Given that many of us spend eight hours a day in our place of work, having access to a clean and functional office kitchen is a basic right. If your sink is full of dirty dishes or your office is full of overpowering odours around 12 o’clock, it’s time to rethink your kitchen office design.
In this guide, we discuss why elevating the standard of your office kitchen can help with productivity and staff collaboration as much as making a decent cup of coffee. We also ask whether your office is ready for an open plan kitchen and review what a new kitchen office should comprise, from the must-have appliances to food prep areas.
Why A Good Office Kitchen Set-Up Is a Must?
The slogan ‘But first….coffee’ in neon LEDs became a striking design feature in YoooServ’s main office kitchen – one of our biggest commercial interior design projects. This feature touches on the importance of an office kitchen – it’s a place for daily rituals and social interaction. Fuelling staff and keeping them hydrated – whether that’s with a morning espresso, a hearty lunch or their 2-litres of water a day – is important to health and social wellbeing.
The kitchen can also be dual – even triple – purpose, serving as an alternative place to work and a break-out zone. Even if your current office kitchen is on the small side, it can be enlarged as part of a wider workplace refurbishment. Here’s how your kitchen office can take on a very chameleon role:-
The role of an office kitchen has changed radically post-Covid. Rather than just a place to make a brew or heat up last night’s leftovers, the office kitchen has become a social hotspot. Many businesses now allow staff to work remotely on a flexible basis, preferring to bring teams together in-house for relaxed face-to-face interaction. If this is true of your business, your office kitchen ideas will need to reflect this. Consider a big dining table that could accommodate an entire department for a pizza lunch or even a mini bar.
Impromptu collaboration & space for everyone
They say the best parties happen in the kitchen but did you know some of the best ideas happen there too? When designed well, an office kitchen can become a kitchen office. A kitchen that doubles as a working hub or breakout area can be achieved through a smart layout and clever specification. Elements including booths, bars with stools and dining tables will naturally attract employees when they need to collaborate and brainstorm.
Have a prep area & somewhere to sit
Although employers aren’t legally obliged to provide a working kitchen, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 stipulate staff are entitled to rest and eating facilities. As a minimum, therefore, any office kitchen design needs to include a space that is clean and allows people to eat without the risk of contaminating their food. Kitchen office ideas to consider include American diner-style booths, banquette seating or bistro-style tables.
You’ll also want a generous area for employees to prep food and this is when the kitchen ‘triangles’ – the paths between ‘hotspots’ such as prep areas, the fridge and the bin - will become crucial space planning elements. The right configuration will help reduce mess and increase useability.
Create a calm & productive space
Many of our office refurbishment solutions in London feature breakout areas where there’s a sense of calm and space for people to be productive away from the main office floor. While an office kitchen may not immediately spring to mind, there is far less foot traffic in a kitchen than an open plan area, for instance.
The right choice of colours and lighting can turn your kitchen into a fantastic escape space for the neurodiverse, and if you add in USB charging stations and power points, you’ll attract workers looking for a little corner in which to concentrate.
What Makes A Good Office Kitchen?
Planning a workplace refurbishment? Your staff will thank you for an office design with a great kitchen in mind. Here are our top 6 office kitchen considerations:
1. Space to prepare food: an unobstructed place to make lunch is a must. This could be a long run of worktops, an island or a breakfast bar
2. Good extraction: although you can’t stop someone eating kippers as a snack, you can stop odours permeating throughout the office with good extraction.
3. A hot water tap: today’s plumbed in hot water taps are silent when compared to a boiling kettle - great if your kitchen is open plan – and they can also deliver cold and sparkling filtered water too.
4. Recycling points: eco-credentials are important to both employers and employees so make recycling easy by installing pre-segregated bins for paper, plastic, tins and food waste.
5. Integrated appliances: if your kitchen is open plan to the rest of your office, integrated appliances will keep the aesthetic sleek.
6. Easy-care surfaces: easy-care surfaces – such as composite stone and stainless steel - will help everyone maintain good kitchen office hygiene. Also consider handle-free cabinets in a gloss finish for the ultimate in wipe-ability.
Does It Have To Be Open Plan?
Office kitchen design has evolved over the years and while the trend was for keeping everything food-related hidden away, fashions have moved on to embracing the kitchen in the wider workplace environment.
Kitchens are now serving as places to rest, reconnect and collaborate, therefore it sometimes makes sense to take an open plan approach to the office kitchen. The benefits of an open plan kitchen are clear – instead of a dead, hidden space, an open plan kitchen doubles-up as another meeting room and subliminally encourages staff to interact – whether it’s those ‘watercooler’ moments or a brainstorming session over breakfast.
When it comes to open plan negatives, you’ll need to assess the type of employees you have and your office culture. If you’re a traditional firm where privacy is protected, not everyone will appreciate being on show while they eat a sandwich.
Wafts of hot food will also escape more easily from an open plan kitchen, as opposed to a separate room with an extractor fan, while the sound of the dishwasher being unloaded can travel through an open-place space, distracting staff.
You can learn more about open plan office kitchens by reading our blog on the topic, or feel free to contact the MPL team to discuss your office kitchen ideas.
Why A Light Bright Space Is Essential For Your Office Kitchen
Employee wellbeing is always a design consideration of ours and natural light makes a big difference. An office kitchen with windows is the ultimate aim – and it’s possible for us to reposition your office kitchen so it incorporates windows. If this isn’t possible, a combination of ambient and task lighting can create a light, bright space ideal for food prep and working.
Hygiene and Cleanliness Is Important
An office kitchen will be a high-traffic area, especially if you make it an attractive place to hang out. And the more it’s used, the more important hygiene and cleanliness is. Ensuring there are sufficient bins, a ready supply of cleaning products, paper towels and a regular fridge audit will ensure standards are maintained.
What Appliances Are Essential For Your Office Kitchen?
A functional kitchen office design will feature a host of appliances that will make food easier to prepare, cook and store, and the space simpler to keep clean. We have found the following appliances to be the most appreciated:-
Is there anything worse than a sink full of dirty plates and coffee-stained mugs? A dishwasher is essential for keeping hygiene levels high and clutter levels low. Ensure, however, the cupboard is stocked with dishwasher tablets, rinse aid and salt.
If employees can’t access hot food within the office, and there isn’t a place to obtain hot food near to or on the premises, a microwave could be deemed a legal requirement. Regardless of this, a microwave will always be preferred over an oven.
If an employee requests a fridge to store breast milk, then under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer is required to provide one. Aside from this, a fridge is essential for storing perishables and stopping chilled goods from spoiling.
A drinks chiller
Office kitchens that are the focus of social gatherings can benefit from a drinks chiller. Consider what’s quaffed most – water, cans of soda, wine, beer or champagne – and order a glass-fronted drinks chiller to suit.
A coffee machine
Staff perks are great for making people feel valued, so offering employees quality coffee over a jar of instant granules will always win brownie points. Treat your office kitchen to a coffee machine - a counter-top pod model or an integrated bean-to-cup machine.
What Else Should You Think About When Planning Your Office Kitchen Design?
It’s easy to get carried away with swanky designs and first-class appliances but it’s the everyday essentials that will make your office kitchen run like clockwork.
Don’t forget the basics
- Maximise storage by including floor-standing and wall-hung kitchen units
- Fill cupboards with crockery, glasses and cutlery, replacing if chipped or stained
- Install plenty of sockets with USB charging points
- Consider stocking the fridge and cupboards with a weekly shop to treat staff
- Opt for the largest bin possible to prevent overflowing
- Ensure there’s always enough cleaning products to hand
- Supply tea towels and dishclothes
There are a myriad of exciting kitchen office ideas that will turn a humble selection of cabinets into an exciting place to work, rest and play. MPL can help you integrate a kitchen into an open plan space, or revamp an existing kitchen so it’s fit for modern working practices. Contact us for a consultation.