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18-Month Update on the Garden Office: A Multifunctional Success

It's been 18 months since I wrote my introduction to the Frontline UK office AKA Mark’s Garden Office 😁 and I wanted to share how this space has evolved. Since I wrote this initial article, Frontline have scaled to a near 1000 staff and even though our management team has grown to nearly 100, I continue to be the only UK employee of Frontline – proving that you can run and scale a hugely successful business with a full offshore team, supporting your on-shore team!

The “Garden office” and “Is It Aye?” sign was my wife ‘s very Glaswegian response to the huge schoolboy error I made whilst choosing the size of the building… I mapped out the internal floorplan of 5m x 3m in the back garden to show my wife the size of the structure… not the external footprint of the office which was actually a lot bigger than stated as it had decking and an overhang etc. 😬

Reflecting on my initial investment of around £15.5k, I can confidently say it was one of the best decisions I've made for both my professional and personal well-being.

For the accountants 😉 I’ve added 15 Sq. Metres of highly versatile space, because of its construction is akin to adding an extension which has added to the value of the property so as a long-term investment, I reckon it will actually be around cost neutral; but I suppose I won't know that for sure until it’s time to sell and that is some way off for now.

The Quiet Retreat

The peace and quiet I get in the office continue to be a game-changer, as you would expect having our HQ in Manila, I have very early meetings some days and I can do this without waking everyone in the house!

Being out of the house allows me to focus without interruption, even when the kids are home and making as much noise as they want, which is really the main motivator for this project, it's their house and they should enjoy being kids without me telling them to shush because I’m on a meeting or trying to concentrate! My twin boys Logan & Lucas are now 10 and Sebastian our youngest is just about 8 years old now, so as you can imagine with 3 young boys, that can be a noisy environment! Now that the grass at the back is dry enough for them to play football again, we will see how this progresses but I’ll be honest all 3 of them are currently massively into the much quieter pastime of Cubing 😆 if you’re not familiar, this is solving various different shapes and sizes of Rubik’s cubes as fast as possible. I’m not gonna lie watching your 3 kids smash out solving a Rubik’s cube or “Pyramix” in under 2 minutes is awe inspiring!

Battling the Winter Chill

So, in the everlasting winter of 2023/24 presented a unique challenge. Even though the office is well-insulated with double-lined walls (5-inch Kingspan), double-glazed windows, and built-in heating, it still got quite cold. However, I did find an efficient heating solution, due to having 2 hybrid cars I have Octopus Intelligent Go electric car tariff which gives (by current standards) dirt cheap electricity in the “dead hours”. So, by setting an Alexa automation to turn on an additional heater from 3 AM to 4:30 AM, I ensured the office was warm and toasty by the time I started my workday. This made a big difference, turning chilly mornings into a comfortable start to my day, I have decided not to do that next winter though and will instead do a workout to warm... which brings me to the other unexpected benefit of the space.

A Versatile Space

The garden office has proven to be more than just a workspace. During the long, cold Scottish winter (6 months of winter north of the wall! 🙄), The office was transformed into a gym and golf studio. It's amazing what you can get done with a set of adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands and a putting mat! Unfortunately, I can confirm that all my made putts on the mat made no difference when the golf season started 🙈. A great thing about the space is the Apple setup, I have a MacBook with second screen, iPad Pro which acts as a 3rd screen with “Sidecar” and I can actually use Airplay to connect to the TV which is awesome for webinars and training sessions.

Future Plans

Looking ahead, I need to get my backside in gear and update my content for the 21st century! Ive been writing content based on my day to day for years but have so far not done a lot of video content; I know I’m procrastinating on this and its outside of my comfort zone so I’m removing my “internal obstacles” one by one! So, you may be shocked to hear that I actually hate the sound of my own voice! Who knew right? 🤷🏽‍♂️ Webinars I’m all good, presentation to 100’s in live audiences - absolutely fine; recorded content for some reason seems to be my absolute nemesis! So next up is a proper vlogging station with good sound and lighting. However, this will require a bigger / separate desk to accommodate 😉. Additionally, I’ve already chosen the storage wall design and paint colour to make it feel like an old school accountant’s office with a modern twist, with oak and dark greens and maybe even a chesterfield or two! Grand plans indeed! Fortunately, I have plenty of time to get these upgrades in place.

Business Growth

So, what has this office space helped Frontline UK do? Well, the past 18 months have not just been about enjoying my new workspace. The UK business has seen substantial growth, with new clients coming on board and existing clients expanding their teams. We are now nearly at the 1000-employee mark! The productivity gains from the garden office have undoubtedly contributed to this success but in the very least, it's allowed my family to get on with the day-to-day without any interruption from the continued growth of Frontline UK.

If you are looking to improve work life balance (by adding a skilled offshore team) or improve your general efficiency? Get in touch and we can discuss some more practical moves you can make before digging up the back garden for foundations.

All the best,

UK Country Director

Frontline Accounting Schedule a call with me:

With over 10 years’ experience working with Accountancy Firms, BPO’s and Fintech’s like Intuit & Dext; Mark helps firms maximize efficiency and solve capacity issues with People + Technology.


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