Is the kitchen at the heart of your workplace?
The kitchen is undoubtedly the heart of the home, but can the same be said for the workplace? With the rise of cafe and coffee culture in the workplace, we think so. The office kitchen has evolved in recent years, changing from a purely functional environment with space for eating, and a fridge, kettle and microwave, to a hub for collaboration and engagement, where employees can meet and chat as they grab a coffee or eat their lunch.
The modern office kitchen plays a vital role in the workplace, particularly as more and more employers understand the importance of work-life balance, employee wellbeing and staff health. If designed properly and with careful thought, your office kitchen can offer so much more than simply a place to prepare and eat food, it can be a multi-functional zone that can help you get the most out of your employees. The price of owning or renting an office space is skyrocketing, so it’s vital to make the most of the space you do have. It’s no secret that in the modern, candidate-driven job market, businesses are having to work hard to attract the best talent, and a well-designed office is often seen by candidates as being just as important as a competitive salary and other benefits. In fact, office design is increasingly being used to attract and retain the best talent, and the office kitchen should not be an exception to this. On top of the kitchen basics (meaning your microwave, fridge and sink), there are many things to consider and many ideas to explore when designing a kitchen space. The office kitchen is often ignored, but putting some thought into the layout and design of your kitchen is a really effective way to ensure you’re ahead of the game and offering the best for your team.
The ability to take regular breaks away from the desk is very important for a workforce. Being tied to your desk for a long period of time without moving around can have negative repercussions for your health and wellbeing. The kitchen area can act as a place where employees can take a break, grab a coffee and spend a few minutes away from their desk. It’s now acknowledged that rather than hindering productivity, taking regular breaks to decompress and relax can positively impact wellbeing which, in turn, improves productivity and creativity.
Having comfortable seating, good lighting and enough room so your team aren’t squashed in will make the office kitchen the go-to place for breaks. Not only will this help individuals stay focussed and be less stressed, it can open up lots of possibilities for cross-department collaboration, idea sharing and communication. If you have a lot of space to fill, consider adding communal activities and/or games, such as a pool table, to help encourage communication between colleagues.
Fuel Productivity with Food & Drink
As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and in order to ensure you’re working at your best, you need to fuel your body appropriately. Having a properly-equipped office kitchen gives your staff somewhere to prepare healthy meals and drinks, meaning that the days of a quick sandwich or fast food at their desks will be long gone. As research continues to show the importance of wellbeing and good health, many companies are using their kitchen to promote healthier eating habits. Not only because of the ability to prepare and cook your own food, but also because a dedicated eating space will discourage staff from eating at their desks, as they choose instead to sit and eat with colleagues.
Take it one step further and offer healthy snacks and beverages to your team. Research has shown that offering fresh fruit can increase energy and productivity by 10%! A huge increase for such a small investment. Similarly, offering a first-class coffee experience in the office is vital for modern employees. As consumers have become more knowledgeable about the coffee they drink, their expectations have grown, and a jar of instant coffee will no longer suffice. Office coffee is a huge market in the UK, and the number of us enjoying a cup of coffee each day has soared to 95 million! We know from extensive research and client feedback that high-quality coffee is not only an important perk to offer in the workplace, but can also have a range of health benefits and enhance productivity, so investing in a high-quality coffee machine, such as TopBrewer, will be a great addition to your kitchen.
The kitchen can act as a central point of your office, offering a location to meet informally, away from desks and traditional meeting rooms. Acting as a neutral zone, separate from team spaces and individual offices, a versatile kitchen with adequate seating and a great coffee machine will be a valuable part of your workplace. If your office doesn’t have the space for a variety of meeting rooms, your kitchen is a great alternative space where employees can gather for meetings or announcements. The kitchen can also be a great place for individuals to work, as breaking the pattern of working at your desk can help creativity.
When designing an office kitchen space, it’s easy to get caught up in the details, but first and foremost the space needs to be practical and comfortable. Functionality must be a priority, or you risk the space not being used at all. Look at what you want to achieve from the space and start from there. For example, if you want the kitchen to double as an informal workspace, you need to ensure your WiFi is strong enough for your team to work there. If you want it to be a place for colleagues to catch up over a coffee, make sure there’s adequate seating and a coffee machine that can deliver a high volume of drinks.
If a re-design of your space isn’t possible, think about what your team would value most and try to incorporate it into the space. Little changes, often costing little, can have just as big an impact as a total redesign. Can you add more seating, so your employees can congregate in the kitchen to catch up? A great cup of coffee is expected from any workplace, so one way to instantly improve your kitchen is to offer a first-class coffee experience for your employees. According to the 2017 Leesman Index, 82% of respondents said that tea, coffee and refreshment facilities were a highly important factor in the office environment. A stylish yet functional bean-to-cup coffee machine like TopBrewer would be perfect for a kitchen environment, as the super-quiet under-counter brew unit means that employees aren’t interrupted by grinding beans, so they can chat and share ideas whilst waiting for their fresh drink.
Today’s office kitchen has come a long way from the utilitarian space it was just a few years ago. A properly designed kitchen can be a great multi-functional zone, offering a space to eat, grab a coffee, work or catch up with work colleagues. If executed properly, it will be a real asset to the workspace and can act as a focal point of the business.