The Kitchen is a Key to Workplace Happiness 
Alicia Crigler in Wellbeing in the Workplace, Workplace Design

Photo Credit: Gensler

They say that you spend one-third of your life at work, one-third of your life sleeping, and one-third of your life doing everything else, including getting ready for work and traveling to and from your job. So this begs the question, if you spend more waking hours at work then at home, wouldn’t it be nice if you liked being at work more than home?

It’s no secret that a company’s workplace affects employee retention, productivity, and profitability. I’ve always thought that the aforementioned are by-products of an employee’s happiness. So to me, a great workplace is one that promotes happiness amongst its occupants.

How can a workplace contribute to employee happiness? Sometimes it can be the simplest of things. When I first started working at Gensler’s Rockefeller Center office in NYC, the amenity that stood out to me was the offering of multiple types of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate in the kitchen/café space. And I could drink as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Coincidentally, the kitchen area with the coffee bar was also where I had some of my most valuable conversations. It was a place where mingling with CEO’s and office assistants alike was commonplace.

This got me thinking: If kitchens are one of the biggest selling features of homes, shouldn’t the kitchen of your workplace also be its greatest selling feature? A kitchen is an indispensible community hub. It is a space that people want to go to, and a place that encourages employees to gather, interact, share ideas and stories. And perhaps that area of comingling can breed a cross-pollination of ideas that plants the seed for innovation.

At Turner Construction’s Risk Management office in Montvale, N.J., one of the client’s design requirements was in fact a big kitchen. For me, the project was love at first jobsite. Here was a client who was willing to sacrifice precious square footage in order to create a gathering space for their employees. It was like music to my ears. We were able to give the client more space by locating their two main conference rooms right off the pantry and connecting all three with a series of large garage doors. The garage doors used in the design pay homage to Turner’s storied history as a construction company. The space is now able to open-up and accommodate everything from office wide meetings to Thanksgiving potlucks. Needless to say, it has become the heart of the office.

To hear more about Gensler’s design for Turner Construction’s Risk Management office, and the effects it had on their happy employees, click here.

Alicia Crigler is an Associate in Gensler's Morristown office, whose passion is designing inspiring and collaborative environments within the workplace practice area. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her work have resulted in award winning designs and client satisfaction. Contact her at
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