Brewing Up A Storm: An Emerging Café Culture
Posted by Gary Duguid on 26/10/2018
In the UK, 95 million cups of coffee are drunk everyday...
...and we think this significant rise in popularity (and the surrounding café culture) reflects the deeper need for flexibility in the workplace.
You’ve just got into the office. You’ve set up your laptop or computer. What’s the next priority? Coffee (probably).
We are living and working in a coffee-loving nation. It’s fair to say that we drink coffee in most spheres of life; according to The Independent, “65 per cent of coffee is drunk at home, 25 per cent at work or while studying, and the rest is consumed in shops, bars and restaurants”.
Aside from a love of the liquid stuff itself, a café culture has been steadily emerging in society. Ever since the recession hit a decade ago, cafés have been capitalising on the closure of retail shops – and successfully creating new spaces for people to socialise and work, all over a cuppa. This trend was cemented by the digital age, which allowed remote working thanks to the availability of laptops, mobile phones and free wifi.
A culture based on flexibility
The emergence of a café culture (and therefore the ease with which people can work remotely) has gone hand in hand with growing demands for flexibility in the workplace. Thanks to well-designed workplaces, staff members are freer than ever before to choose where and how they want to work, whether this be independently or with others.
Coffee itself also plays more of a role in collaboration than you may think. Popular wisdom used to have it that smokers were the best-informed people in any organisation – the reason being they would meet by chance, away from their desks and develop trusted relationships through informal interaction without the limitations of hierarchy, department or co-location. Yet we think this has now morphed into coffee drinkers; those that make a coffee every couple of hours are bound to bump into others and chit-chat about work or more personal news. In turn, these spontaneous beverage-based encounters are therefore helping to form more open and sociable workplaces - key factors in successful collaboration and teamwork.
Offering such benefits, ranging from greater flexibility to improved openness, it’s perhaps no surprise that ‘coffices’ have been popping up around the world. Defined as “a coffee shop one makes into an office where non-coffee-shop work is performed”, the coffice is heavily based on collaboration. As Andrew Clough of London’s first coffice, The Brew, discusses: “Coffices mark the emergence of a new era for the co-working sphere. We’re incredibly excited to launch this innovative workspace and help Londoners to enjoy collective entrepreneurial spirit, creative vibes and a tight-knit community”.
What about the risks of a coffee-loving workforce?
Amidst the growing café culture and our love of caffeine, office-based workers are increasingly popping out to grab a coffee (as long as their surroundings cater for this). When this trend is combined with the popularity of remote working from cafés, there could be a risk to productivity – how can employers manage how often people go out for coffee breaks? What if remote workers come into the office less and less, and therefore start to become isolated from their teams?
One solution that can help to reduce absenteeism is offering a workplace culture akin to that of a coffee shop. By encapsulating this flexible atmosphere with both collaborative and more focused areas (and ample coffee making facilities of course), individuals are far more likely to choose to base themselves in the thriving office environment.
Runway East's cafe hub was a key design feature for their new Bristol-based co-working space.
The hub of the workplace
From our own experience, we know how important a café-like culture can be in a workplace. We therefore always ensure that a tea point or breakout area acts as a hub, whether for socialising, brainstorming or simply making a cup of something. Take Runway East Bristol for example, where the ground floor is a café-based hub for co-working tenants to come together, share ideas and thrive.
We think the flexible workplace of today is here to stay, but it will be interesting to see whether our love for coffee dwindles. Who knows, maybe it’s now ingrained into us and our working lives…