Like many other people, I had my first experience of working from home around the middle of the last decade. Broadband access was improving rapidly and gave me the opportunity to take advantage of a flexible and convenient alternative to travelling to the office on the odd occasion. I never imagined that I’d move away from the office environment on a regular basis, but soon enough I was spending the majority of my time at home. I did initially miss the camaraderie, but I started to find that on the days when I did go to into the office I was less productive; I seemed to have lost the ability to tune out the hubbub going on around me during phone calls or when trying to concentrate on an important piece of work.
Whilst home was generally quieter and a place where I found I could concentrate more easily, I missed the orderly nature of the office. I didn’t have a dedicated home office as there wasn’t a spare room that I could commandeer full time; my family had already laid claim to every corner of the house! Keeping my paperwork out of reach of the kids was a battle, but the real problem was switching off from work at the end of the day. I couldn’t resist the temptation to check my email after hours, which got me into hot water with my wife who rightly complained that my work was intruding into our family life. It hadn’t been like this when I used to commute every day. By this time, quite a few of my friends and colleagues had also taken to working from home so I asked if they experienced similar problems, and how they dealt with them. One friend told me that she marked the beginning and end of her working day by taking her dog for a walk. The idea intrigued me, but I didn’t have a dog…
So, I got to thinking about what I could build into my routine that would replace my daily commute and separate my work life from my home life short of moving back to an office-based job. That’s when I hit on the idea of a garden office. This would solve all my problems! It would give me the space to store all of my work stuff; I wouldn’t be under my wife’s feet when she’s busy in the house, or snapping at the children if they got too boisterous and distracted me.
My wife readily agreed and soon enough the garden office was ready to use and it proved to be the solution that we’d all been hoping for. My commute was now just a short “walk to work” down the garden but it had the desired effect. Psychologically, I was now able to keep the two parts of my life separate. I could concentrate fully on my work without being interrupted by the doorbell or the activities of the house, and at the end of the day I could close the door and “walk back home” with the satisfaction of having done a good day’s work and switch off from work until the next morning. It gave me back my work-life balance and has benefited my family life enormously. I’ve been in my garden office for six years now and have no plans to move out!