Turn­ing your shed into the per­fect home of­fice

What could be bet­ter than cre­at­ing a “shof­fice” by your home and avoid­ing the daily com­mute? Sally Coulthard finds the best ways to achieve it.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - FRONT PAGE -

WORK­ING from home has its ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits but it can be a tricky bal­anc­ing act.

Chil­dren, chores and the de­mands of daily liv­ing can be very dis­tract­ing, so it’s vi­tal to cre­ate a place where you can con­cen­trate.

What bet­ter place to be pro­duc­tive than in the peace and quiet of a shed at the bot­tom of the gar­den? No crush­ing com­mute. Just a few paces down the gar­den path and you’re there. It’s no won­der that one in 10 peo­ple now work full-time from home, many choos­ing to spend their work­ing day tucked away in a ‘shof­fice’. But what makes the per­fect shed of­fice?

De­cide who will use it and when. Do you want the space to have a dual func­tion – per­haps dou­bling up as a guest room – or would you pre­fer to keep work and home life com­pletely sep­a­rate?

Are the chil­dren al­lowed to use the of­fice for home­work and study, or is the shed for your eyes only? Treat your home of­fice as se­ri­ously as you would a nor­mal of­fice – you’ll need to cre­ate a space that al­lows you to be a pro­duc­tive and fo­cused worker.

It’s a del­i­cate bal­ance –you need to feel sep­a­rate from the house – both phys­i­cally and men­tally –to pre­vent you be­ing dis­tracted by the hus­tle and bus­tle of do­mes­tic life.

For se­cu­rity rea­sons, how­ever, it’s im­por­tant to keep an eye on the shed when it’s not in use. Of all the shed spa­ces, home of­fices con­tain the most valu­able equip­ment – the fur­ther away your shed is from your house the more at­trac­tive it will be to bur­glars.

Check that your house­hold pol­icy cov­ers any com­puter equip­ment kept in the shed.

A shed of­fice ide­ally needs to be self-con­tained. Con­sider a kitch­enette as well as a toi­let and hand-wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties – end­less trips back to the main house will eat into your work time and make it al­most im­pos­si­ble to have any fruit­ful pe­ri­ods of work.

You will also need to be con­tactable. A phone line and in­ter­net fa­cil­i­ties are an ab­so­lute must for a shed of­fice, even if it’s sim­ply an ex­ten­sion from your main home. Tem­per­a­ture and pro­duc­tiv­ity go hand in hand. For of­fice work, which in­volves long pe­ri­ods of be­ing deskbound, the ideal is a con­stant back­ground tem­per­a­ture of no less than 16°C (61°F) – any lower than that and you’ll feel un­com­fort­able if you sit still for any sig­nif­i­cant pe­riod of time.

Ad­e­quate stor­age is ab­so­lutely vi­tal for a home of­fice. Clut­ter is not only un­sightly, but it also se­ri­ously af­fects your work per­for­mance. A home of­fice needs to be as or­gan­ised and ef­fi­cient as any com­mer­cial of­fice, so it’s im­por­tant to have a place for ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­thing in its place.

Above all, you need to keep it a pro­fes­sional space. Don’t let clut­ter win and try not to use your shed of­fice for stor­ing other things.

Long lengths of elec­tric cable and over­loaded sock­ets are a health and safety haz­ard for your shed of­fice.

Make sure you’ve got all the plugs, phone out­lets and switches you need, at the cor­rect height and lo­ca­tion. For a re­ally neat job, use dec­o­ra­tive truck­ing or con­duit to hide the ca­bles.

In terms of light­ing, a home of­fice needs a com­bi­na­tion of am­bi­ent and task light­ing. To cre­ate am­bi­ent light­ing, up­lighters are a bet­ter choice than a cen­tral pen­dant light. This is be­cause they fo­cus the light up­wards, to­wards the walls and ceil­ings, and won’t cre­ate an­noy­ing shad­ows or re­flec­tions on your workspace.

You’ll also need a fo­cused task light to pre­vent eye­strain – an ad­justable desk lamp or clip-on spot­light is ideal. All too of­ten, home of­fices are fur­nished with kitchen chairs and oc­ca­sional ta­bles. These will be crip­pling to work at.

Buy the best of­fice chair you can af­ford – one that of­fers flex­i­bil­ity and back sup­port – and a desk which works with the height of the chair.

Most of­fice desks are around 70-75cm high. If pos­si­ble, ar­range your work area in an L or U shape – this helps to keep all the es­sen­tials within easy reach.

As for dec­o­ra­tion, choose a de­sign scheme which works for you.

Colours can have a pro­found ef­fect on mood and pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els, so pick a shade which makes you feel calm but alert.

Colour psy­chol­o­gists have their pre­ferred choices for of­fice spa­ces and of­ten sug­gest greens and blues, both of which are sooth­ing and bal­anc­ing, but it de­pends on what you want from your work space.

Ex­per­i­ment with how a colour makes you feel.

FIT FOR PUR­POSE: The house is a fam­ily home with a host of sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a gym, swim­ming pool and ten­nis court.

HOME COM­FORTS: Ev­ery­one loves a chic shed. This one is dec­o­rated with bunting balls from www.pe­tra­boase.com

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