More home workers open the door to an idyllic garden office in 2017

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Andrew Elskamp, Clevedon. ©Barbara Evripidou2017

A Deeside garden rooms firm is reporting an increase in the number of people wanting to shun the daily commute to work by creating their own garden office space.

Andrew Elskamp, Clevedon. ©Barbara Evripidou2017

Since the start of the year, Rubicon Garden Rooms has been inundated with enquiries for its bespoke garden rooms for home work solutions, mirroring a national trend which has seen the number of homeworkers in the UK soar beyond 4m.

There are now record levels of Britons choosing to achieve a better work and life balance by working from home and employers are becoming more and more flexible in their approach to enhance staff retention and create a happier workforce.

Along with technological advances and faster broadband, an increasingly mobile workforce has opened the door to greater flexibility in working conditions and more and more employees are now working from home all or part of the week to meet childcare responsibilities and cut down on commuting costs.

.Meanwhile, the rise of the gig economy – the term used to describe those workers who are professional freelancers or are on short-term contracts as opposed to permanent jobs – has made homeworking a viable option.

Installing a garden office has become a popular choice for employees wanting the flexibility of home working but enjoy the feeling of going to a designated space to work.

One of those who took the leap last year from rented office accommodation to a fully functional garden office is Stuart Haynes, a systems accountant for a global banking firm.

His 5m by 4m office in the garden of his home in Moel Y Crio overlooks the spectacular sites of Moel Famau which never fail to motivate him.

“I’ve always worked from a company’s office but in the last five years with faster broadband and employers becoming increasingly more flexible I’ve been able to work from home,” said the 44-year-old, who lives with his wife and two children, aged four and six months.

“I manage a team across Europe but they really don’t care where I am – at the end of the day I could be in Manchester or in a garden in North Wales!

“I’ve only started working from home for the past two years. It’s been a gradual move from just the odd Friday at home to two days in the week and now to being almost exclusively at home.

“The garden room is an office during the day but has a home cinema for the evenings and is very much a ‘man cave’. I have a four-year-old and six-month old and I love them to bits but it’s nice to have somewhere that’s neat and tidy.

“We have beautiful views and it’s nice to be on the phone one minute to someone in New York and then someone in Brussels and look out of my office and see Moel Famau and a few sheep knocking about.

“The way technology has changed and its impact on video conferencing means I can still feel like part of a global team while still being in North Wales.”

The dad-of-two was highly impressed by the professionalism of Rubicon in transforming his vision into reality.

“We’re right at the top of a hill and we get battered by strong gusts and I had some doubts whether the structure would be strong enough but it’s solid as a rock. I would recommend Rubicon to everyone. In fact, we’re hoping to move to Llandudno and so I will be on the phone again no doubt for a new one in my next home.”

Independent financial advisor Andrew Elskamp, who works under Station Associates Ltd, approached Rubicon Garden Rooms about a garden office solution for his home in Clevedon, Bristol, and now enjoys a 30-second commute to work.

“I was previously renting office space nearby but I was finding I was spending less and less time there and more working from my lounge so I decided in the end that I wasn’t going to pay rent for no reason,” said the 48-year-old.

“We had space at the end of the garden which was basically a dumping ground and so now I have a 5.4m by 2.7m garden office.

“It was a brilliant move – I should have done it ages ago. Renting office space was a complete waste of money. My new office is warm and bright and it’s pretty sound-proof. My stroll to work in the morning is lovely and it only takes me 30 seconds.

“My wife and I have four-year-old twins and four other children between us. Working from home means that when my wife is working I can fit around the childcare and we also have a dog so I can take the dog for a walk as well during the day.

“I’ve been self-employed for around 15 years but working from home for me is a major benefit. Having an office in the garden rather than having to travel means if I forget a file or something I can just nip down the end of the garden in the evening.

“It’s the best decision I ever made.”

Andrew chose Rubicon because of the composite cladding used in its garden rooms. The cladding is eco-friendly as it is 87 percent recycled content using wood that’s sourced through sustainable forestry. The result is a building with the natural look of timber, which is UV stable, colour fast, and handles extreme hot and cold conditions with excellent weathering properties.

“The MD John Lyon, from Rubicon, came on-site and they built it all within two weeks,” said Andrew.

“The job they did was first class and I would definitely recommend them. It’s an asset to the house and gives you that extra bit of space.”

Rubicon’s managing director John Lyons said: “Since the start of January, we’ve received an increasing number of enquiries from people who want to transform their New Year resolutions into reality and achieve that all important work life balance.

“Time is precious and the demands of modern working often disrupt sacred family time with long commutes and overtime. A bespoke garden office resolves many of these problems and still gives employees the professional space they need to maintain their careers effectively in the idyllic environment of their own back garden.

“Few people who’ve taken the bold leap to work from home have regretted it and our previous customers have certainly been impressed by the results, with many reporting an increase in productivity and motivation in their new green surroundings.”

Rubicon Garden Rooms was founded in 2014 by John Lyon and now employs nine-full time staff. It recently doubled the size of its factory to around 6,000 square feet.

The company is based at Deeside Enterprise Park, Shotton, and recently opened a new showroom to display its wide range of zero-maintenance garden rooms, including different types of exterior finish.

There is growing interest from business owners, consultants and home-workers for garden offices that can be used year round, well insulated (using Kingspan products) and fully-networked to provide fast connections to the internet.

Several of the home offices provide employment space for more than one worker. The initial investment can be recouped, on average, in less than two years, given the saving on commercial rents and rates, and is also business tax deductible.

Running costs are average £100 per year for a 12 square metre garden room – much lower than many business units.