the grid when the garden office is not being used.
“It is a lot greener to move words, numbers and ideas than it is to move people,” says Lloyd Alter, architecture expert at leading eco-friendly site Treehugger.com. “In America almost everyone drives to work, so the greenest thing about shedworking is the huge reduction in fuel consumption; Sun Microsystems found that commuting comprises about 98% of each employee’s carbon footprint. They also found that shedworkers use half the electricity and a small fraction of the paper.”
Of course, for a really bucolic shedworking experience, you could opt for the increasingly popular choice of an office in a shepherd’s hut. Run by Richard Lee and Jane Dennison, Dorset-based Plankbridge (Picture 5; is among several specialist companies building new huts and restoring old originals. Plankbridge uses locally sourced materials including Douglas Fir for the chassis and frame, traditional corrugated iron cladding, with optional extras including bunk beds, solar panel light systems and handmade woodburners.
Other garden offices make a more modern architectural statement; slick, highly refined, technologically advanced objects in the landscape. The Cuberno from Rooms Outdoor is inspired by the work of Le Corbusier, himself the designer of the marvellous shedlike atmosphere Le Cabanon on the Cote d’Azur. Ecospace, one of the longest established companies on the market, also features various enticing interior designs: the mono pitch sloping roof ecospace studio pictured is finished in black stained cedar wood cladding and inside has integral furniture, a mezzanine chill-out pad, mini-kitchen, and shower pod.
As well as going green, the latest trend in garden offices is to go small, not least because this helps to get round potential planning problems in conservation areas and other restricted building zones. New shed on the block OfficePOD is also targeting employers as well as potential shedworkers to tell them about the benefits of commuting to the back garden. The building itself is a rather natty 2.1 sq metres, a similar size to Henley’s new Solus model at 2.4m wide x 1.8m deep x 2.3m high, which comes either as a self-build or with professional assembly options. Another titchy build comes from Smart Offices : their Micro measures 2 sq metres and is available at just under £4,000, which in the garden office market is quite a steal.
If you want to go the whole hog, you could even consider living in your garden office. In the US, the tiny house movement is picking up speed, led (unofficially) by Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. His XS house (picture 3) is just 65 sq ft, into which he packs a kitchen, sleeping loft and storage space. Plus it’s on wheels, so you can move house/office when the feeling takes you.
Source – The Guardian