'Coffice' is a growing work trend
Concept cafe for sharing more than coffeeMATT STEWART
As workplaces become more flexible, so too has the space where we conduct business - the latest is the "coffice" - or coffee-shop office.
Workers in Britain are reported to spend 130 million hours a week toiling from cafes, and in a recent survey half of respondents said they found the cafe environment more productive than the office.
Already two-fifths of British workers spend more than four hours a week working flexibly from cafes, with more than a quarter wanting to work from a cafe if they could.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said no similarly targeted survey had been done yet in New Zealand, but "cofficing" was conducive to doing business, and a boon for the hospitality industry.
Many cafe owners now provided free wi-fi and dedicated areas to accommodate the emerging working style.
Apart from a small minority of table hogs and cheapskates, most cofficers were considerate and did not take advantage, she said. "As long as people aren't sitting on one cup of coffee, or drinking water for three hours, most cafe owners are promoting it."
Bidois said she considered coffee shops an extension of her own office, where she could keep pace with the latest trends, food styles and atmospheric aesthetics among the association's more than 1000 member businesses.
"It creates variety, you can clear your mind and it can make you more refreshed and alert - coffee is definitely going to help with that."
Dale Rangihaeata, who owns Mojo cafe in Wellington's Bond St, said the coffee shop as de facto office had become a "real growing trend" in the past decade, particularly with recruitment agencies, which often conducted interviews in the more relaxed coffee-shop setting.
Individual freelancers and creatives made up a core chunk of the cofficer demographic, as well as corporate groups, including team leaders from Cigna Insurance who met at the cafe on Friday afternoons to debrief, free from the distractions and demands of the conventional office.
Cigna sales manager Kirstie Wilton said: "The main reason we do it is that these guys are very hands-on and on the floor, so staff always have questions and there are interruptions.
"So if we're offsite for half an hour we can get some work done and go back and be able to answer those questions."
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
Inspired by European "start-up cafes" or "un-cafes", the coffice has been taken to the next level by Mariya Kupriyenko, managing director of In Good Company - a shared space/concept cafe in Cuba St.
Users pay $3 an hour and receive bottomless coffee and tea and unlimited wi-fi, in the "style space" that doubles as an art gallery and "artistic flashpoint".
Users can also book in groups and display signs indicating they are working, in a meeting or keen to collaborate.
Kupriyenko said the concept suited creative freelancers who might be on shaky ground financially and could not afford a permanent office or shared space.
"Here you can find collaborators - it's a socially open space where people can share information and say hi. It's a place where it's totally cool to ask what do you do, because it's probably something interesting."
Project administrator Annaleigh Corlett said she and her colleagues used the space for larger meetings because their office was too small. It was also a great way to relieve the solitude of working at home or alone.
Film-maker, photographer and writer Luz Savinon is a regular and said the space served multiple needs. "I like to pile up meetings in town . . . it's central, it's aesthetically pleasing - it's like an internet cafe but better, because it's a gallery."
- The Dominion Post
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