No matter what kind of office you work in, hold this truth to be self-evident: You’re stuck in the same micro-environment most hours of the week. For some of us, that means a gray-walled cubicle; for others, a window office. For telecommuters, it often means a desk located next to the refrigerator.
Thanks in part to tech companies like Google, office environments are becoming less pristine and more like playgrounds. Plastic action dolls and disarming signs complement–and sometimes replace–mahogany and philodendrons.
Business Pundit researched ten items that straddle the gap between professional and fun. Some items, such as the digital picture frame, are adaptable enough even for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Others, like the Omni bean bag, might require a more relaxed environment.
One thing’s for certain. Housing one or more of these office items in your cube will bring you back from the dead, even on the slowest of summer afternoons. Here they are, in order of necessity:
Life-giving element: Oxygen. Plants recycle carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen, making them essential for life.
Cube use: Recycle the stale air in your work-box with only a minimal commitment by cultivating a rock garden like the one above. Unlike some indoor plants, this little garden will survive weekends and holidays.
Life-giving element: Memories. Rotating pictures of your friends and loved ones remind you that you have a life outside of your cubicle and department meeting room.
Cube use: Load your digital frame with pictures of family, vacations, wild nights, and other memories that make you feel good. Best-case scenario: Motivation to work hard in the name of weekends and vacations. Worst-case scenario: Minutes of wistful pining.
Life-giving element: Hygiene. Keeping your hands clean helps you stay healthy. Keeping crumbs off your desk helps you feel like less of a slob.
Cube use: Hands, coffee rings on desk, crumbs on keyboard, finger grease on mouse–Handy Wipes are good for just about everything. Except for your face.
Life-giving element: Energy. Instant, tasty energy that doesn’t come in brown liquid form. Satisfying crunching sound when chewing. Candy with benefits.
Cube use: Good for hijacking afternoon slumps and getting buzzed before meetings.
Life-giving element: Pets. When people think of low-maintenance aquatic creatures, they think of goldfish. Dwarf frogs are infinitely more interesting, but require almost as little care as the standard goldfish.
Cube use: All these fascinating little critters require is a small, filtered tank like this one, an aquatic plant or two, and food. They like to hang out upside down and stare into space, creating an ideal distraction for long days in front of the computer.
Life-giving element: Uniqueness. Teddy bears are so played out–why not get a stuffed E. Coli to mix things up?
Cube use: Hang or place your favorite microbe (the deadlier, the better) in a peripheral place, such as the entrance of your cube. it will catch you by surprise and invoke a giggle when you least expect it.
Life-giving element: Rest. Of course, you don’t ever do that at work. Right?
Cube use: Lean this rectangular bean bag against your wall or under your desk. Its shape-shifting qualities allow you to stash it in a variety of places. Then, at an acceptable time, use the Sumo as a chair, a sleeping mat, a pony, or any other shape that comes to mind. (Ed.: Sumo sent Business Pundit an Omni to try out. We loved it, both as a cube toy and a cure for the common, circular bean bag.)
Life-giving element: Relief. Climber’s putty is another form of the common office squeezy toy, an ideal way to reduce tension.
Cube use: The stuff stores in a large plastic fist, making it an interesting decoration with utility. Bust out the putty when your clients, direct reports, boss, and/or colleagues have you ready to beat down your cube wall.
Life-giving element: Safety. Nobody–no employee, no client, no boss–can sneak up on you when you have the advantage of a mini-mirror.
Cube use: Clamp your little friend on a flat-screen monitor, desk, or any other jutting corner. If your back faces the entry to your cube, this mirror will be invaluable.
Cube use: Decorate your walls with one of these de-spiring posters. Here are just a couple of the many messages waiting to be tacked onto the padded walls of your cube (via ThinkGeek):
—Customer Disservice Because we’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied.
–Consulting. If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
–Give Up. At some point, hanging in there just makes you look like an even bigger loser.
Once you secure all the items on the list, add a couple of employee recognition awards and a really complicated project chart. You’ll be set for success–and quality distraction–in no time.