Murfey Company

The work place café is the new break room

The work place café is the new break room

The concept of the office break room has evolved from a space to grab a cup of coffee or microwave lunch to a place to socialize, relax and even work.

Café-style break rooms enhance the work environment, by simply making it a more pleasant place to be. Employees appreciate having a place to hang out that offers amenities – and in some offices, a variety of healthy food for purchase. One reason employers like the concept of a workplace café is that the space can be repurposed for employees to work.

When considering a workplace café give some thought to the following elements.

Location, location, location

Setting aside space for the workplace café is an investment of space, furnishings and time. The café should be located centrally and close to the center of activity so employees can access the space easily. The location should make sense for staff to be able to drop in for a 5-minute break, for an informal meeting or for a team member to work.

One cost effective bonus of this space is that mobile workstations can be built into the area. Much like the work stations found in an airport, there are office furnishings that are adaptable to USB connections and outlets and are conducive to working remotely.

The design principle

The design of the café is vital to its success. Comfort, functionality and lighting should be addressed during the predesign phase. Long communal tables work well and some offices have the space to accommodate lounge seating for conversations.

In order for the café to double as work space a reliable wireless network is needed. The café’s location must have good cell service, too. Electrical outlets, fast charging stations and monitors with quick connect technology are essentials.

Additionally, this space is the perfect place for company announcements and congratulatory messages. An oversized bulletin board or a white board could is an inexpensive option, but digital message boards are available.

Eat, drink and be productive

From craft coffee to green tea, designer beverages are big business. These days, traditional drip coffee makers do not make the grade in many offices. Single-serve coffee dispensers are popular, because they offer a variety of beverage options. Espresso and cappuccino machines are making their way into some break rooms. Then, there is the all-in-one, single-serve drink makers that use packets. The digital interface allows you to mix and match a variety of packets to make lattes from coffee, tea and cocoa. There are even packets to make soup.

While some offices stock the break room with snacks, a current trend is the honor-system vending. Today’s technology allows employees to pay effortlessly for what they purchase. Plus the do-it-yourself system usually has a wider choice of healthy food options such as fresh fruit, veggies with dip, granola, hard-boiled eggs and yogurt.

For large office spaces, “micro markets” are reasonable options, too. A micro market sells food and drinks from a self-service, convenience store-style display. Employees grab their purchases and pay for them at the scanning station/checkout. Generally security is not an issue, because most of these services are equipped with a visible security camera system.

Learning to work differently

Another part of the successful addition of a workplace café is for employees to learn how to use the space. Expectations for appropriate use, cleanliness and noise need to be set immediately. Short training sessions to explain the rules and how to use the equipment or new technology is a must.

Most importantly, office leaders need to use the space. This will show employees that working in the work café is acceptable, and they will not be perceived as constantly on break.

Murfey Company is a leader in construction and real estate development for commercial and residential projects. To learn more please visit

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