What Is a Backyard Office?

Cynde Gregory

A backyard office is the perfect escape for anyone with a home business. Even busy parents who need a quiet corner to handle bills and correspondence will find that a serene escape tucked away from the hubbub in the house allows them to get the job done efficiently. It can be as simple as a converted shed with a desk and a Do Not Disturb sign or as complex as an award-winning architectural design.

Backyard offices may need a space heater.
Backyard offices may need a space heater.

The primary job of a backyard office is to offer solitude. In a world of wireless everything, anyone who needs a few minutes alone with a stack of papers can grab the laptop and the cell phone and head out back. As long as the electronics go back inside when the user does, there’s minimal need of security. A sturdy padlock costs little, though, and keeps neighbor kids or the user’s own out of the hideaway.

Padlocks may be used to secure a backyard office.
Padlocks may be used to secure a backyard office.

It may be necessary to add a few windows or a skylight to let in enough light to work. Windows on all sides will permit ventilation on hot days. A cross breeze can cool things off enough for comfort.

Most people who expect to spend a fair amount of time in the backyard office may want a few more upgrades. Bringing in electrical power means the office can be used after dark. It will also permit a fan or even a small air conditioner for hot days as well as a space heater for cooler ones.

Some users might want or require running water. This is not an inexpensive addition, but anyone who intends to spend all day every day working in a home office setup will appreciate a mini kitchen as well as a bathroom. Otherwise, they’ll have to lock up and go into the house from time to time, and the potential for getting distracted by a little housecleaning or other activity is great.

If the backyard office contains a desktop computer, larger printer, fax machine, or other valuable electronics, the user should consider installing a security alarm as well as lights and a heavy-duty lock. This not only helps deter would-be thieves, but it gives the owner a sense of security that allows a good night’s sleep. Architects, writers, and people with other home-based businesses can’t afford to have their work stolen or destroyed.

Some backyard office owners put effort into making the retreat a thing of beauty as well as of use. Adding curtains, attractive fixtures, and hardwood floors or an Oriental carpet doesn’t cost much and can make the office feel like home. A winding path that leads from the house to the office makes going to work feel more like fun. Putting in a pocket garden or an arbor by the door is a welcoming touch as well.

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