Press "Enter" to skip to content

Expert advice on office design

Nestle Coffee Partners recently launched a podcast on the hybrid workplace. We find out more from David Basson, Head of Beverages at Nestle Professional

Business Info (BI): You’ve just launched a series of podcasts on office design and productivity. Why have you chosen to launch them at this time?

David Basson (DB): In the Nestlé Coffee Partners Smart Coffee Hub we talk a lot about productivity and how office design can support certain behavioural outcomes, such as individual flow and focus; optimised teamwork; team-to-team and in-team collaboration; and unplanned interaction. We also consider the role of coffee points in the workplace and how we can help businesses optimise their placement to encourage desired outcomes.

Over the last few years, the workplace has evolved dramatically, and as businesses move towards a hybrid model of ‘office-home working’ many are finding that employees now expect more from the office environment. With that in mind, in September we surveyed 1,000 UK consumers to try to understand how businesses should adapt to meet these new demands.

We launched Smart Coffee Break – The Productivity Podcast in partnership with WORKTECH Academy to discuss this research and the broader topic of workplace productivity with a number of world-leading experts. These include Despina Katsikakis, Global Lead at Total Workplace, Cushman & Wakefield; Dr Fiona Kerr, Founder & CEO, the NeuroTech Institute; Simon French, Director at Glaxo SmithKline’s Worldwide Real Estate business units; Primo Orpilla, Principal at San Francisco design firm, Studio O+A; Kristi Woolsey, Associate Director at Boston Consulting Group, New York; and Bruce Daisley, Ex-VP at Twitter.

BI:  What, for you, are some of the key insights they provide?

DB: We have designed each episode to provide actionable insights and ideas, especially now that people are starting to return to the office and are looking for opportunities to reconnect with their co-workers.

In that regard, our experts talk about how providing spaces that revive connections and drive collaboration will not only boost morale but also spark new ideas. Social interaction within the workplace becomes more significant in a hybrid working world, as it helps to build social cohesion which can boost productivity. Office attractors, such as a coffee point or water cooler, play a key role in promoting this interaction.

Our contributors also highlight how important it is to enable employees to attain a state of concentration and flow, and the impact this has on productivity, as well as how giving people more personal control in small, semi-autonomous teams within the organisation can raise productivity levels. This is particularly important in a hybrid workplace model, where empowering teams and ensuring high levels of trust are key to keeping employees motivated.

BI: Was there anything any of the experts said that you found particularly surprising or did their comments reflect your own experiences/thoughts?

DB: One recurring theme in our conversations has been the value of serendipitous encounters in enabling individuals and teams to interact, exchange ideas, connect the dots and feel part of a group. These encounters can be spontaneous, i.e. a chance meeting in the lift or office car park, or engineered, for example through the design of office space.

This very much reflects our thinking at Nestlé Coffee Partners and our belief that the location of hot beverage points can facilitate planned and unplanned interactions and encourage movement throughout an office, boosting productivity as well as giving employees a chance to refresh and regroup.

BI: Are the insights provided by your experts mainly of value to businesses that are moving office/undertaking a complete office re-design or are there smaller steps that businesses can take to improve employee productivity, effectiveness and wellbeing?

DB: There are a lot of things businesses can do to improve employee productivity and wellbeing without having to undertake a complete office redesign. Look for ways to make employees feel trusted, for example by giving them choice; understand that this is a change journey; entice employees into the office with compelling experiences; encourage breaks from technology; and inspire serendipitous connection through workplace attractors.

We discuss these in more detail in an article recently published on the Business Info website1 and in the Smart Coffee Hub Productivity Playbook2 . Download our productivity playbook before the end of March and you could win a set of five books written by the expert contributors to Smart Coffee Break – The Productivity Podcast3 .

Further information


Business Info Magazine & Site is Published by Kingswood Media 2022