Here is an interesting idea being pitched in the UK: The OfficePOD. It isn't just a garden shed, it is a "full service system for employers to lease home offices for their employees to reduce costs, attract and retain staff, reduce CO2 emissions, increase productivity and adapt to change."
They write for the employee:
The OfficePOD design brief was to satisfy four principal 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.
And for the employer:
The lack of a service oriented offer has been the inertia preventing change
We designed our service to deliver, on behalf of the employer, a proper and fully implemented home working programme. This we know, from experience, has to be a separate space dedicated to productive work that is both safe and compliant in legislative terms.
We also sought to provide a flexible lease solution that involves no capital spend. All of this had to be wrapped up in a one-stop service that is supportive of the employers long term business objectives.
Combining all of these required elements led to OfficePOD…
They claim that it costs GDP 9,000 (pounds) per year in occupancy costs to accommodate an employee in an office building, so leasing an OfficePOD for GDP 5,000 per year represents a significant saving. By American standards that is expensive, (roughly equivalent to rent of a hundred bucks a square foot per annum) but the unit comes with a lot of features. Springwise summarizes:
The unit is a 2.1-by-2.1-metre structure that can be installed in less than a day and typically requires no planning consent. Designed to maximize efficiency in its use of space, the OfficePOD features innovative storage and desktop solutions using high-quality materials chosen for their visual, physical and environmental characteristics. Recycled and recyclable products have been used wherever possible and natural materials chosen over man-made. Power is provided via a protected connection to the house or garage; IT and phone connectivity are generally wireless but can be similarly cabled. The POD satisfies the most stringent energy performance benchmarks with its low energy consumption, high levels of insulation and innovative cooling system. Also included on the OfficePOD is a secure locking system. The OfficePOD is available to employers through a flexible leasing arrangement with full service including all surveys, enabling work, installation, help-desk support, health and safety assessments, repairs and removal.
Would this work in North America? More from OfficePOD
More on Sheds and Home Offices
Working From Home Makes More Sense Than Ever
Home Office is "New Staple of the American Home"
Your Office is Where You Are
Set Up a Home Office , a Comprehensive Guide
Home Office Tricks: Watch out for Dangers