The interest in setting up an office in external space is growing. It can be your terrace, garden, or balcony. People living in urban areas and working in concrete buildings might think that an outdoor office can be counterproductive. Is it ‘professional’ to work from your balcony? We are moving towards a life where unwinding, relaxing and letting off steam is considered important. An outdoor office provides you a chance to tackle work while being close to nature. It is an exciting space to work at and take your productivity to the next level.
Be it space you use regularly or infrequently, and a home office must be comfortable and practical at the same time. You can customize the office in any way you want. While you have the freedom to design the external office, however you want, it can be overwhelming. Your productivity and performance depend on how your office is set up.
Venture outside your house and take a good look around. You can browse through this list of gorgeous garden offices to inspire your creativity. List down the limitations of setting up a home office and how an outdoor office rules out those limitations.
Setting up an external office
A Garden/terrace office can get installed in a week. The planning laws are also relaxed so you can design and envision a space that truly matches your personality. You must, however, contact the local authorities to double-check building laws. Here are some things you need to know about outdoor offices, especially in gardens:
Most garden offices do not require permission as they fall under permitted development
The structure must be less than 2.5 meters high. It can cover up to 50 percent of your garden, including front and side garden.
The external office should be in your backyard unless you take permission to do otherwise
If you own a listed building, you need complete planning permission before creating an outdoor office
Planning a layout
Easy access in and out of the place is essential in an outdoor office. Plan the layout in a way that does not block movement or make you bump into things every day. Size and shape of your office decide other things like furniture options and storage. If the office is for more than one-person, easy movement is a top priority. If the space is limited, focus on seating and working in the office while moving storage and other accessories to the walls. Shelves, cabinets and hanging tools will be your best friend in this case. Find tricky corners that can accommodate shelves. The backside of the door is a nice place to install hooks for hanging equipment.
Essentials at Hand
To stop back and forth trips from the house, keep all your essentials at hand. Snacks, a fruit basket and other munchies will always come in handy. An electric kettle and a small fridge are some things that will save you time. As a result, you will be able to focus on work for a long time and to afford little breaks between work.
If your house is located in an area that gets freezing temperatures, installing heating should be your priority. If you do not plan to use the office during winters, you can avoid this step. But if you plan to use the space regularly, there are plenty of options from which you can choose.
- Electric convection heaters are the most used accessory for heating your office pod. These can be used year-round, and they warm the air quickly. You can set up timers to pre-warm your office before you step in.
- Electric radiators, both traditional and modern, are the second-best option. These radiators are wall-mounted with an electric element. They heat slowly and can be connected to a timer to pre-warm the office.
- Oil-filled radiators are free standing heaters that take a lot of your floor space. The oil is much warmer and keeps it warm even after the heater is extinguished. However, you need professional supervision in installing these radiators.
- Wood burners are everyone’s go-to option for quick heating, and they make an external office feel cozier in winters.
- The cons are ashes, dust, and the cost of installing the oven, which can be high.
Underfloor heaters can become the secondary heating source to provide that extra warmth. It is most expensive as it spread like a mesh under the floor, but it is a great option if you can afford it.
You should design the home office in a way that provides maximum airflow during day and night. If you are situated in warm areas, you will need an air conditioning option.
- Conventional air conditioning is a cooling option for garden/outdoor office builders. However, you have to place the condenser somewhere which is another structural consideration and not pretty looking
- Condenserless cooling options are slim units installed in the office. The panel is connected to ducts within the wall structure. The tubes open on the outer walls through valves that open when the air conditioning is in use.
If you’re going to spend the majority of the week in your workspace, make sure to account for what peripherals will be required. This can include things like scanners, printers, keyboards, monitors, storage devices, and more. When investing in peripherals, you may be tempted to go for the cheapest option. But this could end up costing you before as cheaper models can easily malfunction. Peripherals like high-quality screens and keyboards can offer improved comfort along with several hours of productivity. If you don’t have a lot of space inside, go for multi-functional peripherals such as a printer that can function as a scanner, printer, photocopy and fax machine.
When it comes to an external office, nothing can beat the power of 5G connectivity. In case you aren’t aware, 5G is 70 times faster than the current 4G wireless standard. The latest wireless cellular standard is expected to be available in major cities by the end of next year. But if you can’t wait that long, just go for a regular internet connection which can offer speeds as high as 1 Gbps. Whatever service provider you choose, make sure they offer a fast connection; you’ll need one to access video conferencing, desktop sharing, virtual collaboration, and remote programs like the Adobe Creative Cloud.
A small outbuilding shed, or special structure serving as your home office needs electrical supply. The first thing is to determine what you need from a power supply. It is possible to run the power over the ground, but it is safe to keep it underground. You can do this job yourself, but it is better to speak to a professional about earthing, circuits and more. Electricians are aware of regulations regarding power lines so that they will keep you away from any trouble in the future. Most outdoor offices need a couple of electric sockets to power the printer, computers, and heating/cooling units.
Selecting office furniture will make all the difference in your work routine and put you in a ‘working’ mood. The first and most important piece of furniture in any home office is an ergonomic chair. These chairs are designed to help you work comfortably without straining your body. If you are short on space, look for foldable furniture that you can pack away after using. Pair the chair with a suitable desk and check the height and width according to your space. Tables with additional hooks and hanging options for wires, headphones, and stationery are practical options. Few air-purifying plants in the area will freshen the atmosphere. Moreover, a lamp and cabinetry are also important to set up your essentials.
When choosing storage options for the outdoor office, you need to think of the worst case. What if it pours down hard, and your documents get soiled? There is a huge variety of storage options available that also fit in small spaces. You can take your pick based on the layout of your office.
An outdoor office structure is mostly a daytime space. However, we all take naps between works, so it is bound to happen. Make sure that your office is fitted with appropriate fire safety devices in case of an emergency. Wooden structures can easily catch fire, and it is your responsibility to keep this into account. That’s why fitting smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the office is a must.
Benefits of an outdoor office
Here are the top reasons why people set up offices in external spaces:
Saves time and money
Spending on car fuel, maintenance, and repairs can put a dent on your wallet. Enduring long train trips to work also subtract valuable hours from your day. Instead, walking a few steps towards your garden office takes lesser time and helps you get more work done. You are able to pay attention to important tasks and save up on fuel and other vehicle costs.
Best for startups
Jeff Bezos started Amazon from his parent’s garage. The future big shot worked on his startup from an external office space. It should motivate all entrepreneurs and new business owners to work from an outdoor office space. Why look for productivity elsewhere when you can build the foundation of your business at home? Then some freelancers work from home by default. Scrunching up on the dining chair is not good for your back so that you can utilize the extra space in your rooftop or garden. It is a healthy space to focus on work and keep a balance between home chores and business.
Create an ideal workspace
Google lets engineers design their own office that maximizes their productivity. You may not be an employee of Google, but no one is stopping you from creating an ideal workplace either. All the extra space outside your house can help you create the best home office. You can adjust everything according to your taste and also hold work meetings in that location.
That’s it. You’ve now learned how to set up a home office in an external space. From heating and cooling to peripherals and internet, make sure you cover all of the bases in order to set up your business for success. This is the ideal time to be a part of the growing gig economy. Take your first step today and set up a fancy office that everyone would be impressed with.