Nowadays, more of us are working from home either part or full-time. This trend has its pros and cons and they should be considered because it’s a trend that continues to gain momentum.
Advantages include spending less time commuting and more time getting things done. One downside is having enough space in your house to set up an office that works.
The first step to boosting your home office productivity is choosing a space that you can make functional. If time or the budget is limited, you can repurpose a spare bedroom, set up a makeshift corner in the family room or basement, or move out to the garage.
That last one may be a little tricky here in Minnesota, but it can be readily accomplished with a little help from your handyman friends.
The most popular trend is to move past the walls and out into your own backyard.
A Home Office Just for You
Of course, even if it’s a beautiful summer day, your productivity will wane if you simply set up your desk and chair on the grass under a shade tree. Most at-home workers need electricity, proper lighting, heating and cooling, and sufficient space to move around and work comfortably.
You may want to have it all, but most people find that’s not practical. More important is that it may be unproductive. In Stephen King’s non-fiction book, On Writing, he offers practical advice for letting creativity and productivity flow. “Write with the door closed. Edit with the door open.”
King’s point is that any distraction, including and especially a magnificent view, distracts from the accomplishment of work objectives. This is why he prefers to work in a windowless room that contains his energies.
It’s something to think about when considering the following popular backyard and home office options.
#1. Outdoor Shed
You may not wish to call it a shed, rather a tiny office, man or woman cave, or studio. Whatever you decide, it’s still a stand-alone structure designed to serve a purpose.
There are many different types and styles of prefabricated sheds available if you consider yourself handy or have access to skilled labor. You will still have to customize it for your particular use, but a key advantage is you have a defined, protected space that’s nearly ready to go.
ALD can help you design your shed to meet your particular needs. Need lots of storage? We can erect shelves, bookcases, and cabinets. Need special lighting? We offer custom solutions that include solar panels, LED, fluorescent, or other types of illumination.
Also, keep in mind that a shed needs a sturdy foundation. Even with a prefab building, it needs to be properly mounted onto a foundation that will keep it secure and prevent ground erosion. It’s essential to find an experienced contractor for this type of work to have the confidence your shed will be on a solid footing that will not shift over time.
#2. Screened Porch
If you prefer to have a more open-air solution, a screened porch or room is ideal. You get protection from wind, rain, and insects, while also enjoying the great outdoors. It’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
In fact, studies have shown that being immersed in the outdoor environment has a stress-reducing effect on people. Being outside can balance the negative impacts of looking at screens with blue-light emitting LCDs for much of the workday.
These outdoor spaces can be used during at least three of the four Minnesota seasons. Ceiling fans, shade, and wafting breezes will keep it cooler in the summer. The colder weather can be mitigated with several additional features, like portable heaters, fireplaces, adding wall panels or windows over screens, etc.
Did you have a treehouse in your backyard as a child? If not, you probably envied other kids who did.
Making an office out of a treehouse is not as crazy as it sounds. It doesn’t have to be built entirely in a tree to be considered a treehouse. It could be set up slightly above or at the base of a stately, mature tree that has defied time.
If there are stairs to climb, you’ll get additional exercise and the added experience of taking your work to the next level. In all seriousness, children of all ages will be eager to check out mom or dad’s cool treehouse space.
As with any standalone outdoor building, a treehouse can be customized with electricity, plumbing, internet, and other work-related necessities.
If you have a garage, this can be the perfect spot to set up a home office on short notice. It may be inspiring too, imagining that you are channeling the genius of tech luminaries Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who started Apple out of a garage.
Whether it’s an attached or detached garage, the conversion to a workable space is the same. Some recommended steps to achieve the best results:
- Clean It Out – Garages can be catchalls for storing tools, sporting equipment, lawn supplies, and other items. If you’ll be enclosed in the space, you want to relocate all the dirty and unsightly things first. Or you can seal them in boxes and pack them away. Then give the room a thorough cleaning to remove grease, grime, and dirt.
- Divide and Conquer – Partitioning of your garage space with simple walls constructed from 2 x 4s will go a long way toward upping your productivity. Adding some insulation, drywall, and a ceiling will enable you to control the temperature. Be sure to include some passive venting to have it feel more comfortable.
- Climate Control – Although you can add portable devices for heating and cooling, there will always be spots that don’t get the right amount of temperature control. You may want to consider installing a window to the outside or connecting your garage office to your home’s HVAC system to keep it more comfortable.
If your garage isn’t already insulated, it would be wise to consider adding some to the exterior walls for comfort and energy efficiency. Most garage doors will have sufficient R-value insulation.
- Electricity and Lighting. Most garages already have electricity available that can be extended to your office. You’ll need to plan the space design for optimal use and have more outlets installed, as required. Add lighting fixtures to meet your needs and ensure your home’s WIFI capability extends into the garage.
Get Help from the Pros
Architectural Landscape Design can help you design and build a home office that meets your specifications. We have the experience and knowledge to create custom solutions that will keep you productive and comfortable. We offer a free initial consultation to help you determine if we are a good fit for your backyard office project.