Business has been built on coffee and culture for hundreds of years. Take the London Stock Exchange, which began as Jonathan’s Coffee House around 1680. It became a significant meeting place in London until, in 1698, it was used by John Castaing to post the prices of stocks and commodities. The rest, as they say, is history, but the point is that conversation, communication and collaboration – the hallmarks of coffee culture – are key to a successful business. So, how do you create that in a modern world of hybrid working?
An in-house destination
At Maris we’ve taken the challenge pretty literally with our own in-house coffee shop overseen by the invaluable Pablo. He not only serves the best coffee this side of the Thames, but also remembers your order and will have it ready and waiting when team members and visitors alike return.
We aren’t just talking about any old cup of Joe, we’re talking about really great coffee, but what we’re actually fostering in the heart of our office is communication. It’s a simple concept really, and one that many of our clients have since asked us to replicate in their own spaces. The reason is that it is a foundation on which workplace culture is created.
Coffee and chaos theory
There are two reasons businesses can benefit from having their own coffee shop. The first, with our Google mindset fully in place, is that it is a way of keeping people in the office instead of heading out and away at lunchtime etc. That’s all well and good but a little mercenary for our liking. The second reason is where the true magic happens – it creates space for possibility.
Lots of people need to do lots of things throughout the day – eat, drink and so forth. Those moments are valuable opportunities to chat to the people around you – it’s not just about having a coffee and enjoying it, but the conversations you have en-route to getting that caffeine fix, while you’re waiting for it or maybe while you’re drinking it.
Those little conversations might be relationship building or they might, over time, result in opportunities. They can encourage collaboration between departments, new ideas, new introductions, problem solving and more. In the spirit of chaos theory, it’s the serendipitous encounters that you cannot legislate for on a Teams call or in a meeting, no matter how good you are.
Design details matter
Crucially, our coffee shop (Foam), is designed to feel like a nice place to spend time – you can relax enjoying the Fired Earth tiles and the friendly coffee shop front – it feels like a break from the workspace. You breathe a little deeper away from the computer and you’re more open to interactions.
Each detail has been carefully considered with how users feel in mind. For example, we have coloured coffee mugs because people found they couldn’t tell if the black ones were clean or not. And yes, coffee does have to be served in proper cups – no old novelty mugs or paper cups here!
A coffee shop is the new reception
With our team, the coffee shop is a hit. However, it’s also a win with our clients and partners. Part of our realisation is that the traditional reception function has changed – arriving at the office people need to be greeted and feel comfortable.
A trip to Pablo helps people settle in and get an instant sense of who we are at Maris. Pablo is the first person many of our guests meet and frankly few people could make a better impression – big smile, hot cup of coffee, and he’s fully equipped with names, why you’re here and the WiFi password.
Here’s the real genius of coffee culture in the office – it also makes us all happier – and not just because we’re on a caffeine high (there are other drinks options by the way). The coffee is a facilitator for those little interactions – a chat, a smile, a brief conversation. Not only is the whole experience nice, but those conversations give us all a little endorphin rush. Staff wellbeing is a huge focus for businesses – if you don’t have happy people in your team they’re not going to be at their most effective at work, and communication and culture are essential to that. We know this from experience, but science proves it too.
“As we communicate, our brains trigger a neurochemical cocktail that makes us feel either good or bad, and we translate that inner experience into words, sentences, and stories. “Feel good” conversations trigger higher levels of dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and other biochemicals that give us a sense of well-being.”
Who doesn’t need a little more of that in their lives?
Want to create a little coffee culture in your workplace?