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The Strategic Placement of Kitchens in the Workplace

By Star Hughes-Gorup

There are several schools of thoughts on the placement of office kitchens and break rooms. At one end of the spectrum, businesses love the idea of a kitchen that is an inviting first impression of the space. On the other end, businesses feel as though kitchens are to be kept hidden in the back of offices. While there is no right or wrong answer to where an office kitchen should be located, there are important and strategic concepts that every business should consider to enhance the layout and culture of their workspaces!

In planning and design sessions with clients, our professionals pay close attention to the kitchen and its intentional and practical importance for the company’s team members and visitors. Depending on the importance of the kitchen to the company, the primary consideration is the placement of the feature in the office environment: front and center, back of house, or a happy medium?

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Front and Center

For a business that wants a kitchen with a comforting, engaged feel, we recommend exploring a front and center placement and design. Ideally, the kitchen area can tie in with the visitor reception area, providing guests with an instant feel of charming hospitality and an inside look into a company’s unique culture. Businesses can jazz up their office kitchen by incorporating solid surface countertops such as marble or granite and tile backsplashes! By utilizing floating shelves accented with fun trinkets and accessories, they can also provide a home away from home feel for their teams. At each of our Hughes Marino offices, the kitchen is the hub of activity, and the gathering point for our team members to connect, collaborate and socialize. We love that all of our visitors can enjoy our beautiful kitchens too!

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One important challenge to note—the area must be clean at all times…there are no exceptions! As long as the kitchen is sparkling clean, a front and center kitchen will be a dazzling first impression to guests!

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Back of House

Some companies place a lower prioritization on a kitchen. A fluid and dynamic space might not fit with the culture, or the team might prefer to eat outside if the office is located in an urban setting. Back of house kitchens are often smaller, less inspiring and not as encouraging for team members to take a seat to eat lunch. The area is really more of a place to keep food in the refrigerator and wash off dirty dishes. The benefit, however, is that the kitchen is hidden away, so it is not imperative to keep it immaculately clean at all times. It can also keep smells of food hidden away from the rest of the office. One downside? The environment does not always offer a place for the team to meet and bond. If the space is not inspiring, the team is less likely to spend time enjoying it and gathering there.

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A Happy Medium: The Best of Both Worlds

A company can still have a nice kitchen that is not front and center in the office space. There are easy ways to make a kitchen feel like a gathering place, lounge and eatery where team members are excited to connect and chat over a meal. In addition to sleek countertops and a decorative backsplash, businesses can integrate mood lighting, such as fun pendant light fixtures to add a nice unique touch to distinguish the kitchen area. Each of our offices at Hughes Marino incorporates chandeliers or other vibrant fixtures, which really add personality to our gourmet kitchens. Creative lighting delivers a vibrant energy, creating a fun atmosphere in the kitchen for all to enjoy!

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Other Workplace Kitchen Enhancement Ideas

We recommend adding as much fun as possible to the space for teams to enjoy! Other options to consider incorporating are bar stools, high-top tables, TV’s and even game tables. A game room is adjacent to every one of our kitchens, complete with shuffleboard, a billiards table and arcade games, which we have found have been the perfect touch of fun for team members to use throughout the day. If square footage is tight, businesses can try puzzles or portable table games that can be put away for an important meeting, but can still add entertainment to the space to enhance company culture.

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Another highly appreciated amenity for team members is a kitchen stocked with snacks, drinks and even kitchen appliances! It truly is another great way to take care of teams and show gratitude for hard work well done! We keep our kitchens supplied with fresh fruit, gourmet coffee, and a variety of healthy and sweet snacks for our team to enjoy throughout the day and take a break to recharge.

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No matter where a company’s kitchen may be located, it should reflect the culture of your company, while providing a nice space for team members to gather, bond and relax! A great kitchen can motivate, inspire and set the tone for the office, and we are happy to help businesses achieve their ideal kitchen that enhances their company culture!

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Star Hughes-Gorup is a senior vice president and director at Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate firm with offices across the nation. Star is a key member of Hughes Marino’s brokerage team, where she specializes in tenant representation and building purchases. Star also makes frequent media appearances to speak on business issues from a millennial perspective, and regularly writes for Hughes Marino’s “Spaces We Love” blog. Contact Star at 1-844-662-6635, or star@hughesmarino.com.

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