We spend more time at work than in our 'living' rooms – yet it's the living rooms that get prime time TV slots on renovation programs. It's time we turned our attention to Australia's offices, lavishing them with the creative attention that we do our homes.
Boosting morale with some cute office cushions or a table tennis tables is great. But I wanted to uncover our most unique office.
Earlier this month, new research recommended office employees should stand for a minimum of two hours a day, progressing to four hours a day, to avoid risking premature death from an over-sedentary lifestyle. Well, this office in Sydney's CBD has gone one better than that.
PT Essentials, a sports software company, has transformed its office space into an actual gym - based on a CrossFit style 'box'. Instead of the hackneyed old instruction to think 'outside the box', staff can think more creatively inside the box. So to speak.
The CrossFit office
Founder and CEO Matthew Harris (pictured above), 31, actually started it for personal reasons. "I found myself becoming unfit and had less time to get to the gym," he says. "Add to this my military service in East Timor, which left a toll on my body requiring a lot of rehabilitation. So instead of talking about problems, I acted. I brought the gym to me. Hard to make [an excuse not to go to the gym] when your whole office is physically built out of one."
Staff come to work in their gym kit, and can break from their desk work any time to do some workouts – on the steel bars or the hanging rings surrounding their computers. The first thing they do when arriving at the office is chin-ups. They even have meetings whilst hanging upside down, which they cheekily refer to as a "hangout" when they send an Outlook calendar appointment. It's certainly one way of getting the blood flowing.
Care has been taken to ensure the health and safety army don't come knocking – outside the door is a 'zero liability' disclaimer. It's important because the benefits have been noticed by neighbouring office spaces. "As well as helping my staff as a great break and to spur creativity, it has brought lots of attention within our co-working space, with people from other offices asking to hop up and do a heave!" he says. "I'm curious why business don't invest more time and effort into creating a space that makes you and your staff WANT to come into work."
Here are some businesses that are doing just that:
Our office is a tree-house
Melbourne's Moose Toys wanted an outlandish office to match its offering as a toy company. So they made their foyer into a bean stalk leading up to a funky tree house meeting room.
Our office has an on-tap bar
Based in Moorabbin, Victoria, Liquid Infusion doesn't just talk the talk – they drink the drink. The mobile cocktail events company has a cocktail bar permanently set up in the office.
Every time a sales target is reached, or outstanding feedback received, a fresh cocktail (or energy-giving smoothie) is minutes away, crafted by their head mixologist.
Staff can choose to jump on to a bartender shift anywhere they like if they don't feel like working in the office for that day.
Our office is made out of junk
Recycling company Terra Cycle, in Sydney's Surry Hills, is an office full of rubbish. Literally. The organisation's mission is to "eliminate the idea of waste" so they decided to lead by example.
Lamps are made of Colgate toothpaste tubes or water bottles, clocks are made from coffee capsules and tin cans, mug holders are made from old windows and cushions are upcycled from old Qantas uniform print fabric.
Sliding across the ditch
New Zealand shows how it can really be done. Trade Me in Wellington has not one, but three slides. The "twisted helix beast" runs from floors three to five and there are shorter slides from floors three to for and four to five.
Paul Ford, the company's head of communications and community says it's a bit of fun, but also surprisingly practical. "It's a great way to have an open space connecting three floors together – if you stand at the top of the slide you can see all three floors, and you can hear clapping and laughing from other floors. It helps us feel connected," he says.
"Plenty of our people deliberately walk up to the top of the slide on Level 5 if they have a meeting at the bottom on Level 3. There's something liberating about slipping down two floors at pace that's refreshing and invigorating."
But with fun comes responsibility: "There are warnings at the top around preparing for the speed of the descent. Yes a few people have been spat off the end – normally because of slippery suit pants or no-friction woollen jerseys. You underestimate it at your peril but there haven't been any compensation claims. Yet. There are rumours of people riding down backwards, but the one about someone heading down on an office chair is an urban myth."
They also have a caravan meeting room "to acknowledge our Kiwi roots".