Research confirms that garden sheds provide a better working environment than the home

Since lockdown, the use of the garden office has grown exponentially in the UK and, for the first time, a leading neuroscientist has conducted a trial confirming that people do perform better in this environment than in their homes. 

Colin Ellard is a psychogeographer, neuroscientist and director of the North American Urban Realities Lab. and conducted the research on behalf of Forest Garden, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of garden offices. He works at the intersection of neuroscience, architecture and environmental design. 

Respondents completed a questionnaire both in their homes and, separately, in garden offices. Analysis of these showed a 25% improvement in focal attention whilst in the garden as opposed to their homes. 

In another series of questions, results showed that respondents were slightly happier and more content whilst in the garden with a greater feeling of control. 

Many of the questions dealt with the Perceived Restorative Scale and looked at Being Away, Fascination, distraction/coherence and compatibility. 

In his summary, Colin Ellard states that: “The garden environment scores well in all categories. Participants feel the garden offices provides an escape from every day, it provides an absorbing and interesting environment, reduces average assessments of distraction by almost 50% compared to inside with the house and participants feel a modestly greater “fit” to the setting in the garden compared to the house.”  

Even Colin was surprised by the results saying: “I expected participants to report that they liked the garden room as a work environment, but I was honestly surprised by its positive impact on their ability to pay attention. This came through clearly.” 

Ellard has written a number of books on his subject including Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life.  Because of the complexity of the questionnaire and the fact it had to be completed in two separate environments, the sample was deliberately small. 

Jenny Davis, head of marketing at Forest Garden, said: “This research gives an overwhelming view that personal performance improves at all levels when working in the garden office compared to a house environment.  It clearly reinforces all the anecdotal evidence that suggests the great value being in the garden gives to the individual. 

“We’ve seen an unparalleled upsurge of interest in our garden room sales over the last 18 months, particularly the Xtend range which was launched earlier in the year. Working from a stylish yet functional garden room that is both cool in the summer and cosy in the winter has been essential for many, but this research shows that as we find our new way of working, the garden really is the place to be.” 

The Xtend range of Garden rooms is available https://www.forestgarden.co.uk/product-categories/garden-buildings/xtend-by-forest/. RRP from £8,837.99.  

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