Adapting Office Facilities To Meet 2022 Employee Needs

An office with people sat around a break table, drinking coffee

The workplace has evolved dramatically over the past few years, and as a hybrid way of working has become ubiquitous as a result of the pandemic, employees have started to expect more from the office environment.

To understand how businesses should adapt to meet these demands, Nestlé Coffee Partners spoke to employees across the UK to learn how attitudes towards the office have changed. They have been discussing the findings with world-leading experts on ‘Smart Coffee Break – The Productivity Podcast’ – gathering specialist insight from global productivity expert, Despina Katsikakis, neuroscientist, Dr Fiona Kerr and more. The resulting insight provides recommendations enabling facilities managers to adapt to this new workplace paradigm.

Employees have strong regard for the office as a driver of productivity after prolonged periods of remote working. Nearly 4 out of 10 (39%) said they felt more productive in the workplace, with 29% preferring a mix of workplace and home. In fact, only a quarter (24%) said working from home was more productive for them[1].

Community and atmosphere are important features in the office environment. Of the employees who felt more productive at work, 44% said it was having colleagues to interact with, 33% said the social aspect and collaborating with a team made them more productive, and a further 26% put it down to an inspiring atmosphere. But although a high proportion of employees value face-to-face interaction in the workplace, 23% said they were more productive there due to the peace and quiet, and 24% said fewer distractions[2]. So, it’s important not to cater purely for extroverts!

Recognising these needs, Despina Katsikakis advises, “Organisations need to adapt to how people work differently, to align the space to those new behaviours, and to focus on creating dynamic ways to reinforce those elements of serendipity, of occasion, of memorable and delightful experiences.”

So how do facilities managers transform traditional open‑plan offices
into spaces that inspire and engage while enhancing productivity?

Nestlé Coffee Partners recommends designing office space around behavioural outcomes, requiring a powerful understanding of what employees need to achieve as well as the culture in which they should achieve it. Splitting desired behaviour outcomes into individual flow and focus, teamwork and cohesion, collaboration, and unplanned interaction, facilities managers can create spaces that support each of these key outcomes.

With 7 out of 10 employees saying they have better work ideas and are more productive after a coffee[3], beverage points should be strategically placed considering the different employee needs for individual focus, teamwork, collaboration or unplanned interaction.  

David Basson, Head of Beverages at Nestlé Professional says: “To facilitate individual flow and focus, for example, facility managers can place hot beverage points at the end of each row of desks - out of reach from other teams to prevent noisy gatherings.

“But placement should also consider other behavioural outcomes, such as collaboration or unplanned connections that instil community and stimulate cross-functional conversations. In this case, the recommendation is to place coffee points within the natural flow of the office.”

Encouraging movement through the office doesn’t just give employees a chance to refresh and regroup, it boosts productivity and enhances flow too. According to Dr Fiona Kerr, “When you look out the window or go for a walk it’s a key part of flow – it allows your brain to relax, so it can pick out bits you want to focus on and put it all together.”

To find out more about what makes an effective workplace and the benefit of coffee points in driving productivity, tune the ‘Smart Coffee Break – The Productivity Podcast’ or download the Smart Coffee Hub Productivity Playbook.

[1] Nestlé Coffee Partners research. A survey of 1,000 UK consumers, conducted by 3Gem, September 2021

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid