Thursday, June 25, 2009
For many people, the office is synonymous with the mundane. Although offices can be interesting and exciting places, they are rarely unusual, especially if we spend most of our waking lives inside one.
With telecommuting becoming more common and desirable (52% of workers believe that their working life would be less stressful if they worked remotely), we lift the lid on the most extraordinary places in which one might choose to set up a home office.
You’ve heard of the mobile office, but some of these are ridiculous!
What do you keep in your garden shed: a lawn mower, tools, a broken bike, a jerry can, amateur bomb-making apparatus? How about a home office? It sounds unlikely, but the humble garden shed, favoured by writers in particular, is one of the more common places to find an office these days.
In many ways, the garden shed office is perfect, unless the next-door neighbour’s mowing the lawn or attempting to smoke you out with a bonfire. It’s generally peaceful: free from the distractions of everyday life, with a green and pleasant view.
The hut office offers similar benefits to the garden shed, except that, due to its smaller size, it can be made to fit into the smallest of gardens, or be located in the most secluded and beautiful spot within a larger garden.
The best example of the hut office is the writing hut of George Bernard Shaw, author of Pygmalion and Androcles and the Lion. His ingenious writing hut was mounted onto a revolving platform, so that his office could be rotated to follow the sun’s daily journey across the sky.
From offices with green and pleasant views to one with a brilliant white and altogether unpleasant vista: how about putting your office in the toilet? Before you dismiss this idea as madness, first consider its advantages: the toilet office is very easy to clean, and toilet breaks can become a thing of the past, as conference calls and a plethora of other professional tasks can be managed from the comfort of its pearly throne.
Of course, it has its disadvantages too: it’s hardly an inspiring atmosphere in which to work, and if you live with others, there can be frequent (and often odorous) disruptions.
Air Force One
Air Force One, The US President’s personal plane (in fact, there are two of them, but don’t tell anybody), has 4,000 square feet of floor space, split over three levels. It comes as no major surprise that there is an office space on board. Mr President has his own suite, complete with a large office, accompanying conference rooms and a rather decadent lavatory (which, rather boringly, does not have an office inside).
The plane’s other amenities include a medical suite, with operating theatre and full-time surgeon, two food preparation galleys capable of serving 100 guests, two convertible couches, 85 telephones, 19 televisions, 238 miles of wiring and a treadmill, installed at the request of a Mr George W. Bush.
Like the example above, the submarine office is not for everyone, but if you find yourself stranded at sea, underwater for months on-end in a poky steel submersible, you will need an office in which to work. Submarine offices tend to replace desks and tables with floor-to-ceiling walls of screens, buttons, switches and knobs. Paper is seldom used, both because of a submarine’s distinct lack of storage space, and its potential for getting a trifle soggy.
When your office is tiny and cramped, it can feel as if you’re working inside a cardboard box. Few people would actively seek out this type of work environment, but Paul Coudamy of the ad agency Beast, decided to build his entire office out of 4cm thick cardboard, to save money and of course, to look cool in the process.
Although a cardboard office can easily be damaged (no spilt cups of tea here please!), it is surprisingly comfortable and light and flexible enough to allow for frequent modifications of the office space.
Many people rich enough to own luxury yachts have been born into such immense wealth, that they barely have to work a day in their lives. The remainder of the world’s yacht owners tend to be such seasoned hard workers, that they can’t bear to be away from the office for the length of time it takes to cross the Thames, let alone the Atlantic.
For these workaholics, an office on board their yacht is a necessity, not a luxury. For the man who has everything, Engelmann Inc, of Ketchum, Idaho, build beautiful yacht offices out of solid mahogany and white oak.
Offices should be social spaces. Personal interaction is conducive to a strong, motivated team with common goals and objectives, contributing greatly to organisational efficiency. Some days however, usually following nights of heavy alcohol consumption, you just want to come into work, do your job, and get out as quickly as possible, preferably without talking to (or even making eye contact with) anybody, especially not your nagging boss or the nosey secretary.
For these days, there is the treehouse office, which affords its user solace and solitude. As with the garden shed, it offers beautiful panoramic views to benefit blue-sky thinkers.
If you can live in a trailer, as many Americans do, then you can easily work in one. Trailers are frequently used as an office on construction sites the world over, and can be set up in an instant when necessary, such as in a disaster zone.
Companies like Acton Mobile, in Baltimore, USA, lease and sell office trailers, and can build one to order within 6 weeks. Granted, they’re not the most glamorous places to work (compared to a solid mahogany yacht office anyway), but they serve an important purpose and are the most well-used and established of all the unusual offices in this list.
It’s not only Hollywood baddies like Dr Evil who use underground lairs as the centres of their malevolent operations. Offices exist in nuclear bunkers and many other subterranean locations around the globe. Westminster Council chose to site its £1.25 million CCTV control room under London’s streets, accessible only through a labyrinth of underground corridors beneath Piccadilly Circus.
Images of Londoners going about their daily business, captured by the capital’s share of the UK’s 4.8 million CCTV cameras, are beemed onto walls of plasma screen TVs, to be consumed by controllers and the Police.
Ever feel like you’re being watched? You are… but just possibly, not in your home office.