Being able to work from home is something of a mixed blessing. You have a lot more freedom to dress how you want, work when you choose, and customize and personalize your space any way you see fit. But this flexibility also means a lack of structure, and trying to work in a house full of people who aren’t can mean lots of distractions. And since there’s little or no separation between your work space and your living space, it can be difficult to remember to clock out at the end of the day. Dedicating a whole room to use as a home office can help, but having your home office in a building separate from your house can work even better. A custom built home office shed can afford privacy and plenty of (literal and figurative) distance between your home life and your work life.
Home office sheds are like a garden shed plus – they’re a little bit bigger and a lot better finished, with all the comforts you’d have if you were actually working inside your house. Usually built to be about 10’x12′, give or take, they offer plenty of room for a computer desk and chair, storage, and seating, and can be wired for electricity and internet as well as heated and cooled (more on this in a bit). But they’re still small enough to fit off in the corner of your back yard, in back of your house, or out at the edge of your property, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice a ton of space to build one. Many home office sheds are also small enough that they don’t need a foundation; like a more traditional shed, they’re simply built directly onto the ground, which makes this a much more affordable option than a traditional addition.
Putting your home office in a structure separate from your actual house also comes with a few advantages all by itself. Most obviously, you’re much less likely to be disturbed – you’re removed from the sound and bustle of the household, and if anyone wants to interrupt you, they have to make a trip to be able to do it. This physical separation can help both you and your family members respect the time that you’re working as work time, which can be much more difficult if you’re just working on a laptop at the dining table. Even if the space is fairly small, it’s yours, which makes it easier to establish rules that can help keep you on task.
Having to actually leave the house to get to your home office can also help force you to treat your work more like work, too. If you have a bad habit of rolling out of bed, stumbling to your computer, and clocking in in your jammies, having a home office shed might help whip you into shape. Since you’ll have to go outside and leave the comforts of your house, you’ll have to actually get ready to do so: shower and dress, put on some shoes, eat breakfast, and maybe make yourself a cup of tea or coffee before venturing outside. Even if you’re just dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, being in “work clothes” can help signal to your brain that it’s time to get things done, and again adds that little extra distinction between your work life and your home life. Once you’re in your office, you can kick off your shoes and get comfortable, but the act of getting ready for work and heading in to the office can make a real difference.
For some professions, having a separate space to do business is practically a necessity. If you need to meet with clients face to face, having a home office shed allows you to host them without letting them into the main part of your home, which is both more professional for you and probably more comfortable for them. Even if you have a dedicated home office with a separate entrance, it can still be awkward to go into someone’s home. Having a freestanding space can make the interaction a little bit more comfortable. Similarly, for those who work with music or audio equipment, it can be difficult to ensure complete silence if you’re working in your home. A home office shed is not only physically removed from any ambient noise, but can be soundproofed and designed specifically to act as a sound studio, which can be much more difficult in an existing home.
As with many outbuildings, it’s possible to buy a home office shed either entirely or partially pre-fabricated. Some of them are even ready to use as soon as they arrive, and a few companies will even help you custom design the interior and exterior, and paint and finish them for you – all you have to do move in the furniture. So when I say “home office shed,” I’m not talking a sheet metal or clapboard contraption set up in your back yard. Though they tend to be on the smaller side, home office sheds are more like a really nice guest house than a tool shed or potting shed. They also frequently have very striking architecture, big windows for ample sunlight, or even full glass walls to let you soak in the view or open up your office to the outdoors.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of building a home office shed is getting the building hooked up to your utilities, and there are a few workarounds for this. Solar panels or a solar roof can save you from having to link the shed up to the rest of your home’s electrical system. Depending on the strength and range of your home’s wi-fi and the placement of your new home office, you might be able to link up to your existing router. Otherwise, you may need to run cable to your shed or supplement with a cellular wi-fi hot spot. For heating and cooling purposes, consider a small wall mounted ductless system. Of course, you should consult with a professional before adding any utilities to a home office shed, both to ensure the work is done correctly (and any solar panels will be able to meet your energy demands if you choose to go that route), and to make sure the space is properly permitted and up to code.
Having your own private office outside your home is a great way to stay focused and avoid distractions. And with modular and pre-fab home office sheds becoming increasingly common, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on this surprisingly practical little luxury.