Coffee and cigarettes

Workplace solutions
In Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’, the main characters sit in a café, smoking and talking about all sorts of everyday topics – but what’s obvious is that such meetings give their lives some meaning. That’s rather what it’s like in today’s offices. Smoking might be banned, but there’s more than enough coffee to go round

The hybrid working model has now been adopted by most companies and only a few (notably, those in the public sector, such as education and health) continue to follow traditional working practices. But we have now reached the point where we can say that the working model has stabilised, because Polish people generally work two out of three days in the office and three days at home.

We also now know that remote working can be effective and convenient for both employees and employers. However, for those companies where people work only remotely, the creativity tends to decline, since, as it turns out, brainstorming using apps like Teams unleashes less energy and inspires fewer brilliant ideas than meetings in a conference room. It’s also the case that it’s sometimes during a casual or chance meeting in the elevator or during a coffee or smoking break that the creative sparks fly.

Relationships and company culture

Jakub Zieliński, the head of workplace strategy and change management at JLL, stresses the human need to socialise: “Offices are still valued by workers for the opportunities to collaborate, while face-to-face contact often speeds things up. Moreover, in the office employees have the chance to build relationships with their colleagues, which encourages the free flow of creative ideas as well as supporting the neuro-diversity of the team and better mutual understanding, all of which improves the decision-making process.” He also highlights another important aspect: “Working in an office satisfies the need for meeting people for those who don’t have enough human contact through remote working. Getting out of the house to go to the office is a healthy way of separating your private from your work space. And there are some people, such as parents, who see working from the office as a chance to take a break from their chaotic home lives,” he explains.

In the office employees are also able to tap into the knowledge and experience of their colleagues. Building relationships between personnel is one of the basic ways of holding on to talent. Those that don’t see each other in the real world feel little or no attachment to their company and as a result they are more likely to change jobs. Moreover, regular contact with their superiors creates better relations and makes promotion easier.

According to a recent JLL survey, 55 pct of office workers believe that the office is essential in fostering a company’s culture, while 60 pct feel that the most important part of office life is its social aspect and the opportunity to meet colleagues face-to-face. Therefore, the way the office is being used has been changing and it has become more of a collaborative space. The notion that the office is now becoming a kind of community centre is now being expressed more frequently and fervently. “Offices today are first and foremost attracting employees by providing space where professional and personal lives can come together. They promote health, creativity and balance. At a time when the work-life balance has become more important and the hybrid model of work more prevalent, employers are realising that an attractive office is not only about comfortable work areas but also about the opportunities for meeting people, while at the same time inspiring them and helping them to feel relaxed,” argues Marta Zawadzka, the leasing director of developer Yareal Polska. “For me, what is essential in an office, apart from the modern tech and the creative working environment, is that it has a good atmosphere. This cannot be overestimated. If I know that I have friendly colleagues waiting for me at work with interesting tasks and ideas for me to implement, then I’m even more happy to come into the office,” she adds. Jakub Zielinski, on the other hand, points out that those surveyed by JLL agreed that what they are looking for in an office is above all the chance to meet up with their colleagues and that the purely social side is just as important to them as the work itself. The obvious conclusion that we need to draw from this is that we need to concentrate on the social aspects of the office – in other words, to provide an atmosphere similar to that of a café.

A large black with or without sugar

All the research confirms this trend – that the younger generations who make up the largest group in the labour market feel the most comfortable in a workplace with an atmosphere similar to that of a café. They associate cafés with spaces where they can sit, work and chat, among background noise filled with music, conversations and the murmur of meetings, just like in Jarmusch’s film. Such an atmosphere is not necessarily conducive to focused work, but it certainly allows you to meet new people and build relationships. And there are often two factors that coffee shops and offices have in common: a stable and fast internet connection and good coffee – so it’s no coincidence that both of these are highly appreciated in a good workplace. Office work has always been accompanied by coffee, but this has now been taken to a higher level. So-called coffee desks and coffee corners are being created in offices, fitted with espresso machines, filter machines, aeropresses or drippers. Employees can choose from specially selected blends of beans as well as various types of milk, sugar, honey, sweeteners and syrups. One staunch believer in the important role coffee plays in the workplace is Aneta Parzuchowska, the communication and marketing director for Poland and the Baltics at ISS: “At the ISS Hub office, coffee is not just a beverage but also an important part of the workplace experience. With our experienced baristas, Tetiana and Wojtek, each employee can enjoy their favourite type of coffee – from the traditional Americano to the more exotic macchiato. The kitchens offer a variety of coffee machines with a range of flavours, so that everyone can easily find something to suit their taste. We aim to provide a friendly workplace and the smell of freshly ground coffee plays a key role in this process – it is not only a signal that a new day at work is starting, but also stimulates creativity and productivity,” she elaborates. We are rapidly moving towards a future in which absolutely all our requirements can be met without leaving home. All but one – intimacy with other people. Modern, beautiful, sustainable offices are highly desirable, but perhaps it’s not this that attracts the best employees, but comfortable chairs and a good coffee machine?