Lots of people I know consider a good night out as heading to their favourite club at 10pm, standing around drinking overpriced cocktails while surrounded by sweaty people they don’t like until the club closes at 5am. Personally, I believe Melbourne has a lot more to offer and since we aren’t really allowed to leave the house right now, reflecting on all the fun I used to have has become my favourite pastime and I thought I would use it to give you all some hot tips on what to do when lockdown ends!

Places to eat: To me, the perfect night out must start with good food.

Ichi Ni Nana: Ichi Ni Nana is a beautiful Japanese Izakaya on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy that is perfect for either an intimate dinner or a group setting. They have a large menu that includes a variety of Japanese dishes such as edamame, massive sushi and sashimi plates as well as gyoza and donburi. Not only is the food incredible, their beverage list consists of Japanese inspired cocktails, sakes and whiskies. You can currently order online for delivery!

Rooftop garden at the Cornish Arms

Shanghai Dumpling House: On a budget? No worries. Sitting in Melbourne’s China town is this budget friendly gem. Shanghai Dumpling House is a BYO Chinese restaurant with the fastest service I have ever witnessed. Considering how cheap and fast it all was, I wasn’t expecting too high a standard on the food front, although it turned out I was pleasantly surprised. As we were in a group of seven, we ordered an abundance of dishes from the menu and every single thing they brought out was delicious. I couldn’t recommend Shanghai Dumpling House enough. Also, another hot tip, pretend it’s your birthday and the entire restaurant will sing to you.

Touche Hombre: I’ve found that in the city, Mexican food is either going to  be cheap but yummy take out like Zambreros or expensive and healthy like Fonda. I think Touche Hombre is a good mix between the two, however it does lean slightly more in the direction of Fonda. They have a good selection of tacos and other Mexican dishes, incredible guacamole, an extensive drinks menu and great vibes.

The Cornish Arms: This one is situated slightly out of the CBD but is worth the travel, especially if you’re seeking some top quality vegan dishes, as they have such an amazing and creative range of options. The Cornish Arms is a pub style restaurant so you will be paying pub like prices but I promise it’ll be worth every cent. Enjoy your meal inside by the fireplace, out in the beer garden or on their newly added rooftop section, you really can’t go wrong here!
Order online for delivery during iso

Things to do: Second step to a perfect night out, a fun activity!

Strike Bowling: When I was a kid, bowling was a pretty rare and exciting family activity but honestly, it’s even better as an adult, after a few drinks. The bowling part is just the beginning too, at Strike you can also do escape rooms and laser tag. They serve the most amazing long island iced teas at the bar and the dance floor at their Melbourne Central location is always playing the best tunes if you feel like having a boogie! Not to mention the fact that Long island ice teas are $10 on a Tuesday!

Live your pop star fantasy at Kbox

Karaoke: Every time I invite someone to karaoke their immediate reaction is “Nooo I can’t sing” but that’s the whole point of karaoke, nobody goes there to sing well, we go there to sing loudly and terribly. My favourite place to sing is KBOX on La Trobe street, you pay by the hour for a private room and purchase drinks as you go. They have such a big selection of songs from the classics, to K-pop, to the entire Disney soundtrack. As soon as lockdown is over, I’ll be heading to karaoke to sing my go to song “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House.

B. Lucky & Sons or Archie Brothers: There is nothing I love more than an arcade so when I found out there were arcades that served alcohol, I almost cried happy tears. Imagine being surrounded by drunk adults playing skee ball and dance dance revolution, it doesn’t get much better than that! B. Lucky is located in Melbourne Central, Archie Brothers is located in Docklands, they are both partner venues and are very similar so it just depends on which location is more convenient!
Escape Rooms: One of my all time favourite activities involves gathering a group of my closest friends, having someone lock us all in a room together alone and then screaming instructions at each other in order to escape from said room. I’ve done a few of these as Strike and Trapt but there are quite a lot of places in Melbourne. Just search them up and choose the one that best aligns with your skill level or interests. You can choose from themes like Alice in Wonderland, The Paranormal, Artificial Intelligence and many more!

Places to drink: Finally, if you’re not ready to go home, here are some of my favourite bars.

Workshop: Workshop is a funky venue located on Elizabeth Street, if you get there early, I recommend snatching yourself a seat in their cute outside decking area. They have a strong focus on art here so there is always something interesting to see such as live bands or emerging & established DJ’s, they even offer artists a free space to exhibit their artwork!

fancy a drink at the beautiful, Peaches?

Peaches: Not only is Peaches incredibly aesthetically pleasing, it is also such a fun venue where  time flies, with hours feeling like minutes, as you get lost in another time. The inside interior matches the name with a beautiful peachy theme, they also have a rooftop bar which is perfect for those warmer days. Another thing that impressed me about Peaches is that their food is actually… good? I never expect decent food at a bar but they are doing it right!

Section 8: Section 8 is hard to put into words, it is loud, there is often nowhere to sit and the drinks are pretty expensive but for some reason, you just want to be there. Probably due to the way it perfectly encapsulates the Melbourne style; laneways, creative decoration, and cool atmosphere. The bar is open air, they serve you drinks from a shipping container, the bathroom walls are decorated with funny comics and the live DJ is always playing the best tunes! It is especially good if you’re hanging out with someone you don’t really want to talk to because it’s almost impossible to hear anything once you’re in.

Lala Land: Lala Land is my most visited bar in Melbourne, for two very specific reasons. One, they make amazing vodka pineapples & Two, the bar tender once played Blackpink for me and it was incredible. Something else I love about Lala Land is that you can actually hear your friends speak, the music is at a delightful volume and there is always such good vibes.

Once restrictions lift, I’ll be headed straight to Shanghai Dumpling House to eat their entire menu, Karaoke at KBOX for beers and terrible singing, then off to Workshop to drink cocktail jugs and bust some moves on the dance floor. What mixture of the places mentioned would be your perfect night?

Valued at $1.43 billion per year, the Victorian live entertainment industry has long been a creative and economic force to be reckoned with. Figures show that Melbourne’s iconic performance venues housed an astounding 100,000 attendees every Friday & Saturday night alone in 2019. Live shows were as synonymous with Melbourne culture as a well-made single-origin long black. However, as the pandemic proved itself to be more forbidding than the average flu, our beloved entertainment industry was doomed to be one of the first to be shut down, and one of the last to reopen. The restrictions around opening under our new health & safety guidelines mean the already-struggling industry will be unconventional for a long time yet. But do not fear, there are plenty of drum solos and sweet riffs at the end of the tunnel!

How It Was

Cancellations and postponements swept the country from March onwards, from big-name international acts to an assortment of festivals. All sectors of the business, from three-day extravaganzas to intimate local gigs were hit fast and hard. Hundreds of thousands of jobs vanished into thin air as production crews, event planners, hospitality assistants, artists and promoters were suddenly left jobless and without a clue as to how long it would be before they could return. Government support schemes such as Jobkeeper have helped for the meantime, but as The Tote’s owner, Jon Perring, has commented, “the protections are all going to drop off somewhere around October 1. After that, if we don’t get a lifeline from the Government, you’re going to see music venues just disappear en masse.”  As well as the staggering loss in revenue, venue owners fear that their establishments may fall prey to large developers, who have been eyeing certain properties for several years. The impact that these extended closures will have on Melbourne’s music scene is unthinkable if venue owners indeed face no option but to hand over their keys.

Before the virus, most venues made the majority of their revenue not from ticket sales, but from alcohol purchases. This business model allowed many places the flexibility of charging $10 or even nothing for a performance, which not only opened up live music to all income brackets, but also made room for lesser-known artists. Unfortunately, most venues are not able to break even, let alone spin a profit, when they are not able to fill anywhere near capacity and generate the resulting alcohol sales. This means in order to adequately pay performers and crew, your average small-time gig may cost around $60 instead of $10, and for a lot of Melburnians this will be that bit too much out of pocket for some rando local band.

How It Is

In preparation of the return of live music, The Nightcat, a popular Fitzroy band room, has set the standard for a post-pandemic socially-distanced venue design. The dance floor has been replaced by tables meticulously 1.5m apart, black crosses mark the spots where performers must stand on the stage, and owner Justin Stanford has suggested running three back-to-back shows, for example at 7pm, 10pm & 1am. This could put enormous strain on an act performing three times in one evening, and a lot of punters will balk at the concept of sitting down for a show (especially metalheads like myself)! Music industry leaders are therefore reliant on the hope that their fanbase will be willing to abide the new norm in order to support this struggling industry.

The newly established Live Entertainment Industry Forum, led by former Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland, has brought together bigwigs & rivals from across the entertainment and sports industries to establish an across-the-board post-pandemic road map. Live Performance Australia has also just released a comprehensive document of Covid-safe guidelines to prepare the performance sector for reopening. These criteria offer suggestions such as; rigorous cleaning, hair & makeup to be done by performers themselves, close performers such as actors and orchestra players to wear face shields or use sneeze barriers, patrons to sign in at shows in case tracing is required, technical equipment such as microphones to be allocated and not shared, and tour venues & artists exchanging covid-safe plans, and outlining local covid testing locations.


How It Will Be

Although the state of the industry appears grim, there are many silver linings to be found. Having been locked inside for what feels like an eternity, there is an undeniable yearning across Melbourne to get out and about and have some good old-fashioned rollicking fun at a gig. After all, the roaring 20’s came right after the Spanish Influenza. Even though this was over a century ago the sentiment is still strong; if you can survive a pandemic then it’s time to party! Furthermore, with travel restrictions in place and many international stars unable to tour, this will give our homegrown heroes more opportunity to hit the stage and get their 5 minutes in the spotlight, earning recognition they may not have had otherwise. Similarly, if venues are forced to limit capacity or close entirely, we will most likely see a rise in house parties, warehouse raves, open-air events or the increasingly popular lounge room gig. Companies like Parlour Gig who help facilitate local in-house gigs will undoubtedly grow in popularity, so you may end up ditching The Corner for the Little Birdy concert happening on your very street!

At the end of the day, the live performance industry is inextricably part of the fabric of Melbourne and won’t go down without a fight. After so long in isolation it’s clear punters not only miss the shows themselves, but have developed a hankering for human connection; and what unites us more than the shared love of music? This is proven by the $890,000 raised by The Support Act Emergency Appeal who are offering crisis relief for music workers affected by the pandemic across the country, whilst many gig-goers continue to support artists by purchasing tickets to online performances. It is without a doubt our entertainment industry will survive; it might look a little different, might cost a bit more and you’ll have to make sure you’re headbanging a safe 1.5m distance from your fellow patrons, but we will survive. (And we’ll get to see some pretty fabulous performances to boot!)

From a young age, we’re filled with stories of love sparking from glances across a crowded room or shooting like a jolt of electricity the first time you hold someone’s hand. But when you’re single, living alone, and a world crisis means you can’t be out for more than an hour, where’s the room for romance? Well the answer has been on free agents’ phones for years now, dating apps.

new features from Hinge

Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and a slew of new applications every week are promising connection through isolation, and with a rise in users over the quarantine period, there still are plenty looking for that certain someone. Although, like many industries in the current era, dating apps have had to pivot with the times to pair up those lonely hearts. It used to be that after messaging with a prospective match, you’re encouraged to be brave and ask them out for a drink (caffeinated or alcoholic) in an effort to progress things further, however these nudges to the physical have been replaced to the virtual. For instance, Hinge now greets its members with the banner message, “70% of Hinge Members would be up for a phone or video call right now. No pressure, just keep it short and fun!”

Does this work though?

From personal experience, I can tell you that it does. To keep my gentlemanly status, I won’t bore you with details, but I’ve been an active user on the aforementioned apps longer than I’d care to mention. Quarantine or not, it always begins the same, you’re bored at home so you start swiping. This was the case for me back in June when an afternoon flicking through Hinge ended up with a match. After the initial rush of dopamine hit (matches = validation), I sent the all-important first message which lead to the usual, “what (insert topic here) do you like?” etc. After she listed two of her favourite bands being A Tribe Called Quest and The Velvet Underground, both near and dear to me, I knew I wasn’t going to let this conversation dissipate like so many inevitably do on the apps. With fear of Covid still thick in the air, we set up a zoom date.

Image by Kirsten King buszzfeed

Now even admitting that I’m active on these apps (let alone writing an article about it) feels like it comes with some stigma attached. I mean, Cinderella didn’t meet prince charming online. Modern Romance isn’t written in story books though, it bounces off satellites from phone to phone. In a study from last year by Stanford Socialogist, Michael Rosenfeld, he found that majority of heterosexual couples in the US met online. Leaving me to wonder if Cinderella would’ve mentioned her shoe size in the bio!

Essentially, it’s the way of the world at the moment, so if I wanted to meet someone new, it was the only avenue.

What does a zoom date look like? Like any zoom interaction at the beginning, except perhaps with wine. For my own, I sat at my desk with glass in hand and she on her bed with a glass of her own. According to the timer we spoke for a good 2 hours before the awkwardness of the situation kicked in and we said goodnight to each other.

Video calls are always full of tripping over each other’s sentences, pregnant pauses, and the narcissism you feel by constantly checking your appearance on screen (something I felt myself doing tenfold on this call, wanting to make a good impression), but in the current climate it’s a necessary step in the dance of dating. She had more experience than I, it being her third video date and my first, but I must have gotten the rhythm of the moves correct as before leaving the meeting we organized an IRL meet up.

This was back when you could walk around a park for as long as you like without a mask, simpler times, but we met up for a coffee and meandered around Carlton Gardens chatting for hours about our respective histories. However, the pandemic wasn’t on hold, so even though this felt like a step towards normality, it still came with social distancing. A first date where you don’t even hug the other person goodbye may seem quite primary school in normal contexts, but it’s the struggle of anyone looking to connect in COVID. It’d be even harder under Stage 4, unless your potential partner lives under 5km away, the likelihood of a first meet up is quite small.

What are the ramifications of contactless courtship? Overall, I would say it can help lead to deeper connections between people. When all you can do is talk and listen, it means you bond as personalities rather than bodies, which is wholesome in a way. The physical aspect doesn’t disappear completely though thanks to the loophole of “intimate partner” visits to Stage 4 Restrictions, meaning you can travel over 5km to see that special someone. Curfew still applies though.

To be honest, that loophole has been a massive saving grace for myself and many living in Melbourne. It’s an island of “normality” that can be found in this sea of restrictions. That island isn’t large though, as after walking around for an hour it’s straight back to the safety of home where you have to get creative in terms of dates. Can’t go out to dinner and a movie, build a fort and eat takeaway in there while watching the newest additions to Stan/Netflix/etc. No live gigs to see, livestream performances from the couch (be sure to clear a space for the dancefloor though). Missing out on art exhibitions, well there’s plenty of virtual tours you can take of the greatest museums in the world!

Dating is still alive and well, but like all things affected by COVID, it just looks a little different and has a few more steps to it. So I raise my metaphorical glass to all the single souls isolating at home and encourage them to keep hope strong, as it’s still possible to connect with someone through quarantine.

  1. Have a heading-to-work routine

When working from home, it’s vital that your day starts like any other. This might seem simple, but it is crucial in making sure you’re as late, stressed and overwhelmed as you typically would be. Being away from the office is no excuse to pretend you have the luxury of arriving early to work, well dressed, and just off the back of a 10km run. Snooze your alarm, spill your coffee on your crisp white shirt and swear profusely at your car’s dead battery even if you’re not leaving the driveway.

  1. Create a schedule & stick to it

Find when you work best and stick to it. Not an early bird? Start your day at 11:30pm! Have lunch at 3am! Don’t work well ever? Clock off as soon as you’ve clocked on! Your laziness will thank you!

  1. Define boundaries between home space and workspace

Struggling to separate your work and home lives? Strategically arrange Police / Crime Scene tape around your study to make sure your partner and children are too terrified to come anywhere near you! Wipe tomato sauce all over the walls with your hands for an even better effect. Don’t have a study? Build a super cool fort out of binders and dividers and pretend you are the king of your own post-it kingdom.

  1. Look after yourself

Don’t forget to look after yourself by maintaining self-care habits. Exercise (you’re right to eat an entire packet of Tim-Tams). Get adequate rest (digest said packet of Tim-Tams). Have a bath (in water, not in Tim-Tams. That would be gross).

  1. Take regular breaks

Finally, a reason to get cracking into that sourdough recipe; procrastination! Need to get work done but plain old just don’t want to do it? Spend 3 hours making a sandwich and call it a lunch break! The incentive of KPI’s have nothing on RNB’s (Really Nice Breads).

  1. Go outside

Finding the noise of screaming home-schooled children and your now unemployed partner’s Stan binges are hindering your ability to get anything done? Venture outdoors and try replacing said distractions with new and inspiring distractions. Go to Starbucks! Realise they are takeaway-only! Be that random weirdo sipping an extra-foam-extra-hot-caramel-1/4 shot-latte writing his bestselling novel sitting on the footpath outside! Be soothed by the deluge of Karens hollering at the staff that they’re not allowed to sit down inside and discuss Eat Pray Love at length! You’ll be amazed how much you’ll feel like banging your head against a wall like you usually do at the office.

  1. Pump the tunes

Can’t concentrate from the sound of the neighbour’s incessant leaf-blowing and whipper-snippering? Put on a playlist! Some may suggest a Hans Zimmer marathon or maybe the classic death metal / jazz fusion. You may however just need the stimulating sounds of document sorting, keyboard tapping and printer jamming to truly get yourself into the corporate mindset. If the endless ‘Office Ambience’ YouTube videos aren’t enough you can always clog the kitchen tap for a cheap and convenient dripping-water-cooler imitation.

  1. Use the right tools & equipment

Finding yourself squirming in your ergonomic office chair? Get some more blood to your brain by strapping your feet to the roof and hanging like a bat. Duct tape your keyboard to the floor. Sticky tape your phone to the wall. Watch productivity (and the size of the veins on your head) triple!

  1. Stay away from social media

Although it may be the only platform that lets us pretend we are outside, your social media feeds are probably only going to be depressing drivel about how the world is falling apart anyway. Why look at memes about how hard it is to get any work done from home when you yourself have become a living breathing meme thanks to your inability to concentrate on anything for more than 5 minutes? It is far too tempting to watch the neighbour trim her exquisite roses, or the poor postie trying to jam your enormous Amazon parcel into your little letterbox. Hilarious! Wait, what was I saying?

  1. Have excessive amounts of meetings

Thought working from home meant finally having a break from your incessantly petulant colleagues and co-workers? Think again! Introducing the Working 2, Zoom Boogaloo! Featuring the original cacophony of deadlines and terms such as ‘as per my last email’, you can now enjoy the added features of ear-shattering microphone static, 90s-paced internet speed and awkward apologising as five people perpetually start talking at once, then stop, then start again. Who’s even running this bloody meeting?!

His alarm goes off. This can’t be right, he thinks, as he glares at the darkness outside. The chill has sheathed his window in a forbidding white frost. The sun hasn’t even bothered to make an appearance and yet the boss has decreed he must! How did he ever do this, 5 days a week, EVERY week?! Why are pants obligatory?! How does one wash one’s hair? Why must his exercise extend from simple walks between the fridge and the couch?

Gone are the somewhat amusing days of enforced Netflix binges, sourdough-making, questionable drinking habits and occasional working. Throwing himself into the shower, he curiously examines the hairs he forgot he must pluck and trim into submission. He rummages through the laundry basket, searching for the least offensive-smelling thing. Black blazer? Bingo! Hastily attempting to brush crusted 3-day-old Bolognese from the sleeve, without much success, he decides to stop questioning why food ends up where it does anymore.

Slurping down yesterday’s leftover coffee, he drags himself to the tram stop. Man, it’s cold! he thinks. Has it always been this cold? Did the walk to the tram stop always take 9 minutes? Seems excessive. I could have been to the fridge and back 3 times by now! He boards with caution. The vibe is tense. Some cling to their gloves and masks with unyielding fervor, 1.5m-marked tape measures in hand. Others lounge and touch their faces and press buttons with reckless abandon.

He arrives at the office, where the painfully cheery receptionist greets him with more pizazz than he can handle right now. She mentions something about ‘Casual Monday, hey?’. He looks down. Bugger! Pyjama pants (printed with pictures of his dog of course) and bear-foot slippers; he knew he forgot something! At least his dog is dapper as hell. Dumping his things down on one of the Flexi desks, he attempts to sit in his fancy ergonomic seat, only to crumple to the floor. Seems months of lounging around on the couch have impeded his ability to use a chair. Hmm. Wait, you know this, he says to himself, just try to remember. Something about bending the knees? Ah, there we are! Someone is talking softly on the opposite side of the office floor; it’s infuriating. He pines for the sound of his cats demanding their 3rd breakfast and parkour-ing around the apartment; how can he possibly concentrate without them?

A well-meaning co-worker approaches for some casual small talk; he rapidly blathers about Tiger King and how long his personalised Thigh Master 3000 is taking to arrive. Confused co-worker leaves without a word. Human interaction is more difficult than expected. He opens his laptop for his weekly Zoom meeting; it takes a surprising amount of effort to break the keyboard-to-screen adhesive of red wine spills & old pizza crumbs. His colleague says, ‘Hi hello I’m right opposite you, you don’t need to use Zoom we can just talk in person’. Staring menacingly at the screen while stroking his impressive Covid beard, he glares at his insistent colleague who is waffling on about all sorts of numbers and KPI’s that pillage his mushy sleepy brain. This meeting is definitely something he could have been half-watching while catching up on the latest murder docuseries from the couch. He just wants to know if Carole Baskin did it or not! Casually he bashes the mute button, but this is ineffective. Pesky colleague shoots him a look from across the desk.  Surely there’s some sort of technology to bring muting to the workplace. Or at the very least a funky background like a pug in space or a tranquil beach in the Maldives? The ability to leave the country; weren’t those the golden days.

It slips into the afternoon. He has already missed two naptimes and is not happy that he is getting far too much work done – the bar was satisfyingly lower at home. Apparently snack time has been banished for the health and safety of the members – but who’s looking out for the health and safety of his 3pm grumblies? Usually he’d be working on his Covid procrastination project by now, attempting to turn his cats into dogs, but it’s taking a lot more work than expected. All he wants is for them to walk placidly in a harness and fetch the newspaper and maybe a can of VB when so instructed. They hate him for it but at least the aggressive hissing keeps other walkers 1.5m away!

The sun leaves before he does, and now again he must embark on his bothersome commute home. Finally, he plods down his cul-de-sac, the front porch light a beacon of squalid comfort and lazy times so thoroughly enjoyed in the recent months. He opens the door and is greeted not by the luxury he remembers but a house in shambles; coffee cups piled in a mouldy steeple, cat hair on the roof, half-drunk wine bottles in the bathroom and Netflix asking if he is still there. Maybe home wasn’t all he remembered it to be? Sure, his crochet and beer homebrewing skills have never been better but having a shower and talking to actual humans in the flesh can be nice sometimes too. The receptionist was certainly happy to see him! Thank goodness lockdown restrictions are easing at last. Looks like returning to life as we used to know it might just be in sight.

26 minutes later: Actually, scratch that. 6 weeks more of stage 3 lockdown. Showering and socialising have nothing on 6 weeks in bed re-watching ‘You’. The self-indulgence continues.

The pandemic has brought on a level of social isolation we have never experienced before, many lives have changed drastically in such a short amount of time. Some have gone months without seeing friends and loved ones which can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression. Right now, it’s especially important that we look out for each other and offer support where possible. As an employer, or even just a member of a team, there are several things you can do to help your staff and ensure they have the resources needed during this uncertain time.

Scheduling regular catch-ups and encouraging socialisation

When the team is split up and everyone is working from home, one of the most important things you should do as an employer is keep everyone feeling connected to one another and their roles. At The Cluster, socialising is not only one of the most important parts of our day but also something we all love to do! Not being able to spend time with each other and our members at Friday night drinks or just around the office has been extremely difficult, so together we’ve worked really hard on keeping The Cluster spirit alive via staff meetings, one-on-ones, virtual Friday night drinks and the Cluster Community discord channel. Staff meetings and individual catch-ups ensure everyone is still discussing work but we are also being encouraged to socialise with each other regularly about anything and everything! A rotating buddy system has been implemented where each week, we are assigned a different staff member to chat to each day. It’s been lovely keeping in contact with the team and discussing things other than work or the pandemic. Recently I was paired with Nathan who got engaged – hearing that wonderful news was like a breath of fresh air!

Cluster staff drinks during quarantine

Allowing flexibility

With your employees spending most of their time out of the office, you may be capable of allowing more flexible working hours. At The Cluster, we have been allocated a certain amount of hours per week with the option of using these however we like (within reason of course). We still need to ensure we are working hours that overlap with other staff members so we can communicate effectively and where possible, we need to be available for staff and one-on-one meetings throughout the week. Flexible working hours can be extremely beneficial for your employees mental health as it provides them with the opportunity to do the life admin tasks that they may not be able to do when coming into the office each day, such as visiting a doctor or other health professional, doing their groceries or even just taking a walk. Flexibility also allows your employees to adapt to their family situations too if needed, this is especially helpful for your staff with children or loved ones who require extra support.

Providing the team with structure

It’s so easy to fall out of your usual routine when you no longer need to commute into work each day but losing the structure of your week can have a seriously negative impact on your mental health. Everything is so uncertain right now that having a routine can feel like an anchor, keeping you steady. You may not know when you’ll be able to see your friends and family again but knowing you’ll wake up at 7:00am and eat lunch at 1:00pm each day gives you a form of stability. Having a routine has been proven to reduce stress levels, it takes away the pressure of needing to plan our day on the spot and can give us a sense of control that may currently be hard to grasp. As an employer, you should ensure your team has a weekly roster with breaks and catch ups included. Keep in touch with them each day and see to it that they have enough assigned tasks with the necessary resources to complete them.


click on the image above to find some great resources for those struggling through quarantine

Mental Health Resources

It’s okay to admit that you’re struggling with your mental health right now. Even if you’ve never experienced any issues previously, times are tough and a pandemic is sure to bring all sorts of unwanted emotions to surface. The most important thing anyone can do when they’re struggling is reach out for help. There’s some amazing information and support you can access online or via telephone including:

Head to Health

has an amazing page full of resources such as tips for maintaining good mental health, information for parents and how to access mental health services if needed. Click on the image above to check out what they offer.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

This website is packed with helpful resources such as videos and articles containing professional advice, tips for staying calm, healthy positive and connected, how to have conversations about coronavirus with children and the elderly as well as a tonne of support contacts for when you need to talk to someone.

In late 2010, YouTube made a change to their platform that would introduce a whole new world to the site. It took away the time restriction of 15 minutes per video and raised it to… at the time, few really knew. The announcement of the rise in length was not massively publicised and many casual viewers wouldn’t have noticed a dramatic change in the runtime for videos. Then came a little pop tart cat flying across an 8-bit galaxy with a rainbow trail in tow, and it soon became clear what we were all in for!

Nyan Cat, for those unaware, is a three and a half minute long animation of a strawberry pop tart with the head, legs and tail of a cat. It bobs along to a background of digital stars with a repetitive synth soundtrack and enough meows for a lifetime. It’s a cute video, but I don’t think I’ve ever finished the whole thing for fear of my ears bleeding.

Nyan Cat in flight

Nyan Cat’s true legacy though, didn’t come until 24 days after it’s upload, when a channel called “TehN1ppe” uploaded essentially the same video but looped for 10 hours! It quickly became an endurance test and viral challenge to view the whole thing, and there was no shortage of people willing to accept. Its popularity (currently sitting at 94 million views) sparked a wave of memes and other simple videos to be stretched to the mammoth runtime. To try and list them all is a fool’s errand, but these joke videos gave rise to something that I think is truly special.

When irony steps aside, sincerity can shine though, and that’s what happened with 10-hour videos. People started to seriously consider, “what would someone want to watch for 10 hours? Clearly there’s an audience!”

One answer to this question is something I like to call, “ambient videos”, ones designed to melt into the background and enhance the mood of a room. You’ve all seen the main example of this at a few of our End of Month drinks, the 10-hour fireplace, which promises a “romantic moment” to the viewer…

Can a moment last 36,086 seconds?

uploaded by, Fireplace 10 Hours

Our intentions are more, HR appropriate, when we use the video. It’s something about those eternal flames crackling away that can actually trick you into feeling warmer, even transport you to some log cabin lost in the middle of Black Hills, South Dakota (or Grampians, Victoria for a more local reference).

In fact, the flames look so real that it once caused an event being held in our penthouse event space, The Lounge, to be raided by a group of firemen suited up to assault hell itself! A concerned citizen in a nearby building had seen the video being projected and mistook it for an actual fire. The fireman couldn’t help but laugh when they saw the two-dimensional threat.

Ambient videos don’t seek your attention like most of the content on YouTube, they’re designed to be forgotten. In that regard, they carry on a tradition that has been alive in music since the turn of the 20th Century.  In 1917, French composer, Erik Satie, coined the term “musique d’ameublement” (furniture music) to describe his compositions. He didn’t want you to focus on the music he made, quite the opposite, he wanted it to be so unimportant that it was like furniture in the room. If you listen to his work and those of artists like John Cage or Brian Eno, who progressed this idea to “ambient music”, you can get a sense of what Satie meant.

For those reading this saying, “what the fuck is ambient music?” I would point you to the aforementioned Eno’s, Ambient 1: Music for Airports. It is a truly beautiful album of minimal compositions that I think offer something that most music/entertainment robs you of, the space to think! Listening to Ambient 1, it’s hard not to be meditative and relaxed, the album’s designed to chill people out in a crowded airport so it works extra well on one person at home!

10-hour videos function in the same way. Their simplicity and length means you’re not going to be looking at the screen constantly while they’re on. You’re allowed the mental freedom to dream, work, create, or simply relax. They also remove a layer of distraction, as the screen that is normally used for surfing the web or binging on Netflix docos, is hijacked for a decade of hours. I think there is a comfort in that commitment. Whenever I need to get serious about focusing on a project, one thing I’ll do is put on a 10-hour video, so that I can ease in and get lost to the runtime. I know it’ll be going for as long as I need to finish my work.

uploaded by, SlowTV Relax&Background

Even while writing this article, I’m currently watching a volcano eruption in real time. Getting lost in the sparks whenever I need a second to mentally compose a sentence (That one took a couple seconds). I’ve used this one before and I can’t fully articulate why it speaks so much to me, but there’s something in those dull rumbles and cascading embers that gets my brain working. It may not work the same for you, but with so many options it doesn’t need to. You have the choice of watching Rain or snow fall, cosmic simulations, travel on a country train, watch whales sing or even simple nothingness! The variations are as boundless as the videos themselves.

So next time you have a project that requires extra attention, or just chilling at home reading a book, I implore you to experiment with some 10-hour videos and find one that suits you. If you are open to falling under their spell, I promise they offer a great ROI!

8:32  – Arrive to work 28 minutes early due to an unsettling, yet very convenient, lack of traffic. Appearing super committed has never been easier than during a crisis.

8:34 – Elevator doors part. There is already a gentleman inside. We stare at each other trying to figure out if I get in or he gets out or we both just commit and risk it for the ‘Rona. I’ve forgotten how to socialise so do the polite thing and hide in the corner until the door closes.

8:45 – Discuss the weekend news with the coffee machine. He can be a little hot-headed.

9:12 – Not a single member is in sight or earshot. Nearly leap over the desk at a member coming in to collect his mail. Try to say hello to realise I have forgotten how to talk. Manage to mumble a mouthful of absolute nonsense. He takes his envelopes and slowly backs out the door.

9:44 – This absolute silence is very distracting. I put on a YouTube video of people chewing loudly and making repetitive sales calls to concentrate.

10:23 – Sneeze loudly to see if anyone says ‘bless you’. Its echo reminds me of my solitude

11:30 – Burst into tears when I see the postie. Try to coax her to stay with various compliments of how dashing she looks in high-vis. She hands me the letters individually so she can soothe my deprived extrovert nerves.

11:35 – Postie leaves. Again I am alone with only envelopes to talk to.

12:17 – Lunch time. Heat up salmon in the microwave, hoping someone materialises to quietly huff about the smell. Nothing but delicious fish. Stare longingly out at the city from my lonely but beautiful clear prison.

12:29 – There were 43 red cars today.

13:03 – Phone rings. Have an in-depth, 45-minute conversation about free LED lights. She was disappointed when I finally said we already had them but sent my best wishes to her sister for the upcoming wedding and to her uncle for his ear problems.

13:45 – Stick post-it notes in the shape of a face and torso on the chair next to me. It’s just nice to have someone there. Rowena is a great listener.

14:27 – It’s been an hour and half since the phone rang. I book a courier to deliver something to myself. He is pleased for the short commute. I’m pleased for a small morsel of conversation. I tip him in jellybeans.

15:00 – Decide keeping a normal routine is crucial to maintaining sanity, therefore, we cannot afford to sacrifice 3pm snack time! Demolish entire bag of chips (its simply unhygienic to share and there’s no one here to judge me anyway).

15:04 – Wish I’d had fruit instead.

15:49 – Get checkmate’d by my own hand in chess. Morning Eva definitely has more strategy than post-Doritos Eva. I wish the postie would come back

16:12 – Walk around to tidy – search for signs of intelligent life – an abandoned glass, desktop coffee stains, a mysteriously small and tidy pile of peanuts, anything. There is nothing. I carry my broom in vain.

16:31 – My keyboard is 22 almonds long. Who knew?

16:49 – Ask The Cluster gods to please, please deliver me a human to talk to tomorrow. Gods say ‘no there is a virus and that’s very dangerous and haven’t you heard the news’

16:56 – The phone rings. It’s a member. She’s coming in tomorrow. Hope returns.

17:02 – Leave with a skip in my step. It’s going to be a good week.

Moral of the story: When you are good and ready to return, please come and say hello to reception. I still have some jellybeans you can have!

Why Animal Crossing: New Horizons is helping many get through the Pandemic with a smile.

If you’ve been on Social Media over the past few months (which I shall assume you have) you’ve probably seen countless posts about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but what is Animal Crossing and why won’t people stop talking about it?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation video game by Nintendo. The game places you on a deserted island with nothing but a tent, two other anthropomorphic islanders, a raccoon landlord named Tom Nook and his two shopkeeper sons, Timmy and Tommy.

It may not sound too exciting to some, but try telling that to the 25,000+people who signed the fan-created petition to release the game early.

The first few goals of the game are simple – upgrade your house, build up your island by planting flowers and have another eight islanders move into their own island homes. The final goal for the early part of the game is to get the extremely cool and ever popular musician K.K. Slider to deem your island worthy of travelling to fora concert. Reaching this milestone made for a perfect Saturday night – Imagine – sitting on the couch, eating pizza and watching him (your new found favourite artist) perform my, and soon to be your, favourite song ‘Bubblegum K.K.’

My Islander outsider her house

Why is Animal Crossing: New Horizons the perfect game to play during a pandemic?

It’s incredible for anxiety relief. I’ve found that by switching off and completing mindless tasks such as weeding my island, planting countless flowers and chatting to my fellow islanders has been truly soothing during such an anxious time.

Despite the pandemic and not being able to leave the house, every day on my island feels new and exciting. Whether it be an event such as “Bunny Day” (ACNH version of Easter), a new neighbour moving in or just some funky new clothes in the Able Sisters Tailor Shop, I feel excited to get out of bed and see what’s waiting for me!

You feel like you’re being productive, even if you haven’t changed out of your pyjamas. Tom Nook starts out by giving you tasks like crafting furniture for new islander’s homes, paying off your (incredibly expensive) home loans and building bridges/inclines to make getting around your island easier. There are also lots of special visitors to your island who will provide you with activities such as CJ the live-streaming beaver and fish enthusiast or Gulliver the Sailor Seagull who is terrible at travelling and continuously washes up on your islands shore.

There’s a very fun social aspect to the game.You can visit your friends or have them visit you whilst still adhering to the Social Distancing guidelines. All you need to do is head down to the airport and chat to the ironically in-charge Dodo, who will fly you over to whichever friend’s island you desire. I’ve been spending a lot of time over on my friend Lavender’s Jurassic Park themed island, Isla Sorna. We can give each other gifts, snap some photos and go on a virtual date to the museum all from the safety of our own homes!

It’s adorable. There’s truly no way to explain how cute this game is. Even my 27-year-old, intensely strategic,action-adventure video game loving fiancé bypassed purchasing DOOM Eternal to instead purchase Animal Crossing: New Horizons and has since racked up 120 hours. In fact, everyone on my friends list has played for over 100 hours at least.

In my opinion, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is not only the perfect game to play during a Pandemic but also the best game ever released. I truly hope you all enjoy this game as much as I do, I can’t wait to see what you do with your own islands!

My islander’s celebrating the upgrade of our store, Nook’s Cranny

As we all are spending more time indoor these days, it is the perfect time to create your own urban indoor jungle and bring healing nature to your home. Tending to your plants and seeing new life developing gives hope. Not only do they look great, but houseplants offer a whole range of benefits, from purifying our air to boosting our health – in a situation like the current one, taking the time to slow down and tend to our leafy friends is a great way to calm your mind.

Keen to green your house but not sure where to start? I have picked 4 ISO easy-care for you, these sturdy indoor plants are almost impossible to kill — plus, they’re gorgeous!!

Spider Plant. Don’t let the common name of this amazing houseplant scare you off. The personality of the spider plant infuses your bedroom with fun and fresh air.

Most people know the spider plant, also known as the airplane plant, from its ability to produce multiple “pups” on shoots that dangle from the mother plant.You may choose to leave these baby plants in place, or clip them and repot for gifts or for added greenery elsewhere. Some have plain green leaves while other varieties are variegated with cream or white stripes.Spider plants grow in all kinds of light with average moisture.

Care Tips: Spider plants are not picky about water, light, or temperature, keep the soil evenly moist


Monstera Deliciosa is a beautiful tropical evergreen that makes a large and attractive indoor specimen plant. If you don’t have green fingers,  caring for the Monstera Deliciosa is surprisingly easy because it prefers to be left alone. They’re quite happy indoors, and need lots of space: put it in a statement-making spot in the living room, rather than in a tight corner or on a windowsill. If you’re looking for some front room wow-factor this low-care monster will certainly give you a show. Hardy and beautiful, the Monstera vine has large glossy splitting leaves that can reach an incredible 2-4 ft size themselves.

Care Tips: Only moderate levels of watering are required here. When you do water make sure you aim to get all of the compost evenly moist, then wait until it has almost dried out before watering again. Keep in a fairly humid environment.  Monstera likes a light position, but not in full sun. Those majestic leaves can get dusty. Dust makes it harder for it to absorb light, so give the leaves a gentle wipe if they look grubby.

Succulents are the ideal houseplant, especially if you have limited space. Caring for succulents can be easy – because these plants are native to drought prone areas, they store water to last them through long periods with little or no water. This feature makes them ideal as indoor-home plants. Easy-to-grow succulents come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures. Echeveria is one of the most popular, along with haworthia, sansevieria, aloe and many others.

Care Tips: Succulents do not like to live in wet soil. As plants accustomed to high temperatures and little moisture. They may rot, contract disease, or die if over watered. Make sure you let the soil dry between waterings. Potting in a planter that has slots for drainage can help prevent over watering. Don’t use a spray bottle to water your succulents—misting can cause brittle roots and moldy leaves.


Syngonium gets its name “Arrowhead Plant” from the triangular shape of its green leaves. There are many named varieties. Choose a plant based on the color and size you want. Among the most popular are ‘Butterfly’ that features deep-green leaves with creamy white veins…’Pixie’ is a compact cultivar with small leaves…’Fantasy’ is stunning with green leaves marbled with white. Some newer cultivars are flushed with pink. When young, arrowhead vine forms a bushy mound; over time the plants will begin to vine, making them ideal for hanging baskets or training up a totem.

Care Tips: Syngonium varieties are easy care plants as long as you remember to water them. They are low light tolerant houseplants and will grow virtually anywhere in your home. Water only when the soil feels dry to the touch.


I hope this will give you some inspiration to start growing your collection! Don’t forget to share your new found gems with us on Discord and I will be sharing more easy house plants and caring tips on the coming post! Happy planting!