Depending on your particular set of circumstances, you may be spending a lot less time at your Newport Beach office these days — or a lot more. Having an office kitchen is pretty much a no-brainer in American corporate culture, but how does yours stack up? Does your kitchen office design have everything your employees want, or need? Is it stocked helpfully and thoughtfully, or is it just a deserted wasteland with a forlorn microwave on one counter and a bunch of useless condiment packets on another? How do you get the office kitchen right?
Here’s a quick guide to getting your office kitchen up to snuff:
- The design: If possible, the office kitchen design should be one that encourages employees to relax. The kitchen should be a place to rest and regenerate, to take a break from the workday. If it can be a fairly open, centrally located area, that would be ideal; a place that is easily accessible to all employees is, of course, highly advantageous. The space should also be conducive to employees from various departments spending time together, encouraging collaboration and fostering a better understanding of how the organization functions as a whole.
- Consider lighting: The space should feel expansive and be airy and bright. This creates an atmosphere that is refreshing and stress-reducing for employees. Natural light is best if possible, but artificial light can work too. Diffuse light works better than harsh light; you want employees to be able to read comfortably by it without it being too bright. Clever use of shading as well as thoughtful placement of lamps will help create an even and warm distribution of light throughout the space.
- Snack away: Subtle design cues can encourage employees to reach for healthy snacks rather than processed foods, candy or chocolate bars. Supplying a fridge for fresh food storage is vital; it encourages employees to bring their own food from home instead of ordering takeout or delivery. Ample counter space, cutting boards and food prep utensils for chopping up veggies for a salad or a healthy sandwich are all helpful in encouraging nutritious choices. Add in a water cooler so that employees can have fresh, filtered water instead of sugary sodas and you’re all set!
- Accommodate tech: Make sure there are plenty of places to plug in their laptops, tablets, mobile phones or any other devices they may have. If you want to encourage employees to work in this area, consider supplying monitors as well.
- Swappable seating: Think of seating in terms of something that will be forever arranged and rearranged. Tables and chairs that can be easily moved around help create impromptu meetings and brainstorming sessions.
- Cleaning up: Make sure you give your employees the supplies they need to clean up after themselves. Provide a dishwasher, ample sinks, and space for clean-up after events large and small. Don’t forget to provide plenty of trash and recycling receptacles!
The office kitchen design shows that this space can easily be an oasis for employees looking to recharge after a long morning full of meetings or calls, a meeting space for quick collabs or mentoring, the perfect spot for a quick party (birthdays, anyone?) or team announcement, or just about anything you need it to be. It can very easily devolve — who hasn’t seen an absolutely awful office kitchen? — but when all of the proper tools are in place to ensure its upkeep, and employees feel like they have an investment in the space, it’s simple enough to keep it in tip-top shape. When it’s designed in terms not only of ideal function for employees but ideal form for the organization, everyone wins.