Why the office lunchroom is more important than the boardroom
Ever notice how the kitchen is the social hub of a home?
The kitchen is where the family, and often visitors, tend to congregate, and where all the interaction happens. Gone are the days where kitchens were tucked away and purely functional. Now they’re front and centre. The heart of the home.
And today, office kitchens and lunchrooms are heading the same way.
Because there’s a well-understood connection between casual interactions and innovation.
So if the kitchen at home is where all the interaction happens, why not try to make the same thing happen at work?
According to an article in The Harvard Business Review, performance data collected from thousands of workspaces suggests that face-to-face interactions are the most important activity in any office space. These chance encounters and unplanned interactions are actually improving performance.
So perhaps the humble lunchroom, perfect for casual unplanned interactions, could be more important than the boardroom?
In today’s article, we look at the top 5 reasons why lunchrooms are important and 5 must-have features for your lunchroom.
5 reasons why lunchrooms are important
1. Encourage collaboration
The lunchroom is not only a place to eat your sandwich or heat up last night’s leftovers. It’s a place for chance encounters and on the fly discussions while you eat. It’s about making personal connections and starting conversations that might lead to creative ideas. And that, as we’ve already discussed, is gold.
2. Show that you value employees
You don’t need to have the most advanced lunchroom in the world to keep your employees happy and show them they’re valued. However, if you make the effort to create a place where your workers can truly relax and refresh themselves, they’ll reward you with better work and greater satisfaction.
3. Boost morale
Like the kitchen at home, the lunchroom can become the heart of the space. It’s where you celebrate staff milestones and shout morning tea for a job well done. It should be a place with a good vibe.
4. Extend the work day
Unfriendly kitchens (or non-existent ones) have the effect of pushing employees out the front door at mealtime. By providing an amenity that people enjoy using they’ll use it, and their colleagues will too. And what happens then? Casual work talk and idea sharing through lunch and break times.
5. Provide more alternate space options
If you set the lunchroom up well it will be used for more than just lunch. It can become a casual area to collaborate and brainstorm; to hold informal meetings; a space where people can go and work on their own, or just to get away from their desk for a while. This ‘breakout’ is important for productivity and wellbeing.
5 must-have features for your lunchroom
1. A unique flavour
Don’t just make your lunchroom an extension of the rest of your office. Give it a different flavour. This distinction is important because it allows people to disconnect from their workspace and decompress. The change in environment provides a chance to relax and embrace the change in scenery. Then when they return to work, they’ll feel refreshed and hopefully more productive.
2. Comfortable and inviting
The lunchroom needs to be a pleasant space to be in. You want to create a space that brings people together. That makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. Natural lighting is important. And if you can provide a link to the outdoors even better.
3. Good amenities
Make sure the kitchen is functional and easy to use. Provide the basic equipment needed to store and prepare a typical work lunch or microwaveable snack in a defined area of the lunchroom. Make it easy for more than one person to prepare their lunch without having to wait for access. Make sure the kitchen is stocked with enough crockery and cutlery and most importantly a dishwasher. Organise rubbish and recycling so that it’s easy to use. And going a step further, you could supply a toastie maker or blender for smoothies.
4. A mix of furniture options
Include furniture that is different to the furniture around the office. You want to provide a break both mentally and physically. Standing tables or leaners work well paired with stools. NZ made Luca is a popular option paired with Coco stools. Or the Oslo with its beautiful Ash timber frame which has a matching low coffee table. Providing some soft seating is a nice option. As well as cafe style tables and chairs such as Maya (which is suitable for indoor and outdoor use).
5. A good coffee machine
What’s the best way to draw people together? Good coffee. Enough said.
Here at Crestline HQ, our lunchroom is the heart of our office. The team enjoy hanging out there and we firmly believe it delivers on the benefits we’ve discussed here. Want to see it in action? Pop by for a coffee any time.