Office Amenities: How Much Is Too Much?

The Problem with over engineered Offices

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In Boston, coworking space Oficio is bringing back an office classic: the bar cart.

The days of Mad Men might be long gone, but according to Oficio, liquor might still play a role in calming the spirit while at work—and hopefully boosting productivity while we’re at it. According to cofounder Nima Yadollahpour, “the best ideas seem to come at the end of the day when you’re relaxing, when you pop a bottle and hang out and talk about life.” Inspired by Mad Men, it’s no surprise that Yadollahpour came to this conclusion. In the show’s setting, where high stress and high stakes meet creativity and innovation, it makes sense that all the characters need is a bit of liquor to loosen up and chance upon the next big idea.

There are cultural implications behind Oficio’s decision. Having Scotch and cocktail ingredients on hand creates a different vibe than the tap beer offered by competitor WeWork. Clients describe the setup as “sophisticated,” perhaps more in line with high society office life than with the grounded (if idealistic) startup ethos.

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Among other things, this setup is good for interacting with clients and investors. Oficio client Jason Brown says that he feels comfortable bringing investors to the office; “it’s a little more cool and quiet,” he says, “and we [can] have a drink and talk about the hotel we’re building in Singapore.”

There’s a strong association between startups and young, urban techies who love craft coffee and beer, but the appeal of coworking spaces extends far beyond that. Clients like Brown, who work at hotel chains, are in a very different demographic—and chances are high that their investors and partners are also in a different demographic. If office amenities are a way of creating a shared company culture, it’s great that various coworking spaces are trying out different amenities in order to establish different cultures.

As with anything involving company culture, the only right answer is the answer that works for you. Who works at your startup, and who are you likely to share lunch with? What do your coworkers like to do once the day’s work is done? If you can answer those questions, you can find a space that offers the best solution for you.

There’s no explicit point at which office amenities can be “too much,” unless your productivity is taking a visible nosedive. What matters is keeping yourself and your employees comfortable and motivated. It’s less about deciding whether it’s okay to have liquor around, and more about figuring out what people need to stay productive. For some, a martini after work might be the extra push they need to chance upon an idea for your product’s next big feature. If that’s what works for you, an office space like Oficio’s might just be your best bet.