Working from home continues to be a COVID reality for millions of Australians, as some contemplate never returning to office life.
Yet finding the right spot around the house to make it happen without distraction, isn't easy.
Not everyone's place has an accessible attic or simple-to-convert garage, while setting up a work station at the dining room table is a temporary solution at best.
Snap lockdowns, home schooling and the ongoing need to work remotely in the midst of Australia's great real estate squeeze, result in a difficult-to-fulfil need for extra space.
The answer, it seems, lies in the far-flung reaches of backyards and the humble shed or, at least, some kind of outhouse that can be transformed with a little know-how or creativity.
For the country's largest backyard shed maker, EasyShed, it's meant 450 per cent growth in the past 12 months.
"Shed sales are going through the roof," the company's head of purchasing, Daniel Rutland, said.
The biggest uptake has been in capital cities, where space is premium. In locked-down Sydney, there's been an additional 40 per cent in orders in the past few weeks.
"Australians are spending more time at home than ever before and seeking ways to get that extra space without all the hassle of moving," Mr Rutland said.
"We are seeing sheds being repurposed as separate living spaces, guest rooms, 'man caves', 'she sheds', aviaries, home offices, gyms, studios - even home distilleries, home cinemas and pool rooms."
Because ready-to-assemble sheds are relatively cheap, customers are usually willing to spend a little more to customise them.
Windows. Sky lights. Sound proofing. One owner turned his shed into an astronomy room with a retractable roof so he could set up a telescope.
For some, setting up the right space in the garden has even involved installing a portable office pod or timber 'summerhouse'.
Gold Coast Bed Bath and Table merchandiser Lesa Lambert built a 3x3 metre hobby hut during the pandemic last year.
It set back her and husband Greg $12,000 but they estimate it's added $30,000 to the value of their property.
"I make candles in there and whitewash furniture which I share on my instagram account," the mother-of-three said.
"It's multi-use and can be converted into an office, or bedroom when my son and daughter visit. I really utilise it - I'm in there all the time, at least five hours a day."
Australia Post's recent eCommerce report Inside Australian Online Shopping shows 22.9 per cent of online purchases over the past 12 months were in the home and garden category.
Overseas, the trend towards outbuilding to generate extra space has been even more pronounced.
Recent Research by UK home insurer Direct Line found almost a million homeworkers splashed out on a shed or similar backyard dwelling during lockdowns and a further 1.1 million said they planned to.
Australian Associated Press
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