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Blog / Working at home

Why you need a garden office

06 October 2020

Investing in a garden office saves you from the daily grind of commuting to work. For those who run their own businesses, it means you’ll no longer need to rent office space, so it’s more cost-efficient too. But the benefits don’t stop there. Research shows that working from home helps you to be more productive, to achieve a better work-life balance, and even makes you happier. Here’s why you need a garden office...

Lessons about flexible working from the Dutch

Man sitting at a desk covered in tattoos
In the Netherlands, three times more people work from home than in the UK
Image: Rawpixel.com

According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, just under 5% of the UK working population were working from home in 2019, one of the lowest rates in the whole of the EU. This was well behind the top-ranked Netherlands where the rate of remote working is three times higher than here in the UK.

Coronavirus restrictions have forced an unprecedented change in the UK’s working culture, effectively ending the tradition of presenteeism that had persisted here since the days of the industrial revolution. Because many Dutch firms already support flexible working, the infrastructure there was well set up to facilitate the change, but British firms are learning fast.

In an interview with the BBC, Barclays boss, Jes Staley, commented recently that "there will be a long-term adjustment to our location strategy." He went on to say that "the notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of the past." 

For those that miss the sociability of an office, the Dutch have repurposed public libraries into places people can work, and coffee shops support remote workers. 98% of the country enjoys high-speed broadband, and not only do many people in the Netherlands love working from home, but the environment benefits from lower transport pollution and companies reap the rewards in lower office costs. 

It’s great for entrepreneurs too, with many of Holland’s 1.1 million self-employed setting up their own businesses from the kitchen table or home office. It’s time we in the UK followed suit. But if you’re going to work from home, you need somewhere to do it.

The personal benefits of buying a garden office

Person working outdoors on a laptop
Garden offices help you keep your home and work life separate
Image: Alex Brylov

We like working from home. At the height of the lockdown, a survey in the US reported that 59% of workers said they would like to make the shift to remote working permanent. It’s easy to see why: You have no commute, fewer interruptions, and it makes the logistics of combining work and family life so much easier.

We’re more productive when we work from home too. A study of 16,000 workers at Chinese travel firm CTrip found that home working led to a 13% increase in productivity as well as better reported wellbeing. When the firm extended the offer to all its workers, it found that about half took it up, leading to an even higher productivity gain of 22%. The more flexible the workplace, the more productive its staff.

A garden office offers the best of home working, with the discipline and professionalism of the office; you work there, you can meet your clients there, you keep your home and work life separate within the same space; and at the same time you benefit from versatile additional accommodation.

Choose to keep your garden office for work only or allow it to double as a games room for the kids at the weekend. Devote part of your home office to a gym space or use it as occasional overnight accommodation for guests. A garden room is a fantastic addition to your home.

What is a garden room office?

The Rufford Insulated Garden Room
An insulated garden room offers all year round comfort
Image: The Rufford Insulated Garden Room (5m x 3m) from Waltons

If your conception of a garden office is a glorified shed lacking any kind of insulation and smelling faintly of creosote and last year’s onions, think again. A modern garden office is perhaps better termed a ‘garden room’. This really is the Rolls Royce of outbuildings – built to keep you warm and comfortable all year round, your equipment secure, and to last a long time.

An insulated garden room from Waltons is made from 72mm double skinned panels with shiplap timber on the outside, special multi-layer insulation in the middle, and attractive tongue and groove timber on the inside. Strong bearers support the floor; you get double glazed windows as standard; proper mortice locks for security; and the roof is made from sheet board and interlocking tongue and groove timber topped with very hard wearing rubberised EPDM roofing.

As you might expect, an insulated garden room from Waltons is also fully customisable, giving you the flexibility you need to create the ideal home environment for your business and family requirements. What’s more, it’s professionally installed as part of the purchase price.

Are you looking for a more budget-friendly option? We recommend you take a look at our affordable range of Waltons log cabins. Made from interlocking tongue and groove spruce log boards, you get to choose from four timber thicknesses, allowing you to select the garden office that best fits your budget.

Whether you decide to invest in an insulated garden room or a log cabin, rest assured that all our garden buildings are covered by the same cast-iron 10 year anti-rot guarantee. All you need to do is treat your timber building to an annual coating of wood preservative and you can be sure that your investment will continue to be an asset for your business and family, long after you’ve written it off under depreciation.

Are there tax benefits to buying a garden office?

Garden office interior shot
You can claim tax relief on the fixtures and fittings of your new garden office
Image: Photographee.eu

The cost savings of buying a home office to put in the garden can be substantial, and not just in terms of the amount you’ll save on office rental and service charges. Depending on your employment status, and whether or not you run a limited company, there may be tax advantages to working this way.

While you can certainly buy your home office through your business, because it’s classed as a structure, you can’t claim tax relief on the building itself. However, you can claim relief on the fixtures and fittings needed to equip it. The running costs of your new office, including repair and maintenance, are also tax deductible. 

If you’re VAT registered, you may be able to claim the VAT back on the purchase cost of your office. If you use the building for personal, as-well-as business use, it shouldn’t be eligible for capital gains tax if you decide to sell your home, although you will have to adjust your tax return to account for ‘benefits in kind’ relating to the non-business use.

Most councils don’t charge business rates on home offices, but it’s always wise to check first to make sure you don’t receive an unexpected bill. For a full assessment of the tax implications of working from home, do consult your accountant who should be able to advise you.

Will I need planning permission to build a garden office?

3m x 3m Insulated Garden Room from Waltons
The flat roof of this garden room is 2.4m high to comply with permitted development rules
Image: 3m x 3m Insulated Garden Room from Waltons

Here at Waltons, we design our insulated garden rooms and log cabins with planning regulations very much in mind. It’s highly unlikely therefore that you’ll need to apply for planning permission, although you should make sure that the footprint of your preferred building is less than half your available outside space.

There are specific rules for those who live in listed properties or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If in doubt, you should check with your local planning officer that your build complies with permitted development regulations. Take a quick look at our planning permission infographic for a quick summary of the rules. 

Be part of the work from home revolution. Research shows it’s good for you, good for the environment, your family, your productivity, and more. And now, with a garden room office from Waltons, you really can enjoy all the comfort, connectivity, and efficiency of the office while surrounded by the natural beauty of your garden. Need more advice? Read our Insulated Garden Room Buying Guide for more information. 

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