More and more people are working remotely these days, which has become a boom for the home office industry.
As a result, workspaces have become a new niche market in the home remodeling industry, and you can even find prefabricated office sheds for sale all over the internet.
But, if you want to save a ton of money, putting your own office shed together isn’t all that difficult a task.
Defining the Office Shed
Despite the term, most office sheds are not office spaces created out of a simple shed in the yard, though that may be what started the trend.
An office shed is usually two to three times larger than your standard backyard shed and has a lot more to it than just four walls and a roof.
An office shed will often have windows, a standard door, power, lighting, and some form of heat at a minimum. Depending on where you live, cooling might also be a prerequisite for comfortable use of the space.
Popularity of Office Sheds
While home offices have been around for a long time, the office shed is a relatively new concept fueled by the 2020 pandemic.
As corporations scrambled to find ways to continue producing services and goods in the face of mandatory lockdowns, working remotely went from a rare perk to the new normal.
While the change came about quickly, it was far from smooth. People with children discovered the impossibility of keeping them quiet during virtual meetings, and office brass began to notice a level of distraction they’d never seen before.
In short, the standard home office wasn’t cutting it either for employers or their employees.
In an effort to formalize the separation between home and work, some remote workers moved their home office out of the home and into their garages.
The move seemed to help and, with remote work apparently here to stay, the desire for a dedicated work building turned into a movement. Now, office sheds are a popular and perfectly acceptable answer to the distractions of working from home.
Office Shed Requirements
For an office shed to operate as needed, several minimum requirements must be met. We’ve listed them below for you, along with suggestions on how best to make them happen.
You want your office shed to be as comfortable as any normal office, but you don’t want to use a ton of energy getting it there.
That means using insulation and using it everywhere.
Insulate the walls, insulate the floor, and insulate the ceiling. Your goal is to have as close to zero heat loss as you can get.
When we say to insulate the floor, we mean to create an insulating layer between two layers of flooring, with the upper layer becoming your subfloor, which you can then surface with whatever material makes you happy.
Windows are actually optional, but some features should be included if you choose to put some in your office shed’s walls.
Double-hung windows would be your best option, so you can use them to maximize your airflow. With the top and bottom halves opened, you can let the cooler air in at the bottom and send the warmer air out the top.
Your windows should also have excellent insulating properties and block the more harmful rays from the sun.
Offices, by and large, use a lot of electricity. Even if you plan to use a laptop full time, you’re still going to want at least one outlet for your charging cord.
Running electrical wires to a new structure (or an old one that doesn’t currently have power) will necessitate a visit to your local government offices to secure a permit.
You should call ahead to find out what they require before you go. Some local jurisdictions will want a written plan/wiring diagram before they grant a permit.
It might be helpful to hire an electrician to design the plan for you, as they will be aware of the local building code and save you from multiple trips as your plans get denied over and over.
If you plan to power a full office’s needs, you’ll want at least one outlet per wall, overhead junctions for lighting, at least one switch to turn said lighting on and off, and a small breaker box for safety.
15 Amp circuits should suffice, but larger office equipment, like copiers and large printers, requires 20 Amp circuits.
Large pieces of office equipment also need to be on their own dedicated circuits, so make sure you wire your shed for everything you might use in the future. It’s far easier to add circuits now rather than after the shed is complete.
You should also have a ground spike installed to help smooth out the power in your office shed.
We’d recommend at least two separate circuits, more if your office shed is doubling as a workshop or you plan on using a refrigerator in there. Refrigerators tend to toss a lot of slop into your power lines, and computers aren’t fond of noisy grounds. So a dedicated circuit for your fridge is also a good idea.
Don’t skip out on the permitting and inspecting of your electrical work. If you do, and something happens, your insurer will laugh at your claim just before they cancel your entire homeowner’s policy.
Heat can be had from multiple sources. The simplest method is an electric space heater that uses a fan to push the heat throughout the shed.
If your office shed abuts your home, you can add to your household ducting and rout it into your office. Just make certain you know what you are doing before you start cutting holes into your home’s outer walls.
You should, at the very least, seek the advice of a professional before hooking your office up to your home’s HVAC system.
If you want to go old school, install a wood-burning stove in your office. Modern versions are well suited to the task of heating a small office shed.
Just ensure that you use a double-hulled pipe for the exhaust to protect against injury and overheating the ceiling or wall it passes through.
The stove should also rest on either a cement pad or flooring designed for the purpose. The last thing you want is to lose all your hard work to an errant ember.
Depending on where you live, cooling your office shed may be as important as having a heat source. Very little is less conducive to productive work than the torture of dripping with sweat.
A large ceiling fan can do wonders for an indoor space during a hot day and may be all you need. However, if you need something more, you can opt for the noisy but dependable window AC unit.
If noise is an issue, you can install a mini-split system. A mini-split system includes a compression unit outside that hooks up to multiple air handlers within a home or, in this case, a shed.
One air handler should be all you need. The bonus of a mini-split system is that the air handlers can come in heat pump form, providing cooling in the summer and heat in the winter.
Plus, they are about as noisy as a gentle breeze.
Niceties are those things that are nice to have but aren’t critical to the functioning of your office shed. But we’ll skip the usual office doodads since you already know what you want in that department.
One thing that you may not consider on your own (until that day when you wish you had one) is an Uninterruptable Power Supply or UPS for short.
Most people only think of them after they lose 12 hours of work to a popped breaker. A UPS can save you from that particular misery. If your power goes out, your UPS will take over and power essential equipment for anywhere from a few minutes up to half an hour, depending on the UPS.
The idea is that you will have enough time to save your work. They can be had for as little as $80, which is a small price to pay when weighed against a month of hating yourself for not hitting save often enough.
Creature comforts are essential for keeping to yourself during your workday. While getting yourself coffee in a normal office setting is a pleasant break from the task at hand, leaving your home office to go to your kitchen is a risky proposition.
Contact with your significant other or your children will pull you out of work mode in a hurry and make it harder to get back into the groove. Distractions of that level are not the same as chatting about the boss with Steve from HR while you make your coffee.
That’s why we recommend that you consider all the reasons you got up from your desk when you used to work at the home office and seek ways to satisfy those small needs within your office shed.
No, we aren’t saying you should spend fifteen grand installing a bathroom, but perhaps a small fridge and a personal coffee or tea maker will help to keep you on track throughout your day. After all, you’re doing all of this to avoid distractions in the first place. So don’t feel bad for making it easier on yourself.
But keep in mind that your office shed should be more office than sanctuary, though they are often both. You want it to be as comfortable as possible and at least as functional as your old office. But you don’t want to turn it into a playroom. Coffee? Sure. Pool table? Probably not.
The remote worker movement is a wonderful thing. Your new office shed will return hours with you that your family used to lose to your commute. And you’ll enjoy better production, more comfort, and a happier family. It doesn’t get more win-win than that.