This is what an office designed by women looks like

FIONA SMITH
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014

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Another day, another press release about an office of the future. The funny thing about these employee-friendly workspaces is that they all have a foosball table.

They also tend to have free beer, pool tables and bowls full of chocolates. They are distinctly man-flavoured and it got me thinking about what a female fantasy workplace would look like.

What if workplaces were designed for women by women? I had my own ideas, but when I passed them by my lovely husband in the original version of this column, he was concerned the girlie nature of my wish list might reflect badly on women (as if conversation openers about shoes and kids is any sillier than obsessions with ball games and things with wheels).

So I decided to take a data-based approach. I sent it out to Twitter and Facebook and, 24 hours later, the suggestions are still pouring in. There's a great, untapped well of unfulfilled workplace desires out there and it seems a lot of men want to work in the female fantasy office, too.

Before I get started on what these women want, let's just get the obvious out of the way. Access to affordable childcare, paid parental leave, flexible hours and location, equal pay, equal opportunity and quality, and caring management are a given. We may not have those things, but everybody knows we want them, need them and deserve them.

Our demands

1. 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.

2. A tea bar: we like to drink tea - in all different flavours. A wide range, with real chai and decaf that will never run out. Skim milk and soy should also be on offer. One woman recommends a kettle, because she says the hot water taps never make a decent cuppa.

3. Better food options: a chef who creates a range to suit different diets (there should always be a tasty, low-carb option). A weekly, all-in lunch so people can get to know each other better. Healthy snacks and "beautiful fruit" rather than cardboard apples and unripe bananas. Lots and lots of sushi.

4. 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.

5. Flattering lighting: nobody looks their best under fluorescent downlighting. We want golden-toned lamps so we all have that late-afternoon glow.

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6. Convenient shopping: we decided that an office tower over a Westfield was probably a bad idea, but access to shops nearby was essential because so many of us no longer have time to do our shopping.

7. Mirror, mirror on the walls: 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.

8. Wellbeing aids: 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.

9. Motherly love: private rooms for expressing milk with comfy armchairs and a TV (it can take 20 minutes or more).

10 Home 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.

11. Social settings: we want to work with friends or, at least, people who are friendly to us. Office drinks that occur before 5pm on a Friday. While some requested good places for quality conversation, I think they are forgetting that women talk anywhere.

12. Safe and secure: should have good, safe access to public transport at all hours.

13. Aesthetically pleasing: the office should be beautiful. Plants are good and art is even better - especially if it changes on a regular basis. Chaises longue for reading and good international magazines (trashy, fashion, design and work-related).

14: Men: absolutely, yes, but we may need to introduce a quota system.

- FFX Aus

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