The kitchen is the beating heart of an office, so what should you look out for when integrating one into your plans? When considering an office kitchen, is it function over form or can you find a happy medium between the two? The kitchen is where most people socialise between deep concentration and meetings, so it has to be a welcoming, but useful space.
In a busy office environment, minimal downtime can be key in enabling greater productivity. To ensure no time is wasted during working hours, it would be advisable to add certain tools which would help speed up tasks that may usually take longer. Installing water boilers or hot water taps will allow hot drinks and snacks to be made instantly.
Installing integrated fridges will allow employees to store food and reduce any need to leave the premises to buy fresh food. This in turn enables them to feel like they have had a longer break, when in fact it will still probably be shorter than the time it took to go out and fetch food, then return and eat it.
Adding dishwashers will reduce time taken at the end of lunch and eliminate the need for washing up rotas (although someone will still have to load and empty these!). Though seemingly small additions to your office kitchen that may seem like they reduce time by only a fraction, these few extra minutes add up, allowing more time to be spent on more meaningful jobs than waiting for your kettle to boil!
When designing your office kitchen, it is important to keep in mind how functional your kitchen will be, and to work with the space given to you. Trying to cram in lots of different appliances that you don’t have the space for will result in a cluttered, undesirable work space. Instead it is recommended that you take time initially to evaluate what space you have, what appliances you need and what would look best.
Once you have considered the essentials such as fridges, cooking appliances like microwaves or hobs and a hot water source, other non-essential requirements can be considered and accommodated if space and finances allow.
Do you have sufficient storage space and cabinets? If not, you might want to think about including sturdy wall shelves or countertop organisers. You could also want to consider installing a bar or floating island to increase your kitchen's cupboard and countertop space.
Do you have room for tables and chairs in your office kitchen? Consider a bar area with stools to maximise space. For teams who put in hard effort and long hours, making the kitchen and dining space as accessible and comfortable as possible is a huge plus; it demonstrates your commitment towards their well-being and shows that you value them as part of your team rather than simply employees.
Where possible, it is a nice idea to provide your team with casual and comfortable break out spaces to spend their lunchtime, preferably away from the hustle and bustle of the office, the phones and the demands on their time.
Whilst some people are happy to work through their breaks occasionally if required, many prefer, and quite rightly so, to have a complete change of scenery to allow them to effectively regroup and recharge. These spaces can include soft furnishings, tv’s or music, books or magazines, water coolers or coffee machines and vending machines.
Making sure the kitchen has everything it needs included in it is key to contributing to a stress free office environment. Key things to consider include the provision of sufficient crockery, cutlery and equipment. There is nothing more frustrating than spending the morning thinking about the delicious salad you brought into work for your lunch to then find there is no fork in the kitchen to eat it with!
Including everything your team will need in the kitchen will give them one less thing to worry or think about. Keeping this equipment on hand would increase kitchen functionality by making it as convenient a space as possible.
Staff would need to take some ownership of this and ensure that items are returned to the correct area, making it easier to find next time and maximising the available space in the kitchenette area. It is also a good idea to agree who is responsible for replenishing and purchasing consumables such as tea, coffee and milk. This will avoid the disappointment of making your morning coffee and finding there is no milk!
In some offices there will not be the opportunity to have a separate enclosed kitchen area; instead these will need to be incorporated into a more open plan design. When planning these there are several things to consider that will make your kitchen and dining area feel separate enough to serve its intended purpose but still sufficiently in line with the rest of your office environment. Fitting cupboards flush will allow the space to appear larger than it actually is, as will building integrated appliances into these cupboards.
Integrated appliances will also allow for a better flow and continuity between office and kitchen space. You may want to consider breaking up the area into zones during lunchtime with the use of sliding doors or screening that can be removed during other times of the working day to retain the light and airy feel of your office.
It may be worth installing some kind of extraction if you have an open plan office and kitchen so any unpleasant cooking smells will not linger into your afternoon meetings. A point often overlooked is waste and recycling; ensuring rubbish and recycling bins are enclosed will also avoid any unwanted odours.
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