On 19 January 2015, Mark Boleat, chairman of the policy and resources committee of the City of London, suggested that if London is to reach its economic potential in 2015 and beyond, its office space must be protected.
While the crisis in the provision of housing for Londoners is an undeniable issue, he claimed there was another emerging crisis that could have just as large an impact on London’s future: the growing lack of office space available to businesses.
“Figures from Deloitte show availability falling by 14 per cent in a year – to a vacancy rate of just four per cent in the West End,” he said. “The shortage is in part due to London’s success as a business centre, but another cause has been the drive to convert office buildings into flats, made easier by a change in the planning rules affecting most of London. This is not the solution to the capital’s housing crisis: it is a noose around the neck of the creative industries we need for future growth.”
This has meant that businesses and workers alike have had to get creative in terms of office space – and further research revealed that Britain wasn’t the only country to feel this pinch. The latest example comes from a BBC interview, which revealed that Lenoir had turned his yacht into an office.
“It’s a standard office – I have wifi and I can do anything I need to do,” he said. However, he admitted to having to learn how to stack his legal documents given the constant rocking of said yacht.
Despite this fact, Lenoir said: “You are part of nature. It’s so amazing to feel part of this whole planet, with the tides and the weather and the wind.”
But if you truly want to see something fascinating then you need to head to Hideaway Island, which claims to be home to the world’s first underwater post office. Of course, most people hand their postcard to the staff at the above-water desk. But you can also buy a waterproof postcard and stamps to send it yourself. That’s right, each day an underwater post office actually gets staffed!
The post office is easily reached from the beach. After swimming out about 50 metres, there are buoys in the water that mark the location of the underwater post office. You dive down three metres to reach the underwater post office and hand your postcard to the scuba-equipped staff member.
Mike Crawford, a dive manager at Hideaway Island, created the unique post-box. He said: “The idea for the project came from the local postmaster having a few red wines in a local cafe. The office was made from a large fibreglass water tank and a gable roof was added and holes cut for a counter on one side and an entrance on the other.”
Obviously it’s become somewhat of a tourist attraction.
Much closer to home is pop-up office TreexOffice. It’s pretty much a classy treehouse.
Entrepreneur Darren Groucutt suggested that the space has an undeniable wow factor to it. He said: “Our clients wouldn’t have dreamed of having a meeting in a treehouse.”
Another regular, wine merchant Wieteke Teppema, claimed that it was like having a desk in a park.
Of course, the office doesn’t have a toilet, but fear not! There seems to be an informal arrangement with a local cafe.
Let’s also not forget the disused underground train in Shoreditch that has been transformed into a workplace. To make matters more interesting, the train itself is perched on top of a building! The train compartments were gutted out, then lifted onto a building by cranes.
“You don’t feel trapped as you would in an office” said Village Underground editorial director Dan Davies, who claimed that traditional workplaces were “air-conditioned veal-fattening booths”.
Despite how cool it sounds, employees have suggested there are some flaws. For example, Ava Szajna-Hopgood explained that there was no insulation and noise from nearby building works was another problem.
However, she also said: “It’s a treat, you’re not going to get bored sat in a tube train. I make an effort to appreciate it.”
Read on to find out about office life in a bomb shelter and a pirate ship.
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