The idea of the staff canteen is defunct in the modern workplace. Visions of temperamental automated beverage machines and overcooked food sitting on hotplates are now confined to the past.
Yet the concept of the communal space is still prevalent today – it has reinvented itself, rising to prominence under a new guise. Workplace cafes, where employees can engage, interact and socialise are becoming increasingly popular within commercial buildings, creating a flexible working environment
The need for having onsite food and drink facilities is no longer a nice to have for employees. These spaces are now integral to create an expansion of office and build areas where staff can engage both socially and professionally.
The rise of the café culture
Employers know that the industrial-sized jar of instant coffee and gargantuan sack of tea bags no longer meets the needs of the modern-day workforce. Research from the Allegra World Coffee Portal has found that more than 50 per cent of consumers want to drink the same beverage at work as they would get in a coffee shop.
The transition from work and social is becoming more fluid, and aspects of ‘out-of-office’ life impact that inside it. Highstreet trends have dictated the dominant rise of the coffee shop – from what we consume in there to the aesthetics of the space, we’ve become obsessed with this idea of the ‘café culture’. Freelancers and remote workers see these shops as their office, and now we’re seeing the core concepts entering our commercial spaces.
Café culture has tapped into a need for comfort in a workplace’s physical aspects. A report by Leesmans into the top aspects of an office, found that staff place importance on the ergonomic elements such as chairs and desks, just as much as they do for refreshment facilities and nearby cafes. Staff now want a place to take a break from work, a ‘third space’ away from both home and the office.
Some global brands are fully supporting the concept of the café culture in their working environments. In its new City of London headquarters, Goldman Sachs has included barista breakout spaces on each floor in its design, whereas Google has taken it a step further by offering barista courses to help them learn more about coffee.
These examples have gone to the absolute full length, but it shows how valuable an onsite café is becoming for modern-age business.
An ‘urbanisation’ of the workplace
To maximise the potential of employees, an equilibrium between working hard and being able to feel relaxed in the workplace has to be found.
Ask your team what the three most valuable things to them are in the working environment, and the responses you’ll more than likely get will centre around comfort, dependable Wi-Fi and good coffee. You might be able offer two of these as a given within your office, but sometimes even with all three, it might not cater for your employees’ needs.
This is where the urbanisation of the office has become critical. The days of sitting pinned to your seat for eight hours are gone, and the need for flexibility and functionality is greater than ever. Offices now welcome the principles of the café culture to create comfortable, configurable spaces which open the boundaries of the working floorplate.
The introduction of a café space with offices also brings variety – something evident in an urban environment. Employees want a choice, and having these facilities not only gives them a choice of what they can eat or drink, but also where they can hold meetings or undertake work. It gives the feel of a much more urbanised space, compared to one which is more corporately directed, allowing for freedom and variety.
An on-site café with the customer in mind
With our award-winning commercial space, Number One, now being fully let, the need for an on-site café is imperative. That’s why we included Butler’s in our blueprint from day one when designing our new office space in Leeds.
A hybrid café, bar and restaurant, Butler’s offer employees in Number One the perfect escape from the office environment. Those working within the building can step away from their desks to work, boosting collaboration and creativity on the task at hand.
Serving fresh food and array of beverages on a daily basis, the venue makes for the perfect place for a more informal meeting over a cup of coffee and slice of cake, and the extensive menu allows for it to become a hub of ideas and engagement to host a ‘business lunch’.
Butler’s name too is steeped in the history of the Kirkstall Forge development, paying homage to the Butler family who were involved in the running of the old Forge over six generations across three centuries.