The Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management’s Critical Issues Conference last month brought together some of the leaders of the largest contract management companies and top foodservice directors and liaisons from the corporate world, but the focus wasn’t on foodservice. Not directly, at least.
Titled “Space and Hospitality,” the conference focused on space planning, design and workplace hospitality. Rick Mohr, a consultant and part of the advanced solutions team with Steelcase, a leading manufacturer of office furniture, talked about the workspace—and cafeteria—of the future. They will be designed to meet the needs of the next generation of workers, Gen Y and soon to be Gen Z, and include a heavy dose of multifunction space and plenty of room for collaboration.
Companies are recalibrating their formulas to manage shrinking space and smaller footprints, but that coincides perfectly with a workforce becoming more technology enabled, empowered and less attached to their office or cubicle. Less than a third of employees have designated spaces they work at on a daily basis at Steelcase’s revamped corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI, while the majority of employees who may or may not work in the office every day utilize team-owned spaces, collaboration zones, nomadic camps, quieter library space and a new workcafé.
“The typical cafeteria is woefully underutilized other than two to three hours a day,” Mohr says. “And we’re struggling to find collaborative space.”
The answer, at least for Steelcase, was a reimagined workcafé that includes five core areas: coffee and snack bar, collaboration settings, work amenities, a media wall and a newsstand. A full-service kitchen still provides food and there is plenty of room for common dining, but the open space welcomes individuals and groups throughout the day for snacking, socializing and actual working. It’s also an impressive space to host customers.
“Now it’s a dynamic hub throughout the entire work day used 12 hours a day,” Mohr said. “It’s the most active place to meet and eat.”
The event was held at Citi Field in Queens, itself a prime example of multifunction space and far more than just a ballpark.