Finding collaboration and innovation with free Wi-Fi, a cup of coffee, and a game

Today’s office is all about space – and how to best utilize space that’s often shrinking and more expensive. There’s open space and space dedicated to focused individual work, small group space and larger meeting space, shared space and co-location space.

With an emphasis on flexibility, productivity, and cost-effectiveness, it only makes sense for the office common space – also known as the break room – to undergo its own evolution.

Mobility and the incredible shrinking office

Over the past decade, the office footprint has gotten smaller as the result of new styles of working, tech advances, higher costs, and a younger, more mobile workforce.

It’s the idea of mobility, though, that has really pushed the idea of the smaller office. So long as there’s an Internet connection, employees can work from the field or from the local coffeehouse. Less time in the office means less need for individual offices and a greater need for plug-in locations for those day or hours when employees are in-house.

While the open floor plan has had its own issues – too many distractions, for instance – the layout has helped companies realize that informal gatherings of people can often result in some of the greatest and most inspiring ideas and problem-solving opportunities.

Maximizing a smaller space

The key to increasing productivity in a smaller space is that many office areas now need to perform double duty. For companies and designers, this has led to a shift in how the break room can be better utilized. By reframing it as a common space, it’s now able to offer a reprieve from work while also encouraging a fresh approach to ideas.

Several recent studies have looked into why so many mobile workers choose to work from a coffeehouse. Findings indicate that:

  • Moderate levels of ambient noise (the sound of a cappuccino machine) improve performance on creative tasks;
  • Being around other people working hard (on laptops in a coffeehouse) sparks individuals to work harder.

Creating a common space that works

Armed with this knowledge, companies and designers have created spaces that closely resemble coffeehouses or lounges. There’s stylish seating, plenty of tables for group or individual work, Wi-Fi, healthy snacks, coffee, and, perhaps a tabletop game or two.

By bringing the coffeehouse in-house, companies are experiencing a Field of Dreams moment. If you build it, they will come.

In this case, “they” is more than just employees. Clients are also tending to linger in the common space after a meeting or before heading to the airport to take advantage of the atmosphere, to interact with employees, and to even hold meetings with their own clients.

For the companies, smart common spaces are a way to maximize their real estate investment. The common space is an additional work location option for employees and it’s a social place in which company culture and, in some cases, products are highlighted. Clients not only gain better insight into the company with which they’re doing business, but they also have an opportunity to interact with the materials they’re interested in purchasing.

Size doesn’t always matter in the new office

When it comes to today’s office space, companies have had to make adjustments to meet both changing needs and the bottom line. The good news is that with smart design that focuses on double duty, productivity, flexibility, and efficiency, smaller spaces can accomplish big results.

Morris Southeast Group is one of the top commercial real estate brokers in South Florida, and we are available to help you meet the needs of your growing company, no matter if you need more space, new space, or any space. For a free consultation, contact our team today at 954-474-1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at