The office kitchen has evolved from a humble eating space and coffee corner into a diverse meeting area. We look at why this is an essential part of your office fit out.
We often say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s not really a surprise considering that this is where so many memories are made and enjoyed - it could be where your family recipes are passed down, or even just where you enjoy your favourite snack or takeaway. So with the kitchen being at the heart of domestic life, is it really at the centre of our corporate lives as well?
The office kitchen has evolved in recent years, with more and more influence being taken from domestic interiors. This has seen the office kitchen transform from a utilitarian eating space into a collaboration and engagement hub; it’s where cultures and cuisines mix, ideas are shared and teams come together.
Being the central point of an office and separated from teams' spaces, an open plan and versatile kitchen provides an un-bookable space for relaxed catch-ups on neutral turf. If you’re after an informal meeting over a coffee, then just pop into the kitchen. This helps maximise the use of space, by providing somewhere for informal meetings in the morning and afternoon, while using the same seating for meals during the peak lunch hours of 12-2pm.
An office kitchen is a fantastic place for serendipitous and impromptu conversations, and increases the number of chance encounters with people from across the business. As colleagues see each other frequently and by chance, this helps to build relationships and rapport with teams that may not necessarily interact with each other on a daily basis.
Having somewhere to store food and prepare a meal means that staff are less inclined to eat out in expensive or unhealthy fast food restaurants. This helps with staff wellbeing, as it assists in enabling your teams to maintain a stable and healthy diet throughout the working day, rather than relying on takeaway food. While this is down to individual choice, enabling facilities are the first step in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Providing breakfast essentials (milk, bread and butter) also encourages your staff to have a proper breakfast and start the day full of energy; ensuring their concentration lasts through the morning to lunch.
If your office design doesn’t have enough space for a number of large meeting rooms, an open plan kitchen is a great way to have a focal point where staff can gather for team updates or announcements. It also acts as a central meeting point for teams from different divisions to come together and interact. This was a cornerstone of our fit out for AMC Networks, who wanted to raise the profile of IT throughout the company. The kitchen was built on the ground floor and designed with strikingly bold Mediterranean influenced tiles to provide a distinct look and area for employees from across the business to meet. We then placed the IT service desk next to the kitchen so that staff could easily pop in and ask a question, or drop their devices off to be fixed while they have a coffee or panini.
The kitchen doesn't always have to be a working space reserved for lunch and meetings. It could be somewhere for staff to relax and get away from their everyday role and responsibilities. FirstRand Bank were after a kitchen that was the the pinnacle of urban cool, providing somewhere for staff to relax and let their hair down. In addition to a sleek fully-functional office kitchen, the space was expanded to include a ping pong table and integrated wet bar for staff social events. The area was finished off with an element of New York cool through sleek black cupboards, exposed bricks and wooden worktops.
Whether or not it's to promote wellbeing, host social events, or even just provide somewhere to eat; we can agree that the kitchen is just as integral to the office as it is to the home.