What if workplaces were designed for women by women? That’s the question Fiona Smith, a journalist at the Australian Financial Review, and BRW Magazine, recently set out to answer. But rather than come up with her own personal vision board for what a “female fantasy office” would look like, she took to Twitter and Facebook to crowdsource ideas from other women in Oz.
24 hours later, the suggestions were still pouring in. While Fiona disclaimed that, “access to affordable childcare, paid parental leave, flexible hours and location, equal pay, equal opportunity and quality, caring management are a given,” the 14 point wishlist generated by her social media survey ran the gamut from endless options of tea and shopping access, to rotating artwork and men (provided there is a quota system).
Health: head, shoulders and feet massages available all day, every day. Yoga classes. A sick bay with a lounge to lie on for when period pain or morning sickness strikes. Plenty of Panadol and Nurofen. Standing desks, natural light and fresh air. Office nurses for physical and mental health.
Help: rather than a PA, executive women need an “office wife” who can organise the home, children and social diary. A concierge to do things such as go to the post office.
Shoe storage: this was mentioned multiple times by women who wear flatties to commute then grow 10 centimetres taller in the office. Also slippers under each desk or company Ugg boots.
Pets: I want an office cat but there was some disagreement about that. Some were concerned with fur on their clothes (probably black-clad Melbournites); others preferred dogs.
Lighting: nobody looks their best under fluorescent downlighting. We want golden-toned lamps so we all have that late afternoon glow.
Bathrooms: full-length mirrors so we can see if our skirts are tucked into our underwear (a mirror next to the door as you leave the office for the same reason). Proper make-up mirrors that you don’t have to lean over a sink. Tissues. Ledges to put our bags on. Toilet paper dispensers that roll easily so we don’t have to scrabble with our fingernails to get a square. Free sanitary products.
Mothers: private rooms for expressing milk with comfy armchairs and a TV (it can take 20 minutes or more).