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A magical genie lamp with smoke. (Daniel Wiedemann)
A magical genie lamp with smoke. (Daniel Wiedemann)

Human resources

If you had one wish for the workplace, what would it be? Add to ...

If you could implement one fantasy idea in the workplace, what would it be?

A resident chef on call to whip up meals for you and the staff? A pet-friendly office utopia for people and dogs? A time machine that could give you that extra hour you need in the workday?

Wait, maybe that last one isn’t so good.

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We asked seven business leaders what they’d like if they could have anything they wanted to make work a better place. Some ideas are practical; others push the boundaries. A few people are already living their dream now that they run their own show. As for the rest, the technology to support their fantasy isn’t quite there yet. But maybe one day...

Javier San Juan, president and CEO, L'Oréal Canada, the Canadian operations of the Paris-based beauty and cosmetics manufacturing giant L’Oreal Group

Javier San Juan believes in personal interaction – not only with his 1,200 staff, but with the people they serve.

“If you want to be close to your consumers – and this is our job – you cannot be close to them from far away,” says Mr. San Juan. “You have to be there, to go to the restaurants and parties. You have to know the people you’re talking to. That’s what makes me travel.”

That means the Spanish-born Mr. San Juan is constantly travelling. Given the size of our country and the distances between cities, Mr. San Juan’s fantasy is “instant teleporting across Canada ... to be where I’m most needed in a matter of a second!”

Beam me up, Scottie.

Bruce Kuwabara, Toronto architect and co-founder of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB), and a design partner for Canada's National Ballet School, the Gardiner Museum and TIFF Bell Lightbox

Bruce Kuwabara puts a different twist on the challenges of travel when you have projects going on in more than one country at once.

“In a diabolical mood, I would have myself cloned to be able to be in more than one place within the office and the world,” says Mr. Kuwabara.

On a more practical note, his fantasy dream office would have “hologram technology, like they used in Minority Report [a 2002 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on a short story set in 2054] where we could manipulate three-dimensional study models in real time.”

Jean-François Bouchard, president and senior partner at Montreal-based Sid Lee, an advertising agency with offices in Amsterdam, Paris and Toronto, known for cool campaigns for companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Red Bull

What Jean-François Bouchard would like to create is The Sid Motel.

“That way, clients, special guests and our own staff travelling from any of our international offices would have a great, creative, different, stimulating, comfortable, interesting, centrally located and affordable place to sleep,” says Mr. Bouchard. “Who knows? We may just be crazy enough to make it happen!”

Tim Ryan, founder, Vestiigo.com, an online career site for young professionals

Tim Ryan would love to see the notion of the typical workday completely revamped – a fantasy that is already becoming a reality for some innovative companies.

“The reality is people are massively productive at different times of the day and week,” says Mr. Ryan. “The quality of your product or service has little to do with the total hours spent in the office between 9 to 5, and more to do with how you set your team up for success. The vast majority of people should be given a relatively open window where they can best distribute their work time.”

Amber MacArthur, co-founder and vice-president of Toronto-based MGI media, also a technology host and journalist

Amber MacArthur’s futuristic office includes a well-designed treadmill e-mail station.

“That way I could exercise and get through my in-box at the same time,” says Ms. MacArthur. “Without the risk of damaging the technology or myself in the process.”

Lauren Friese, founder of TalentEgg.ca, a career website for 18- to 24-year-old students and recent graduates

Lauren Friese is already living her workplace fantasy. She loves having a dog around, so Lily and Pancake, pets belonging to staff, hang out at the office.

“We love them!” says Ms. Friese, who also welcomes visiting dogs. “As an entrepreneur, there’s nothing stopping you from implementing your fantasy workplace. For me, that means a casual dress code, a cozy, unique and centrally located office, adult-contemporary music playing, and two little dogs who spend their days both distracting and motivating us. And we get tons and tons of work done.”

Michael Hyatt, co-founder and CEO of BlueCat Networks, a Toronto-based company that deals in Internet-address management

When it comes to fantasy, Michael Hyatt and Mr. San Juan are on the same wavelength. Mr. Hyatt thinks a teleportation device would be nice so he wouldn’t need to go through customs or take so much travel time.

But Mr. Hyatt has also turned some of his workplace fantasies into reality – including hiring an on-site chef to prepare nutritious breakfasts and lunches for staff at a reasonable cost.

“You have to eat and you have to breathe,” says Mr. Hyatt. “This really helps busy staff by taking care of two major meals. There’s a lineup when it’s burrito day, or salmon and salad, or pulled pork. It’s just crazy sometimes.”

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