Article first published on Actiu website, January 2020.
It’s now a reality that conventional offices are not the only place to work. Since the introduction of open space working, which first brought the traditional office environment into question, working environments have not stopped evolving, always for the welfare and comfort of their users. These are so much more than offices, open spaces, lounge areas, or meeting rooms, these are places are collaboration, well-being, technology, inspiration, and productivity, proving that it is of little use to change spaces without also changing the way that they are used.
Alongside conventional offices, some of the places that many people use to work include coffee shops, waiting rooms, libraries, or coworking spaces. The so-called third spaces combine the cozy atmosphere of the home (the ‘first space’) with the productivity of the office (the ‘second space’), and, although originally aimed at freelancers, they are already an essential part of the philosophy of many companies. Some of them incorporate the so-called Coffice (coffee shop + office) or WorkCafé into their facilities which, in addition to promoting collaboration and the feeling of belonging to the company, offers an alternative to the traditional coffee shops to which workers used to ‘escape’ to when they wanted a break from their working environment.
Conceived as small coworking spaces within a company and equipped with the most advanced technology and diverse types of spaces, the WorkCafés offer a centre for the exchange of ideas and collaboration. Taking the best of open space, which introduced teamwork and collaboration within the company itself, and building on coworking spaces as a fundamental turning point for freelance workers, Coffices represents a change in corporate culture.
In an increasingly digital world, where digital nomads and freelancers proliferate and coworking spaces thrive, WorkCafés materialise the need for companies to stay connected. It is no longer just about creating workspaces and relationships between employees within the organisation, but about seeking synergies and external collaborations, as is already the case in coworking spaces.
From the most creative and innovative sectors to those which have traditionally been more ‘rigid’ and conventional, many organisations are already incorporating such spaces into their facilities. Warm and welcoming environments, where employees feel at home, are now taking a step further by opening their doors to external workers, freelancers, and even clients, building a connection place for working, holding informal meetings, or organising presentations and training courses.
Stimulating and relaxing, technological and intimate, open and private, the Coffices combine different types of environments to respond to many different needs. Private rooms, open spaces, areas where you can work standing, sitting, or lounging all offer a unique experience, which far transcends the space itself. Rather than just being accumulators of tasks and people, these spaces function as meeting points, points of creativity and talent, where aspects such as furniture, technology, lighting, materials, plants, or art play a fundamental role. The fittings in these spaces are increasingly versatile, allowing for a response to the needs and moods of its users depending on the time of day or the task to be performed.
Soft-seating or Lounge Seating, usually associated with the relaxation and rest spaces within the offices themselves, acquires a key role in the Workcafés. Through carefully chosen materials, colours and textures, solutions such as Bend or Longo help to build calm and comfortable environments for working, meeting, or resting. With different models of chairs, armchairs, and stools, Noom also provides comfortable solutions for every moment of the day in these new environments, aiming to generate well-being throughout the working day.