"An Englishman's shed is his castle" is a reworking of the old saying that's surprisingly true, even in this gadgety electronic age. So now a U.K.-based company is working to reinvent the humbled shed as an eco-friendly home-office solution for e-commute workers.
OfficePod is being touted by its makers as a "full service system for employers to lease home offices for their employees," by creating a fully-equipped workspace that lets a company's employees telecommute. And of course telecommuting reduces both carbon emissions and daily traffic frustrations--plus it lets you get up later and get "home from the office" sooner than having to get to a physical office. (If you're smart enough to do that and not start work earlier and extend your day later.) It's a trend that's beginning to take off in certain jobs--writers and editors for Web sites like FastCompany.com being a prime example.
But according to the company behind the new idea, one of the key reasons telecommuting hasn't taken off very quickly is the lack of "a service-oriented offer" that can efficiently encompass all of the hardware and legal/health and safety aspects of creating a good working environment at home. Hence OfficePod is designed to be quick to install, comply with regulations, and is leased for £5,000 ($7,200) per year. That's getting towards half of the amount that the company says it costs to house a worker in a typical centralized office environment--£9,000 ($13,000). That's a considerable savings, and the all-in-one nature of the lease sounds like it would be a tempting offer for smaller companies that don't have the advanced infrastructure to support remote-sited workers or even larger ones looking to save costs.
And the product is very interesting--it's not just a simple office cubicle translated to a new setting: OfficePod has been designed with some very understandable criteria.
"1. To create a self contained office that exceeds all standard office accommodation regulations & requirements.
2. To provide an environment that is conducive to productive work.
3. To create a product that staff would want, and even be proud to have, in their garden.
4. Have the minimum impact on the environment - both in manufacture and use."
To that end the 2.1-meter square structure is not unattractive, uses recycled materials, installs easily, and is heavily insulated for energy efficiency (and presumably against typical British weather.) It gets power via a connection to the house's electricity and assumes wireless connectivity for the PC and telephone. And I'd certainly have one in my garden--it'd be a fabulous environment to work in, and the idea of shutting the door on the pod at the end of a day of work and returning "home" through the flower beds is great.
Alas, I don't have a garden, which is going to be an impediment to OfficePod's potential proliferation. The home-owning housing model common in the U.K. isn't necessarily applicable elsewhere. Plus, I'd be nervous about the pod being a target for burglars. Still, all in all it's a fabulous idea and it's getting a first public showing this week in The Cumberland Hotel in London.