The shedworking movement has never really caught on in North America like it has in the UK, and perhaps the reasons can be most clearly seen in this interesting shed shown recently on Alex Johnson's site Shedworking., built by Green Studios in South London. It clearly demonstrates how different things are.
The story really starts on the street. In South London, the terrace houses may be hot properties now, but they are often really small, with only two bedrooms and probably not much of a cellar or basement. So if you want to work from home, a basement, loft or spare bedroom office isn't an option.
Yet behind these tiny houses, you often find long deep backyards; that's where the outhouse used to be, at the bottom of the yard. When indoor plumbing arrived the outhouse became the garden shed. So as owner Ben says in the video, it was cheaper and more practical to do this than to renovate the house. In North America, most of the housing is much newer and the lots are rarely this deep.
Not only that, it needed planning permission and actually got it; I suspect that if somebody tried to get permission to run a whole video production company out of a backyard shed, the NIMBYs would be on his case in seconds.
I thought rules were tough in London, but in America they would be complaining about height! Noise! Where are the bathrooms! Parking for employees and visitors! A few years ago I did some consulting to an agency that wanted to do granny flats in the backyards, and the fire department nixed it because the hoses wouldn't run that far from the hydrants that were in the street. On another back lane project, the city demanded a four inch water main be run hundreds of feet down the lane at the owner's expense (estimate for the plumbing was higher than the cost of the building.)
TreeHugger has shown quite a few sheds in North American backyards, but they are almost all the small ones that can be built as of right without building permits. Because as soon as you have to ask someone, the answer is usually no.
Then there is also the issue of cost, and the inevitable cost per square foot calculations. Small is expensive; Green Studios' garden pods start at US$185 PSF and this one probably cost a lot more, with its green roof and very fancy wiring. It's really impressive that Green Studios can actually make a business out of building solid, efficient and green buildings in the back yards of London. I am not sure you could do this in most of North America. It's just not... normal.
Lots more photos of different models at Green Studios