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The Garden Office Revolution

Case study of two homeworking public sector workers


The growth in home-based working in the UK covers a wide range of spaces in which people work: from being hunched over the kitchen table with a laptop through to purpose-built live/work accommodation.

One increasingly popular method of working from home is to have a garden office.  It appeals both to self-employed people running their own business and to employees enabled by their companies to work from home.

The advantages are the same as for for home working generally - to get more done, to cut the cost of commuting, have an improved work-life balance and to reduce the cost of having a completely separate place to work.

The advantages of having the homeworking space in the garden rather than inside the home are basically threefold:

  • to have a bit more space to work, and possibly accommodate other colleagues
  • to reduce distractions arising from the domestic environment when you want to work
  • to have a more professional environment in which to receive visitors and hold meetings.

Case study - a garden office for two

A Senior Civil Servant and a Local Government Officer have found that having a garden office is the best solution. The office built in their garden has increased their productivity as employees, given them the flexible work/life balance they sought, and given their employers opportunities to make efficiency savings in central office costs.

Both Tony Redpath and his wife Katy Willison work in the public sector in central London but live in the suburbs near Wimbledon. Katy is a Senior Civil Servant, while Tony is a Senior Local Government Officer for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. They have two children, a daughter aged four and a young son of 10 months.

Expanding without moving

It was the arrival of the second child which put a squeeze on the household space, and made both Tony and Katy decide that something had to change. As Tony says, they are “fussy” about the types of houses they like, and really enjoy both their existing home and the area it is in. Before their son was born they had a spare room in the house which they used as an office. However with two children they wanted to turn that space over to the kids.

After going to view bigger houses on sale, and analysing not only the costs but the aggravation and stress of moving, Tony and Katy decided that the best option was to upgrade their existing house by adding a personal office in the garden. They also felt that the costs of buying a personal office could be offset by the increased asset value it would give their property.

The solution they chose was a Henley Office, which was built in a day complete with all the fittings.

Improves productivity

Their garden office has proved itself to be a much better working environment than being in the house, and even than their employers’ main offices. Not only does it avoid background noise from the children and other domestic distractions, it also feels much more conducive to work.

According to Tony, he is much more productive in his new workspace:

“Now I have a garden office I feel that my productivity has significantly increased. These days if I have a project to complete I actually prefer to work from my garden office  than from my employer’s premises, as I get much more done from an environment that is so conducive to concentration. All this, and it looks great in the garden as well.”

Both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Central Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have policies to support the growth of flexible working, and will provide equipment from computers to telephone lines for people who choose to work from home.

Both appear to have recognised the advantages of this for staff recruitment and retention, and are responding to employees who are getting more demanding about finding the work/life balance which suits their other commitments as well.

According to Nick Hopewell Smith of Henley Offices, garden offices should appeal to both employers and employees:

"Employers who are concerned about employees seeking home-based working because of family/work-life balance criteria are reassured that there is a dedicated space where interruptions and temptations are kept to a minimum. With proven solutions like ours, large organisations with stringent health and safety standards have no need to conduct a pre-installation check of the home, since the size, construction and security features of the Henley are 'known' to their facilities management people.

"Employees who are resistant to home-working are frequently concerned at their ability to concentrate on work within their own domestic environment, while partners and other family members frequently resent the intrusion of work within the family living space. Garden offices get around these problems".

 

 

A Flexibility
case study

There's a quiet revolution going on amongst the UK's 4 million homeworkers. Perhaps it's more evident form satellite photographs than from the street, but there are outbuildings popping up across suburbia and rural England as more people reduce their commute time to a 10 second trot across the garden.

Here we present a case study of two public sector employees, Tony Redpath and Katy Willison, who are finding both greater productivity and tranquillity in their garden office.

The solution they selected is from Henley Offices, who provide largely prefabricated buildings that are assembled and fitted on site.  Offices cost from £6,000.

For further details contact Nick Hopewell Smith, Tel: 0870 240 7490 or check out the website at www.henleyoffices.com

 

 

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