Years ago, the office kitchen was not a common feature. For the few offices that had kitchens, they were hidden and most were tiny, messy and basic.
But now it is becoming an addition in modern workplaces with some companies now fitting big, well-stocked kitchens in various designs where workers can linger over lunch hour.
The designs that range from contemporary to antique make the kitchens look impeccably organised and inviting.
Samsung Electronics Kenya says more corporates and small and medium-sized businesses are buying fridges that cost as much as Sh150,000 for office kitchens.
“The trend is noticeable in Westlands, Upperhill, and Kileleshwa business nodes which are not served by adequate eateries and cafes that serve quality food at affordable prices,” says Charles Kimari, the head of Home Appliance Division at Samsung East Africa.
James Ochieng’, the general manager of Opal Kitchens says they have worked on about 15 office kitchens within the city.
“It is a trending feature for most companies with modern office spaces as it encourages a conducive atmosphere for interaction amongst colleagues during breaks and lunch hours,” he says.
Most companies add the kitchens into open office spaces as they were not designed with a kitchen space in mind.
James says it is time for architects to include kitchens in their design plans.
Opal has installed kitchens at Suraya Business Park and the Google Offices in Westlands.
The standard and ideal kitchen for an office should either a straight design or an L-shaped kitchen which do not take much floor space. James says a standard office kitchen should be about three meters long.
The current market rates for a fully-fitted kitchen starts from Sh200,000 upwards with the fitted appliances and woodwork.
Opal Kitchen charges Sh200,000 for installation, fitting a sink, granite countertop, hob, hood and microwave.
The appliances used by the company are sourced in-house from Silverline Appliances, a Turkey-based company, but a client can get their own kitchen appliances.
Charles says Samsung fridges and microwaves are the most common; however there are some who also include television sets and radio for entertainment.
“Samsung new Twin cooling Plus TMF fridge is our best seller for office kitchens as it is equipped with smart five conversion modes and one of which allows the consumer to turn the freezer into a fridge when required thus providing more space for refrigeration,” he says.
To ensure that unwashed dishes do not pile up in the sink, or fruits scattered on the countertops, most offices buy fridges, coffee pots, vending machines and dishwashers.
Other offices employ chefs to cook for their employees and serve buffet.
Most workers carry food from home and refrigerate once they get into the office.
“Capacity is one of the most important features when purchasing office appliances as more employees are carrying their own food and store it in the fridge to eat at a later time,” says Charles.
For some workers, the kitchen space is also a place where they can work from if the office has an informal set-up and employees can set up a work stations wherever they choose. This space should also have the right ambiance and well ventilated.
It should also have a sitting area with comfortable furniture where colleagues can have informal meetings.
“Some offices are designed with a common kitchen on each floor which is not ideal,” says James.
Office kitchens encourage employees to stay indoors during breaks and lunch hour, saving the time they take to go out and look for food.
“Busy offices with office kitchens increase productivity as employees do not go outside looking for food, for hours” he says.