According to experts such as futurologist Nicola Millard, who predicts trends in the world of work for BT, the traditional office could soon be a thing of the past.
She and others believe that the ‘Coffice’ - a hybrid of coffee shop and office - is where many of us will be working in years to come. The trend is here right now, with a rising number of people spending at least part of the working week making use of the free, fast Wi-Fi and plentiful supply of snacks and drinks in our local coffee shops.
But are coffee shops actually the best places to work? Experts believe that for many ‘knowledge-based’ roles, all a worker needs is a phone, laptop and internet connection. For certain tasks, usually those that involve working alone, the Coffice could be the ideal solution. For organisations which promote flexible working and which utilise cloud-based solutions and mobile technology, their staff can work pretty much anywhere.
The pros and cons of the Coffice
Many people who love working in coffee shops find them free of distraction from colleagues and think they offer extra comfort (as well as ample supplies of refreshments). The Coffice is also a great space for casual, informal meetings. If your office doesn’t have suitable breakout areas or spaces for collaboration, you can meet clients and colleagues in your local coffee shop.
However, there are of course downsides. Not everyone can concentrate with lots of noise around, and there are also those who believe you can work remotely just as well at home - but without having to spend your earnings on overpriced coffee and snacks. You need to choose the right premises too, as many coffee shops have limited space to spread out with a laptop or documents. In turn, this can reduce your concentration and productivity.
Employers have mixed views about Coffice working, largely depending on the nature and ethos of the organisation. Some may promote flexible working to save on office space costs or to reduce problems with oversubscribed hot desking. Others may be more suspicious of employees working in coffee shops, with concerns over productivity and confidentiality.
Flexibility is key for future workspaces
Whether your organisation is on board with the Coffice trend or not, one thing is for certain. Flexibility is absolutely the future of the office, with employees increasingly demanding a variety of different places to work. This means that the days of the traditional, formal office could be numbered.
There are a number of design elements you can include in your workspace in order to meet these emerging preferences. For example, you could incorporate a variety of sit and stand desks, breakout spaces, areas for socialising, pods for solo work and presentation zones.
Some savvy businesses are even bringing the Coffice in-house. Larger organisations that inhabit spacious premises often have coffee shops on site or create their own, which employees can use when they need a break from desk working and want a change of environment.
It’s clear that while organisations need to take trends such as the Coffice seriously, as they reflect the needs of the modern workforce, it’s also very important to tailor workspaces to the needs of the business.