Coffee Machine: your new strategic location

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What would you call the most important place in an office? The most important spaces in an office are not the boardroom, nor your own desk. In fact, most important places are those where a company’s executives aren’t regularly hanging out. But you’re busy, I know that. So I’ll just tell you.

The most important places are the places where ideas are born. Not where they are executed, polished, reviewed and approved. Where they are born. Ideas that potentially will take your company to another level, or at least move you forward. And where do ideas come from, you ask? Coffee machines.

The space around coffee machines is long known to be a creativity hub. “Let’s go get a coffee” you’d say to a colleague to go bounce off some thoughts casually. Or bump into someone unexpected and catch up on what they’re doing. However you look at it – the coffee machine is a place outside of routine. And breaking the routine is potential inspiration.

How to make it a creativity hub?

  • Make sure there’s enough space for people to hang out without creating a corridor traffic jam or occupying the coffee machine for half an hour. Create space; put a couple of chairs and a small coffee table. Do not encourage a ‘get your coffee fast and go back to your desk’ behaviour. Let people talk!
  • Encourage people to take coffee breaks by offering good coffee (or a good range of tea). Connecting people from different projects and departments can be a hard task with great benefits, so don’t be cheap on this one.
  • What’s on the wall next to a coffee machine? While waiting for coffee to pour, I often read what’s around (if there is no one to talk to). Place some ideas boosters. But not company propaganda. You don’t leave your desk to go to a coffee machine in order to find what your mailbox is already full of. Make it a break – some industry news, some office projects, some crazy ideas from management magazines? Or maybe even leave it up to employees and ask them to share stuff on an empty cork board.

And when next time ‘Creativity’ or ‘Networking’ are on your board meeting’s agenda as issues preventing you going forward, – maybe there are easier solutions to this problem you can think of.

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