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Office kitchen: a perk or a must-have?

Kitchen: the heart of every house, is now also becoming one of the most important spaces in the office. It is where employees come to regenerate, meet people from other departments, chat and network. In a modern office space, the kitchen plays an increasingly important role, and although it is one of the most frequented places in the office, only now companies are learning how to exploit its potential.

Kitchen is generally associated with homely warmth, cosiness, good food, appetising smells and a friendly atmosphere. In an office, the space performs three basic functions: firstly, it is where people consume (and sometimes also prepare) meals, secondly, it is a regeneration and rest zone, and most importantly, a place where workers integrate with their colleagues. Since we spend at least eight hours a day at work, it is very important that employees can peacefully eat their meals in comfortable conditions. After all, supplying the body with the right nutrients is one of the basic needs of man. The kitchen is where you can take a breather, break away from office duties, de-stress and regenerate. It is where workers meet, talk and exchange knowledge over a cup of coffee. This way of communicating information integrates the team and brings it together, thus facilitating future collaboration.

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Research shows that 70% of interactions between employees take place outside rooms intended strictly for meetings [1] comments Anna Dziadkowiec, Senior Workplace Research & Analysis Consultant, Nowy Styl Group. Cosy and warm interiors are much more pleasant to work and stay in. Stimulating the sense of taste in unique spaces creates the right atmosphere, helps one regenerate and relax.

 

Designing the kitchen

Since the role of the kitchen is increasingly important today, no wonder more attention is being paid to its décor. It has to encourage users to stay there, it needs to be cosy and atmospheric, like a popular cafe. Consequently, kitchen spaces are increasingly being furnished with intriguing patterns, various colours, diverse material textures and unconventional solutions designed to provide employees with a moment of relaxation and a break from work-related matters.

What is more, as offices started growing and transforming rapidly, it was noted that the job of planning the look of an office and its furniture should not be left to the administration or purchasing department but, as a considerable arrangement project, it should involve workplace industry professionals such as architects, consultants and product experts. When designing a kitchen, such expanded teams make sure that it performs the three functions mentioned before.

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Creating a big, multifunctional kitchen to serve all employees is a major investment challenge, where the end user and their comfort level while staying in the space must always be kept in mind - says Anna Dziadkowiec. - Making employees part of that process (all or some of it) makes it easy to spot all shortcomings, while it also improves their identification with and responsibility for the workplace, and commitment to the life of the company.

 

Coffee point, kitchen or canteen?

The latest trends in architecture, drawing on home or cafe interiors, have given office kitchens some new functions and forms. We can distinguish between three basic types of kitchen spaces: coffee points, kitchens and canteens.

3 types of office kitchens

Coffee points

Small kitchenettes where coffee, tea and refreshments for visitors can be prepared, sometimes with a small table for quick conversations; they are usually scattered around different parts of the office.

Banque Populaire, France

Kitchens

Large rooms where you can not only prepare a meal, but also consume it in a larger group of people, or even hold a meeting over coffee.

Brainly, Poland

Canteens

Kitchens equipped with catering facilities, where employees can not only eat a meal, but also buy it from an external company; canteens are often found on the ground floor of large office buildings or in factory and office facilities.

Visualisation example

The different kitchen types frequently coexist in one office: companies often choose to have their own, even small kitchen as well as many coffee points scattered around the office, in addition to a generally available canteen on the ground floor of the building.

A perfect kitchen?

There is no single perfect formula for a good kitchen. Its size, furnishings and design depend on many factors, primarily the needs of the specific company. The main guideline in arranging and fitting out a kitchen is the space available and the number of employees in the office. With these two variables in mind, you should pay attention to aspects such as suitable equipment adjusted to the number of users (cabinets, dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machine, water dispensers, cutlery and dishes), consumables (milk, coffee, kitchen towels), furniture (tables, coffee tables, armchairs, sofas), acoustic solutions (panels, soft seating), plants (they create a naturally pleasant atmosphere, help to relax and relieve your eyes, tired of looking at the computer). 

The functionality of a kitchen is largely determined by good and thoughtful design, so when planning a new office you should spend some time creating, together with an architect, a practical and customised concept of the space.

 

[1] Springer, T. (1992). Improving Productivity in the Workplace: Reports from the Field. St. Charles, IL: Springer Associates.

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