The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and is increasingly becoming the heart of many businesses with the growth of café culture. In small as well as larger organisations employees tend to gravitate towards the kitchen as a place for a chat with some businesses even going the extra mile and redesigning their office kitchens to create a space which provides employees with an escape, fuelled by barista-quality coffee.
In a recent survey of 500 office workers by Miele, 61 per cent of respondents said they use their office’s kitchen facilities up to several times a day. Thirty-five per cent feel the kitchen offers an opportunity to socialise, while 34 per cent like having access to free drinks such as tea and coffee. However, nine out of every ten people surveyed indicated they wanted to improve their current facilities, with 54 per cent agreeing they would even consider turning down a job if the kitchen was not up to scratch.
If you’re considering redesigning your office kitchen it’s vital you get it right, and the choice of appliances such as dishwashers can play a vital role in creating the perfect space. Here’s everything you need to know about making the right selection.
Domestic or commercial?
Many office kitchens - and especially smaller ones, are kitted out with domestic appliances which simply aren’t built to withstand multiple cycles, day in, day out. Moreover, using domestic appliance in a commercial environment can also void the warranty meaning you face the cost of replacing the whole machine.
By contrast, manufacturers' professional appliance ranges are usually tested to much more rigorous standards (for example, 15,000 cycles in the case of Miele Profiline dishwasher models, which is equivalent to a decade of use).
It’s also important to know that workplace appliances must frequently satisfy national or regional resource conservation guidelines - such as Category 3 of the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS) which governs waste, misuse, undue consumption and contamination of supplies in the United Kingdom.
Design verses function – and why there's no reason you can’t have both
When choosing the perfect appliances for your office kitchen, you don’t need to sacrifice design for functionality.
Aesthetically, buyers and even specifiers, often assume commercial machines will always be available in a cold, industrial, stainless steel finish. However, today's commercial machines are often designed to integrate with kitchen cabinets or furniture and blend into the surroundings.
Commercial machines are also very easy to use as usually based on the design of domestic models to ensure ease of use.
Who’s going to be using your kitchen facilities?
It goes without saying that it’s important you understand who is going to be using your facilities. It’s also important you consider how many people will be using any appliances as capacity (whether measured in kg or place settings) will determine how many machines you will need.
Additionally, it's important you take the needs of people with disabilities into consideration. Kitchen worktops must be at a certain height to comply with regulations in many countries. Therefore, it’s important to choose appliances that will fit under them.
What’s on your appliance wish list?
With more and more organisations opting for an open plan office, noise output is also something to take into consideration. Employees making calls don’t want to be disrupted by the drone of a machine, so if you have a call centre, you’ll want to ensure noise is kept to a minimum (decibal rating as low as 45 db are not uncommon). Also bear in mind that a difference of only three decibels results in the perception of something being twice as noisy.
Another consideration is cycle time. You don’t want to choose an appliance that has a long cycle time which can lead to dirty mugs, plates and cutlery building up. Unsurprisingly this will make the space seem untidy and less appealing to spend time in.
Do you ‘have the power’?
Before you decide on which appliances, you’d like to fit in your office kitchen, you need to check what power you have available. Most commercial dishwashers will be able to run off the standard 13 amps, however, for optimum cycle times and performance it’s worth considering having 25 amps available to get the most out of the appliances you’ve purchased.
It’s also vital to have a hot and cold water supply as commercial machines usually differ from domestic ones which use only cold water. With commercial machines, hot water fills help reduce cycle times as the water is already up to temperature.
Make sure you have the right appliances in the right situations
The appliances used in office kitchens are very different to those used in a staffed kitchen. These appliances are similar to those used within the catering industry. The appliances used in a staffed kitchen allow employees to quickly and efficiently wash large amounts of items at once. Larger dishwasher machines such as tank pass machines and smaller speed machines allow staff to wash double the amount for example.
Ultimately, employees want a space that looks great but also works as a kitchen just as well. Moreover, busy organisations doesn't want its employees hanging around waiting for food to cook or dishes to be cleaned - a situation that can be avoided with a little forethought or input from a designer or commercial white goods specialist.