The overarching purpose of a workplace strategy is to focus on the company's goals and vision,
and how the workplace can be put into practice to support those goals. Today, as the new working
model is gradually solidified, we often hear the voices of customers, "We are eager to create a
dynamic work experience"; "We hope to re-energize the office"; Close connection" and so on.
In the process of this practice, social spaces such as the Work Café are gradually being regarded
as indispensable service facilities. According to a 2023 survey, more than 70% of employees believe
that the lunch area is the most important workplace facility. But did the work café live up to our
expectations? What factors make some job cafes more successful than others? To answer these
questions, an office environment strategy consulting firm conducted an in-depth analysis of 12 work
cafés, while looking at employee post-occupancy feedback, and using sensor technology and on-site
observations to measure the utilization of work cafés in a New York office. detailed study.
In this study, it was found that successful work cafés excel in three key areas: attracting people,
creating an egalitarian atmosphere, and maintaining constant activity.
01 A successful work cafe that draws people to it
Say important things three times: location, location, location
Choosing the right location for your work café is crucial. As the new working model shifts the
focus of the office to socializing and connecting, it would be a wise choice to locate the work
café in a prime location of the building, such as near the reception area, with a spacious
environment filled with natural light.
Imagine employees greeting each other naturally while enjoying their morning coffee. Think
of multiple morning routines like going to the office, stocking lunch in the fridge, preparing a
latte, and more. It’s these small, everyday habits that have been observed to bring employees
closer together these mornings.
Now that your work café location has been identified, consider the surrounding team and facilities.
Which teams are so dynamic that they use the café a lot, not just at lunchtime? Which teams are
more convenience-oriented, using the space only when nearby? Can you adapt coffee stops in your
office to attract more employees to experience your work café? A deep understanding of the habits
of the employees as well as the character of the space is critical to planning and adjusting these
• An insurance company moved the work cafe from a corner to a higher floor, closer to the reception and entrance area, and
connected to the work floor by a staircase. Post-occupancy studies show that employees use the space more frequently
throughout the day, where people meet, work and communicate.
Strategic Dining Arrangements
While free food and drink may seem like the most obvious solution to attracting employees to
a work café, it can lose its charm as employees get used to the perk. Post-occupancy studies
show that even the most comprehensive food service plans lose appeal over time.
• I know this may sound bad, but I'm tired of the lunch options we offer. One day I saw our
meal and thought 'oh, salmon again? '" - Survey responses from technical department employees.
• "We used to have weekly dinners that were well attended. It was a great way to connect our
teams." - Survey feedback from finance employees.
Some successful practices, the study found, to maintain appeal include creating dedicated weekly
or monthly free food days, rotating different vendors, and offering unique food-related rituals,
such as recipe and ingredient sharing. This makes serving food fun, breaks up employee routines,
and fosters connection between people.
02 Successful working cafes create an atmosphere of
Office environments often have inherent communication styles and barriers, especially between
executives and junior employees. This can prevent employees from showing their true selves.
Work cafés offer the perfect opportunity to create a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing for
informal and free interaction between different teams, roles, and age groups. A work cafe is
different from a desk for focused work, or a conference room for formal meetings. It is a
third space, within the office, but not strictly limited to the work it self.
Create a third space
A successful work cafe gives full play to the characteristics of the third space, creating a slightly
different social norm through physical isolation from the work area and a different aesthetic
style from the brand image. This was clearly noticed after comparing the usage of the two
cafés, one more formal and the other more casual. Although the formal dining room is well-
decorated, it discourages employees from lingering there, and the more comfortable setting
has become a popular workspace among employees.
• A formal café for a financial firm
• Likes: Food offerings, large windows, seating away from the desk.
• Unwelcome: Uncomfortable seating and noise.
• Survey Feedback: "Chairs and coffee tables without armrests are uncomfortable. I eat lunch at the café, but usually return
to my desk right away."
By adjusting the design style to present a more relaxed and free side to suit the more casual
atmosphere in other areas of the office, a slightly different social norm can be conveyed to
employees, telling them that here, some things that have nothing to do with work Easy inter-
action is welcome. Workers' comfort and autonomy can be increased through a series of soft
seating areas, paired with books and magazines.
• Bright lighting, soft furnishings and books and magazines create a space where people want to linger. This lounge area is not
just a traditional cafe seating option, but also provides a place for meeting, communicating and dining.
Create a third space
In utilization research, one role was definitively found to initiate the conversation more than anyone
else: the community manager. Of course, part of their duties include making sure the coffee is
brewing smoothly and the snack tray is not running out of stock, so they spend more time in the
restaurant. Data shows that the presence of a community manager fosters interaction and connection
among employees. As a third party and intermediary, they directly affect the activity level of the work
• Between 1pm and 2pm, 16 conversations took place, 4 of which were initiated by community managers. Of these 4 conversations
initiated by the community manager, 2 extended to third person participation.
Another way to create a climate of equality is to consider designs that meet the diverse needs of
employees, meeting all parties through a diverse and inclusive environment. Not everyone is
comfortable walking into a restaurant to strike up a conversation, and introverted employees may
feel uncomfortable with the environment.
When designing social spaces, it is imperative to take into account the various personality types to
ensure their full potential is unleashed. Not everyone is extroverted enough to strike up a conversation
with strangers (even co-workers), so providing space for solitude is also necessary. That doesn't
mean adding solo seating—in fact, utilization studies show that people who dine alone at restaurants
are more likely to choose seats that aren't designed for solo. It seems that single seats are seen as
"distanced places" so people shy away from using them.
• "I love going to the work cafeteria where I can concentrate on my work without interruptions or
being asked questions at my desk." - Finance Employee Survey Feedback
• Solo diners still prefer large tables and shy away from single seating.
Consider designing loveseats that allow people to dine and work alone in comfort while providing
visual and acoustic privacy, but still allow the conversation around them to be heard and joined,
or to say hello to people passing by.
• These semi-private benches provide a place for individuals to stay away from their desks without having to eat in large groups.
03 A successful work cafe is never empty
No one wants to sit in an empty, lifeless place, and a work café is no exception. During the
morning coffee rush and lunch break, energy is plentiful, but during off-peak hours it is
necessary to develop strategies to stay energized.
Activities and Events
To really maximize the value of a work café, think of it as a "modern community green" - a free,
flexible space that can bring activities to life, host community events, and facilitate larger team
A flexible layout, movable furniture and good audio-visual equipment are essential to the success
of a high-quality event. An event manual was developed in collaboration with the client, which
included floor plans showing how the working cafe could be reconfigured to accommodate various
types of events.
As important as the physical space, effective communication and event planning are critical to
attracting engagement. A detailed event calendar, virtual showings, event descriptions, and
multiple reminders to employees are key to engaging.
• Combining the reception area and café space with ample circulation space creates an area that can be used as an all
• Visual displays were placed in the cafe to promote events around the office. Advertising this way makes it easier
to incorporate these activities into a lunch session.
The key to bringing vibrancy and energy to your work café is sizing the space according to how
your employees work. When planning the size of your café, consider the number of days your
employees will be on site, and if in doubt, choose a smaller space. Both standing and seating
space are accounted for and flexible partitions are provided to connect with adjacent meeting
spaces to accommodate all staff meetings and large events while maintaining a small footprint.
During off-peak hours, the café can serve as a good alternative meeting place. But that might
not work if you only have one row of open tables. The enclosed area, or semi-enclosed area of
the cafe, provides visual and auditory privacy and can be adapted to various types of meetings,
it is suggested that the work cafe should have screens and sockets so that a laptop or mobile
phone can be plugged in. This will make it a more convenient and productive space for meeting
and collaborating. Semi-enclosed meeting areas are increasingly incorporated into planning, and
they work better in spaces adjacent to cafés.
• Two different strategies for meeting areas in cafés: One option is an open space with large screens for quick meetings. In
some cases, more privacy and more comfortable seating may be more appropriate.
If you want your coffee shop to be a successful meeting place, it's important to understand the
ratio of your planned meeting space to your expected headcount, and make sure the coffee shop
is included in that calculation. This includes considering the type of meetings you have and how
many, as coffee shops are more suitable for more casual meetings. This requires ever more
detailed planning, otherwise you risk over-provisioning space, reducing utilization.
In the process of engaging employees in the workplace, people place higher expectations on spaces
that support socializing and networking, but research shows that this is more complicated than
simply adding lounge seating and serving good coffee.
A key step in designing a productive work café is knowing your people. Who they are, what drives
them, and how they connect will determine the best design direction.