With the work-at-home lifestyle likely here to stay, people are taking things outdoors, creating spaces meant for privacy and comfort.

By Tim Hornyak

In the Before Time of offices, there was front and back. Now it is home and garden.

When Priscilla Fernandes and her husband, Carl Ainsworth, moved into a new house in London in 2019, they planned on replacing its dilapidated shed with something prefabricated. Then came an idea: Replace the shed with an office.

Six months of designing and building later, with help from a neighboring joiner, their shed office was complete. It has a folding desk attached to the wall, a workbench for standing, two windows looking out on their garden in Bromley, electricity and an internet connection. There is an easy chair and, hanging on the wall, a bicycle.

“We needed separate spaces to work due to being in virtual meetings all day — we tried working at the dining room table together, and it just was not working,” said Ms. Fernandes, an architect who designs community buildings. “We have work-life separation between the house and the garden office. And it’s a space that both of us can use whenever required, say if we needed complete isolation for giving a presentation or concentrating on some work.”

More than a year and a half into the pandemic, working from home seems like an increasingly permanent proposition. Nearly 80 percent of business leaders and 70 percent of the general public said people would likely never return to offices at the rate they did before the coronavirus, according to a recent YouGov poll in Britain done for the BBC.

This view has accelerated the evolution of workplaces. Many people who have the luxury of working from home are finding, like Ms. Fernandes, that the kitchen or dining room is not cutting it. They have repurposed other rooms or nooks, tricking out closets into “cloffices.” But that still leaves them at the mercy of children, pets and other distractions. Garden offices seem like the perfect solution. Aside from increasing one’s sense of well-being, they can add value to a property.

Ross Hogston, director of the garden room maker Oakston Solutions in Hampshire south of London, said inquiries and bookings were up 40 percent during the pandemic. The average amount customers spend has risen to around $30,000 from roughly $20,500, with some spending as much as $82,000.

“Demand has slowed as people go back to the office in the U.K., but interest is still high,” said Alison Mansell, a British-based garden office consultant active on Pinterest under the name Shed Guru. “Demand, lead times and designs all vary between companies who sell ‘modular’ buildings that can be customized, versus small ‘boutique’ companies who offer completely bespoke options. There are plenty of both.”

Read the rest of the article at The New York Times.