- Since the coronavirus hit the US, millions of people have been working from home. For some, it has been tough to separate their home life from work life or find a successful designated work area.
- This has resulted in an increased interest in tiny offices as a work-from-home solution.
- B&B Micro Manufacturing in Adams, Massachusetts, offers two models of backyard offices, both of which are highly customizable and can come travel-ready on a trailer.
- INshed in Elgin, Illinois, has seen an uptick in tiny office orders and expects to sell around 20 this month.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the US, working from home was seen by some as a once-in-a-while luxury, something you had to clear with supervisors to make sure your work production didn't suffer. But since mid-March, millions of people have been working remotely from home. Now, companies like Dropbox and Microsoft are letting their employees work from home permanently, and many other companies are considering letting employees continue to work from home after the pandemic.
For some, the transition to working from home was seamless and even benefited their mental health, but for others, trying to balance family life and work life under one roof has been challenging. Enter backyard offices, the newest trend in the tiny living world hoping to spice up the work-from-home game.
With companies looking for an alternative to office space and people in need of a new home office, here are five tiny office companies around the world offering a fresh perspective on working from home.
INshed in Elgin, Illinois, started making tiny offices in June. Now the company expects to fill about 20 orders this month.
Bob Clarizio, founder and CEO of INshed, told Insider the idea for a tiny office stemmed from being a single dad trying to balance his work and home lives. In June, Clarizio built his first tiny office in front of his company's main headquarters to have a peaceful and quiet place to do work. Soon after, a local news station noticed the structure and featured it in a story, leading to an entirely new base of customers looking to buy one of Clarizio's offices to use in their own backyards.
The INshed is 8 feet wide, 16 feet long, and about 96 square feet.
"It was not a product line at the time, it was just a solution for myself," Clarizio told Insider. "Sometimes we're sitting on gold and we don't even know it, or we're sitting on a massive solution for a group of people that don't even know that something's possible like this."
Each unit is four-season insulated and features a desk, a TV, shelving, a ceiling fan, and other possible additions.
Clarizio, who is also the founder and CEO of the tiny house company Bantam Built, said that being able to have a designated home office, even if it's tiny, can help establish a healthier work-from-home schedule while also giving people an extra place to go when they need some personal time.
The offices are designed with the flexibility to stay in your backyard or travel.
"[An INshed] gives somebody that clarity from the standpoint of, maybe they're not commuting into an office but they're commuting across the backyard or somewhere on their property," Clarizio told Insider. "It still gives them that ability to feel like they get to leave. That empowers them to, you know, they get to get the h-ll out for a little bit."
Depending on customizations, INshed tiny offices cost on average between $10,000 and $15,000, or about $230 a month if financed.
Investing in a tiny office may seem daunting, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many people's financial situations. But Clarizio told Insider that depending on how you finance the office, it would be cheaper for companies than paying for office space or more cost-friendly than some people's commutes to work each month.
The company partnered with Synchrony Bank to offer 0% financing on offices for 24 months, or Clarizio said you can pay it off over nine years at 7% interest, among other options.
London-based design studio Boano Prišmontas created My Room in the Garden pods as a cheap, minimalist approach to working from home.
In an interview with Dezeen's editor Tom Ravenscroft in September, Boano Prišmontas co-founder Jonas Prišmontas said the idea for the garden pod stemmed from a personal need to have a creative space outside of his home and professional office to work on personal projects.
The interior of the pods are made of digitally fabricated birch plywood and the exterior is made of corrugated polycarbonate cladding.
Prišmontas told Dezeen that, even before the pandemic, he and co-founder Tomaso Boano had wanted a private place to focus on their work. They had envisioned somewhere close enough to home while also being separate from their living space.
"Given the current situation of a global pandemic, we feel that many people are experiencing a similar type of frustration and would like to have the option of escaping their home space and being able to work or focus on their hobbies [or] exercise, thus our solution," Prišmontas said.
The pods can comfortably fit one person, a desk, and a chair. They are designed to be environmentally friendly and minimize waste.
In the same interview with Dezeen, Boano Prišmontas co-founder Tomaso Boano said the tiny office was created with comfort and customizability in mind. Letting people have a say in what the interior looked like and how much storage they had was important to him and Prišmontas.
Inside, different finishes include a peg wall, mirrors, and plain or decorated wood.
"My Room in the Garden is not an insulated container with windows. It is also not a garden shed you buy in a hardware store," Boano told Dezeen.
The pods were designed to fit into cozy spaces in London but can be shipped internationally.
The units stand at just over 8 feet tall and come as small as 40 square feet, living up to its description as a "cozy prefab hideout."
The base model costs about $6,350 but higher-end models with insulation and glass doors and windows cost more.
Business Insider first reported on My Room in the Garden in September.
B&B Micro Manufacturing in Adams, Massachusetts, sells two models of backyard offices: the Brodie and the Richmond.
Jason Koperniak, co-owner of B&B Micro Manufacturing, told Insider his company's sales have risen 50% since the pandemic shut down much of the US in mid-March, largely due to an increased demand for tiny structures, including backyard offices. B&B started selling the Brodie model four years ago but has experienced a spike in interest due to the pandemic.
B&B's models are customizable to include features specific to your work-from-home needs.
"We have seen an increase in sales across all product lines that we offer," Koperniak told Insider in an email. "The Pandemic has really emphasized the value of stand-alone structures."
The backyard offices have insulation intended for frigid New England winters, but that doesn't mean the offices won't work elsewhere.
Koperniak said that B&B's backyard offices can be tailored to fit any need, from makeshift artist studios and wood shops to remote small business headquarters and architecture studios.
The Brodie is 8 feet, 6 inches wide, 20 feet long, and approximately 170 square feet. It features two desks, a half bathroom, and epoxy countertops.
Koperniak said that B&B can construct the offices out of materials including vinyl, metals, and sheetrock, but the primary material used on the Richmond and Brodie models is wood.
The 120-square-foot Richmond model is 8 feet, 6 inches wide, 14 feet long, 10 feet high, and can comfortably fit two people.
B&B tiny offices can be built on a trailer for easy transportation.
The Richmond includes built-in storage and a kitchenette featuring a small sink, a fridge, drawers, and a microwave.
Koperniak says even if the office is in your backyard, the extra space and short "commute" could change your productivity and improve your mental health.
The tiny offices cost between $40,000 and $60,000 and can be shipped across the country.
"Having the office be separate from your residence, even if it is in the backyard, creates a separation between home and work," Koperniak told Insider in an email. "Mentally, this separation will create a better work-life balance, which is often difficult to manage while working from your home."
The design company Dutch Invertuals created one-person tiny offices that are currently installed in two of Droomparken's holiday parks in the Netherlands.
In an interview with Dezeen's Cajsa Carlson, Dutch Invertuals architect Chris Collaris and design director Wendy Plomp said they designed the units with functionality in mind.
Each office is 64 square feet and is made out of corrugated aluminum and wood. They feature a day bed, a desk, a large window to prevent claustrophobia, and acrylic walls that you can write on.
"The interiors are designed to create the most optimal work environment, where you can concentrate and work but also lay down on a beautifully designed daybed to think and look outside," Collaris and Plomp told Dezeen.
The offices were commissioned in 2018, but they have received increased attention due to the pandemic.
In their interview with Dezeen, Collaris and Plomp explained that the company Droomparken, which operates holiday parks across the Netherlands, tapped their company to create the offices for Dutch Design Week in 2018. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the offices have garnered more attention.
"The units got more attention because going to the normal office was not an option anymore. Tiny Offices were and are a much safer place than the traditional office," Collaris and Plomp told Dezeen.
Right now you have to travel to the Netherlands to experience Dutch Invertuals' tiny offices, but the company says it may be working on new spaces in the future.
Insider first reported on Dutch Invertuals in September.
Anchored Tiny Homes began manufacturing tiny offices in April after the company experienced a "massive" interest in work-from-home structures.
Colton Paulhus, owner of Anchored Tiny Homes in Sacramento, California, said since the pandemic started, sales of tiny homes have doubled as people are trying to accommodate working and learning from home. Interest in tiny offices is also growing, something he attributes to the cost-effectiveness of the product.
The offices come in three sizes: 8 feet wide and 16 feet long (128 square feet); 8 feet wide and 20 feet long (160 square feet); and 8 feet wide by 24 feet long (192 square feet).
"We build very quality products like, really nice fancy offices at an affordable price and we also offer zero down financing, which is a huge plus so people can actually get into our home offices for as little as $199 a month," Paulhus told Insider. "Instead of leasing office space, they can work from home for $199 a month."
The office's roof is made of metal, the siding is a combination of LP siding and board and batten, and the floor is wood.
Paulhus said each tiny office is certified as an RV. Since first launching the tiny offices earlier this year, Paulhus said the response to the offices has been positive.
Each office comes with a lock pad on the door, a skylight, and air conditioning, but there are other features, like a bathroom, available to add in custom builds.
"We have one customer we just delivered [to] last week and they're like, 'Our lives are changed,'" Paulhus told Insider. "They have four kids that are in the house, they're all trying to work from home, go to school from home, and it's just all intense so, being able to kind of distance themselves and go outside has been a game-changer."
Anchored's tiny offices come on wheels cost and about $40,000.
Paulhus said that, in his eyes, working from a tiny office isn't the same as working from home.
"It's a lot more comfortable being out in the home office," he told Insider. "That's your own that you can lock the door and get locked into work, rather than working from home."
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