Step into my office #2: A peek into one freelancer’s workspace
‘Shedworking’ is on the increase. UK purchases of state-of-the-art ‘garden rooms’ are up – with some suppliers reporting a growth in sales of up to 40% over the last two to three years.
This month, we talk to Maggie Johnson, Director and Client Liaison at Essex-based Executive Virtual Services (EVS), who tells us about the ‘his and hers’ shed offices at her home…
How did you get into the habit of working from a shed?
When I decided to run my own business, supporting other businesses as a freelance Virtual Assistant (VA), I always dreamt of having a space of my own – my very own office – to separate home and work. It was, and still is, a driving force behind my hard work. The space I work in was funded by me, by my own efforts – and is testament to the success of my business.
I started Executive Virtual Services at the kitchen table in 2011; eventually moving this to the box bedroom. I then went on to rent a shared office for a year, but the desire to have ‘a room of my own’ was always the end goal.
In April 2015 my ‘shed office’ was built, and it has made a huge impact on the growth and success of my business ever since. Working in this way gives me the space and time to develop, without the distractions of everyday life.
I have a team of VAs working with me now (sometimes from my office), and clients can come and meet with me here too.
Two years ago, after seeing the benefits of having an ‘shoffice’, my husband had his own installed in the garden! He works as a freelance accountant, and is also my partner here at EVS.
Basically, garden offices allow us to run our own businesses from home, gives us the flexibility to look after our son, and it gives us back the very precious commodity of time.
What do you particularly like about working in this way?
My garden office allows me to separate home and business. I close the door here and the day ends, which is always a challenge if you’re self-employed.
It’s a space I can retreat to, for some ‘me’ time too. Our son also loves it here. He has his own desk and space to do his homework. The flat screen TV and Bose Surround Sound is also an attraction – we have had many a fun film night!
Working from home also allows us to have a dog, and my office buddy Barney loves spending days with me here.
Oh, and my ‘Cornish Cabin’ (as it’s affectionately known) has seen a few wee parties too ?. Having a sofa bed in there has allowed guests to stay over – and although the odd midnight sprint back indoors for a loo break is needed, it does make for a cosy night stay!
Are there any drawbacks of working in this way?
The office can sometimes take a while to heat up on very cold days, but when the oil burner has kicked in, it’s fine.
I think, on reflection, I would have opted for a darker floor board than the white washboard effect. It looks nice, but it can be a little impractical on a muddy rainy day.
Other than that, there are no drawbacks. Working from my garden office is the best way to work, for me, and I’d highly recommend it to any freelancer who is struggling to separate work and life outside of the office. It’s fun too – if you see it as more than just a place to work!
How have you kitted it out – any snazzy features?
Technology is top priority in my office – it’s essential for running a virtual business – so the shoffice has its own WiFi set up, BOSE surround sound, a flat screen TV, oh and the all essential heating and insulation, so it is nice and toasty in the winter. (Gosh! I am falling in love with my office all over again just thinking about it!)
It has other uses as well – so it’s earning its keep. It easily converts into a mini gym (a quick 30-minute workout, and I’m focused again and ‘back in the room’).
How much did you spend to build it and furnish it?
Delivering and installing the office came to approximately £12k. Add the technology aspects and all the furnishings, and the total build came to £20K. There’s no doubt it will continue to evolve – it’s an ongoing project for me!