A Backyard Office Now
How a Shed Reimagines Working from Home
The Kelley household is a bit like Times Square these days. There are screens everywhere, almost always on and constantly making noise. With a home in suburban Columbus, Ohio, the Kelleys are a home of two working parents—an attorney and engineer—and two school-aged boys. Since March, their offices have been closed and their boys have been attending school virtually.
“Every day is a sensory overload,” said Martina Kelley. “My husband and I are on video meetings most of the day, working from home. And the kids are constantly on one device or another, whether through their school or playing video games during break times.”
Their kitchen table is now a workspace, with two computers, file folders, pens, coffee mugs, and drawings of the kids’ pet turtle. It was a necessary move when COVID-19 hit, but the setup has taken its toll on everyone in the family.
Families across the world are in similar situations. Even people without kids are tired of working, sleeping, and eating in the same place every day. It is no surprise that backyard offices have started popping up as the home improvement trend of the year.
Create a Space Built for You
The most important first step is to evaluate your needs, starting with the size that you would need. A shed from JDM Structures will last for many years, so you want this addition to your yard big enough to grow with you. What is the smallest office space to consider? A 10’ x 10’ Aurora is a great starting spot. With enough room for a desk, chair, and a file cabinet, this size is a cozy retreat for one.
From there, build up based on your needs. Every additional 6’-8’ feet allow you to bring another station into your space. For example, a 12’ x 16’ Brookside would provide enough room for two desks or a couch, desk, and flat-screen television for tracking stocks. Or turn an entire wall into a whiteboard with a paintable dry erase board from someone like IdeaPaint. The Brookside model also has a covered porch, which is ideal for those rainy mornings when you are unlocking the office for the day.
Sheds and Technology
Almost everyone needs two things in their backyard office: electricity and connectivity. This is a surprisingly easy addition. A generator can get you up and running quickly with electricity, which, paired with a strong WiFi extender, can have you up to speed in less than a day. If your backyard office is too far to connect to your home’s WiFi signal, you can go through your wireless carrier for a mobile hotspot. Carriers like Verizon and Sprint offer hotspots that go anywhere on their grids.
We also love the idea of accessing power with solar panels on your roof. Sources show that at least 4 hours of peak sunlight are needed to power a home, which is more than enough for a shed. Take a look at the Solar House that JDM built in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Of course, you can always hardwire your backyard office for power and ethernet connections for optimum performance. Always get advice and assistance from professionals when working with electrical installations. And if you use a generator, never operate one inside your structure.
Outfitting the Inside
The best part of creating your own backyard office is that you have a blank slate to work with! Drywall, flooring, paint colors, and décor are all at your command. If you need help choosing colors, the research has been done for you. Is productivity your goal? Try a modern blue or teal to keep you focused. If creativity is needed for your work, consider a pastel yellow. Here are the top home office colors in 2020 by Elle Décor.
Temperature and lighting are important to your productivity. Window selection should be your first step in this process. Nothing keeps your work and life in balance better than lots of natural light. Make sure you are putting in as many windows as possible, and if you need privacy as well, consider the clerestory windows of a Somerset. If you need to keep it cooler in the summer, a ceiling fan is a great aesthetic option and a reason to choose a higher-pitched roof, like the Skyline has. For the winter, a 1,500- watt space heater can comfortably heat 150 square feet.
Shelves are another addition to any home office. The JDM ShedBuilder allows you to place shelves on every wall with enough room and at stackable heights of 18”, 34”, and 54”. And since the ShedBuilder is equipped with Smart Placement technology, you won’t accidentally order a shelf where it can’t fit!
No matter how you design it, it’s important to have a proper ventilation system installed to keep you safe while you work. Your salesperson will help you in determining what you need and how to get it setup. Be sure to also look into getting a vented space heater to stay toasty all winter long.
The Cost of a Backyard Office
It is difficult to predict how long the working from home trend will last. Since it was starting to happen in companies even before COVID-19, we expect that many people will be working from home for years to come. The time is now to determine if building a backyard office is a wise financial decision.
First, bring it up with your employer. A company-sponsored backyard office is a reasonable request, depending on your type of work. If you are an owner of the company or self-employed, the IRS has already clear rules around home workspaces and deductions, with examples that specifically include using a shed.
Whether or not these scenarios apply to you, the financing options offered by JDM Structures make a new shed an easy decision. A 10’ x 12’ Aurora, for example, is available through JDM’s Rent To Own for less than $200/month, and an 84-month financing option can come in as low as $80/month.
The decision to put in a backyard office, however, comes down to how much more work you can accomplish with a little peace and quiet. And the idea of a two-minute commute in your flip flops certainly has a wonderful appeal as well.
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