Show Us Your Shed

Show Us Your Shed

If you haven’t ever worked in a shed, you haven’t lived … or suffered the agony of cold feet either, I expect.

Jon’s proud pose outside his shed in 2000-and-whenever made me think. Aside from those of us who have purpose-built garden-offices or mansions with business suites, how many of you reading this post are sitting in (or have just vacated) a converted shed?

More to the point, how do you cope with the distractions of running a home-based business? I gave up working for other people a few years back when I fell out with the new owners of the business I was running at the time. Not having to dance to the tune of some disconnected, remote powers-that-be was (and still is) a real blessing, and since I’m fortunate in having skills that can be marketed independently, working from home made sense to me.

Where to work? Good question, particularly for someone who didn’t have even a spare bedroom at the time – my oldest son, now 26, has since moved out (but that’s another story). My intention was to find work online – a reasonable objective for a freelance writer – but, put bluntly, I needed somewhere to sit. The kitchen table beckoned … much to my long-suffering wife’s disgust.

For the entire family, the biggest difficulty associated with my working from home is demarcation (or more correctly, the lack of it). Concentration, interruption, using the ‘phone, mealtimes – you name it, there’s an issue with it. There were days when I’d have gladly settled for the disconnected, remote authority figure. Finally, reason prevailed.

Enter the Shed

“Why don’t we get a shed for the back garden and you can work in that?” my wife suggested brightly about three years ago. Sounded great to me, but it took another six months before the said shed made an appearance. And then it was in bits. “Not a problem, you’re an engineer,” she said. But …

I learned a few things on day one. Here are the most relevant of them:

  • Shed manufacturers don’t bother with trivial details like limits, fits and tolerances. Yes, most of the parts bore some vague resemblance to the plan (ha!) but I had a few choice words for whoever inspected and passed (yes, it was stamped accordingly) our random collection of joined-up offcuts.
  • It will always rain just when you have uncovered all the parts you need for the day’s work. Even when the BBC weather person has just issued a cast-iron guarantee that your part of Berkshire will be dry for the next week. Make that “Especially when …”
  • Attempting to convey to your better half exactly how you need two flimsy side panels supported in order that you can join them together is fraught with danger. Particularly if you’re an engineer (like wot I am) and the love of your life is not. Suffice to say that diplomatic relations were only restored after lengthy negotiations and the consumption of several glasses of a half-decent red.

OK, so now you have a shed. You soon realise that the job has only just begun. Sheds do not come furnished; neither do they have power points, lighting, internet (don’t get me started) or anything remotely suitable for business use. In fact, they possess absolutely no redeeming qualities to endear them to your heart … and they’re cold, draughty and damp.

I’ll save the saga of moving from “shed-shed” to “office-shed” for another post. One word of advice (well, several actually, but you know what I mean): Don’t skimp or you’ll end up doing it twice.

I’ll repeat that: Don’t skimp or you’ll end up doing it twice.

Yes, I do have the benefit of experience … now. Maybe you do as well. If you run your business from home, do you recognise any of my trials and tribulations? Do you work in a shed? Is it as nice as Jon’s? Do you still have any ties like his? Would you tell us if you did? Do let us know.

Editor’s Note: Mike Bailey, who wrote this article, has offered to write a free guest-post for one of our commenters. Will your name be first out of our virtual hat? Tell us what you think and find out.

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