What happens when workers are highly satisfied with their workplace? They become more highly engaged, according to the 2016 Steelcase Global Report on employee engagement.
That finding isn’t too surprising, but this stat might be: Only 13 percent of global workers are highly engaged and highly satisfied with their workplace. Conversely, 11 percent of global workers report being highly dissatisfied and disengaged.
Because employee engagement has a direct impact on productivity, employee loyalty and retention, and corporate profits, it’s a key issue for companies to tackle.
While there are many ways to boost employee engagement, fostering social connection and friendship is an essential piece of the puzzle. Long-term research by Gallup shows that “having a best friend at work relates to better business outcomes, including … emotional connection with and loyalty to the organization.”
In addition, Gallup reports, “when employees have a deep sense of affiliation with their team members, they take positive actions that benefit the business—actions they might not have taken if they did not have strong relationships” at work.
So what can employers do to foster strong social connections?
A central strategy is to provide environments where conversations can spark and friendships can flourish. A case in point: the work café.
Today’s workplace café functions more like a coffee shop than a traditional breakroom or cafeteria. It serves as a “third place” in the office, a comfortable workspace with settings for team collaboration and one-on-one dialogue—whether scheduled or spontaneous.
Through its floor plan and furnishings, the office café sets the stage for interactions that build trust, encourage a sense of belonging, promote problem-solving and invite fun.
Scroll down to see four people-centered work café designs.
1. Communal space overlooking Bryant Park
The business consultancy Bain & Company has 53 global offices, including this one in New York City. Its common space overlooking Manhattan’s Bryant Park includes a kitchen, a ping-pong table and a variety of café settings for meals, meetings and focused work. This scene features booth-style seating from the Lagunitas Lounge System. Photography by Sarah Jacobs. See more photos from this space on ThisIsInsider.com.
2. Flex space in Costa Rica
This common space at tech company Akamai’s headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, is a modern take on the conventional break room. Designed as a flexible area that fosters teamwork and conversation, it features the Enea Lottus Sled Stool and the bar-height Enea Table. Design by Arquitecto Daniel Lacayo & Asociados. Photography by Douglas Castillo Ordoñez. See more photos from this space on Office Snapshots.
3. Social zone on Park Avenue
The new work café at OMERS Sponsors Corporation in New York City is a social zone designed to promote friendship, interaction and collaboration. The space features the bar-height Last Minute Stool and the Enea Lottus Table in two heights. Design by Specter Group. Photography by Ben Gancsos. See more photos from this space on Office Snapshots.
4. Gathering place in San Diego
When furniture dealer BKM designed its new San Diego headquarters and showroom, the design team decided to allocate 60 percent of the space for social and communal uses. The combination lounge and café pictured here uses the Lox Chair, Enea Lottus Table and Lagunitas Lounge System to provide opportunities for both work and play. Design by Hollander Design Group. Photography by Jasper Sanidad. See more photos from this space on Office Snapshots.
Looking for more ideas? See our Office Café Designs board on Pinterest.