01 May Tips for planning a Working from Home Garden
Are you working from home? Is your garden a help or a hindrance. Here are some thoughts on how your garden could make your working day a lot more pleasant.
What can a working from home garden provide?
- A place to clear your head and process ideas
- Offers valuable time away from screens and phones
- The ultimate in biophilic office design
- Potentially a beautiful outdoor workspace
- Somewhere for an all year round home office
- A place for children and pets to play safely while you work
Working from home doesn’t necessarily need a huge space. This little garden retreat has room for a desk and chair and provides a secluded place for writing or crafting.
I love that grasses are used to create privacy and I especially like the tiny chillout space on the patio. It’s not at all corporate and will probably add to the value of the property.
I’ve been working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown and I have to say, there’s a lot about it that I’ve enjoyed. I love the reduction in my fuel bills, I also like the reduced pressure to do things like iron shirts and shave. It’s great that I can be working AND cook dinner in my smoker. Plus, I’m spending more time with my children. They’ll never be 5 and 1 again and it’s been a privilege to be there as they are learning about life.
Not everything is coming up roses though. Working from home does have its challenges. I don’t have a home office and so everything needs to be stowed away at the end of each session lest little fingers replace my work with Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig. One ear is always tuned to what everyone else in the house is doing. And the close proximity to the snack cupboard is quite frankly, dangerous.
How Does a Garden Help With Working From Home?
I’ve found that my work space at home is slightly less conducive to good posture, clear thinking and brainstorming. Whenever I need to stretch out, gather my thoughts or phone a colleague, I find myself wandering out to the garden.
At the end of the working day, I used to unwind on the drive home. That’s not an option right now so instead I retreat to my pergola with a glass of something cold. That time is invaluable for reviewing the day and making plans for tomorrow.
Imagine if your journey to work looked like this. Beautiful pathway leading to the door – what a wonderful welcome for clients!
A pal of mine is lucky enough to have a garden office. He loves it because crossing the threshold allows him to switch his thoughts from “home stuff” to “work stuff. His children know that when Dad’s in his office he’s not available for play/refereeing squabbles/helping with homework. Finance wise – the office has paid for itself tenfold by replacing the cost of commuting and/or renting workspace.
Setting up a workspace in the garden
A garden building that would adapt well as a workspace. Careful landscaping ensures that the building doesn’t look out of place.
It’s all too easy to assume that a garden workplace needs to be an office. A workshop is just as achievable, as is a salon or a kitchen. No matter what your business needs, it’s wise to check planning regulations before starting the build.
The government planning portal has this to say about adapting your home to become your workspace.
If the answer to any of the following questions is ‘yes’, then permission will probably be needed:
- Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
- Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
- Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
- Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?
What features will your work from home garden need?
Garden design is all about function. My colleagues at Tapestry Design Studios think about functionality before they consider things like colour schemes and planting design. So when you are working from home, what do you need your garden to supply?
Shelter? Privacy? Seating for relaxation? Work surfaces? Storage? Electricity?
Unless your garden is to be purely for work, don’t forget to include “home” functions too – a bin store, linen line, hot tub, play area, dining area etc.
Your journey to and from your home workplace needs to be pleasurable and safe. Lighting can help – especially in winter when the sun sets before the end of the working day.
Start with the most important functions first. I’d put shelter and electricity as my first two considerations closely followed by WiFi and beautiful planting – serenity is important to me while I’m working. So is security – I really don’t want my home office broken into!
Next comes more practical stuff – how will you “travel” to work? Some kind of all-weather pathway is essential. You might opt for artificial grass, self-compacting gravel or some beautiful stone to reflect the age and style of your property. If you will be moving people and/products in and out of your garden – think about parking spaces, easy-open gates and suitable surfaces.
If you are converting an existing building into space for working from home, consider the landscaping. Having enough parking space for visitors is important but so is creating the right first impression of your business. This driveway is receiving a makeover from the Holland Landscapes Team which includes brick pavers, beautiful planting and carefully designed lighting.
Future-proofing your “working from home garden”
What will your situation be in five years-time? Do you think you’ll be spending more of your time working from home? It’s easy to make do and compromise for a relatively short time, but for the long term your workspace needs to be as efficient as possible.
So whilst a sheltered pergola will be a pleasant place to work on a summer’s day with your laptop powered via and extension lead – it’s not a practical setup for winter.
Whilst planning your workspace, incorporate the best features you possibly can and make sure they’re solidly built. No wobbly steps, no slippery decks, professionally installed electrics and beauty. I cannot stress enough the importance of beauty. It’s impossible to be productive in an ugly environment.
My ideal working from home garden
My current garden is too small to accommodate an office, a landscaping yard and a family so I’m thinking ahead a little bit here.
In my ideal working from home garden I would have
- A purpose built office building with insulation supplemented by a living green roof.
- A lovely airy space with doors and windows that let in the sounds and scents of summer
- Excellent lighting, both inside and outside the garden
- Access from the street so that no-one needs to trail through the house for business meetings – it’s important to keep home and work separate!
- A garden design that screens all of the work stuff from the house – who wants to spend their weekends staring at their workplace?
- Chill out space – somewhere to enjoy a coffee with clients or to put my thoughts in order before going home to the family
- Family and entertaining space – I don’t want work to dominate my life. If COVID-19 has taught me anything at all, it’s that work is not the be-all and end-all
Everybody’s situation is of course different. But I truly believe that having a little bit of outdoor space has been truly beneficial in these strange times. Lockdown will continue for a while yet, but when we are finally “allowed out”, I think I will be continuing to value the garden. Both here, whilst working from home and at the office where the outdoor space is definitely going to get a makeover.
Do you see yourself working from home more often in future? Why not get in touch with Paul at Holland Landscapes to see how landscaping your garden could improve your workspace. You might be surprised at how favourably it compares to the cost of buying a railway season ticket every year.