“We visited over 500 offices, drank thousands litres of coffee and tea and ate dozens lunches at bistros, cafés, coffee shops and restaurants. We talked with catering industry experts, and we collected opinions from over 200 people working in Warsaw’s office buildings. In our surveys, we asked them about where they go most often, the time and money which they spend on meals in their working hours, and what kind of cuisine they like the most, together with factors which influence their decisions. We also wanted to know what respondents feel is missing in their workplaces. All of this gave us a very interesting picture of the food service market in Warsaw’s offices,” says Katarzyna Michnikowska, Director of Research and Consultancy Services, Colliers International.
Food service in offices through the eyes of experts
Warsaw is the biggest office market in the country, with several hundred office buildings with a total area of 5.5 million sq m. It is estimated that over half a million employees work in these buildings. For their private use, most buildings offer commercial units, located primarily on ground floors, with a total surface of 350,000 sq m in 1300 premises. Food service represents 35% of an entire building’s commercial offer. In total, in Warsaw’s office buildings over 540 different types of catering outlets operate. One fifth are cafes, while the remainder are made up of canteens, bistros, restaurants, pubs and snack bars.
“Over the last decade, we have observed an increase in the importance of complementary infrastructure in office investments. As a result of low unemployment, employers are competing for talented staff and a friendly office has become an additional motivational element. The changing working space and business environment will also lead to an expansion and diversification of the commercial parts of office buildings,” says Łukasz Żelezik, Partner, Director in Office Agency, Colliers International.
Homemade or restaurant meal
Research conducted by experts from Colliers shows that employees working in Warsaw’s offices still prefer bringing their own homemade meals to work (73.5%). At the same time, over half of employees like visiting bistros and restaurants (56.5%) and work canteens (50%), although only 16.5% of respondents do this every day, while 40% do so a few times a week.
We like eating meals in a calm atmosphere – the biggest group of respondents (68%) needs about 30 minutes for their lunch. What is interesting, women spend more time on lunch than men. We are not keen on spending too much money on food when we are at work – usually between 11 and 30 PLN (75% of respondents selected this price range). While choosing where to eat, employees from office buildings are mostly guided by an affordable price (70%), distance from the office (68.8%) and quality of the food (70%).
Mokotow most satisfied
While analysing each from the office zone, Colliers’ experts noted that the richest food service offer is available in Centrum (Warsaw’s City Centre), COB (Central Business Area) and in the Mokotow district. The highest number of cafes serving employees, tourists and city residents are in these areas. When it comes to canteens, the largest number are located within Mokotow and Centrum – the old and the new office districts.
“The most happy with the food service offer are employees working in the Mokotow district. However the biggest number of shortcomings were indicated by employees of central urban office buildings. What is interesting, women, answering the question about what is missing, very often highlight healthy, light and vegetarian cuisine, while men are more focused on Polish, Italian or Turkish food,” says Katarzyna Michnikowska.
What do Warsaw’s office employees want? Usually they point to foodtrucks with large offer of international cuisine, canteens with access to daylight, morning coffee and cakes, a better variety of soups and somewhere where they can eat ecological vegetables.
Traditional cuisine remains on top
Warsaw’s offices offer a good diversity of food, both European and international. Because of its universality, Polish cuisine dominates – constituting 60% of the entire offer. Asian and Italian dishes are also clearly popular. Customers are also open to the new culinary experiences –Balkan, Spanish, Middle East, Mexican, Japanese and Caribbean restaurants are available in offices. Office workers are encouraged to try new dishes and a healthy lifestyle by vegetarian and vegan bars and restaurants, which did not exist in the market a decade ago.
Trends for today and tomorrow
“Among new market trends, it is worth noting mixed-use investments that combine offices with retail, with a significant share of food services. These investments will set new standards for complementary infrastructure in office buildings and their food service modules will become places for meetings, play, work, study and rest. Good examples are Hala Koszyki and Koneser and soon there will be more – EC Powiśle, ArtN and Browary Warszawskie. Another interesting trend growing from the best practices in Western Europe is the location of food services on the top floors of office towers. Varso, an office tower developed by HB Reavis in the centre of Warsaw, will have a bar and restaurant located in this way,” says Marta Machus-Burek, Senior Partner, Director of Retail Agency, Colliers International.
A new trend in terms of food service is connected with coworking, where space plays a crucial role in the networking and integration process of all members of these organisations. What is more, inspiration goes beyond coworking and is connected with well-being in the workplace in general.
Another new trend in the Polish market are cafes and canteens for companies’ private use, located within a company’s office and not accessible to external customers. They serve as meeting and integration venues for employees and their guests. Thanks to lunch vouchers and different kinds of employees discounts, they are an element of social packages. At a time when companies are competing for the best specialists, it is an interesting trend that build the image of a company and identification with it.
“From conversations and analyses it is clear that employees in Warsaw’s office buildings are interested in new tastes and experiences. They have no time to cook at home, they are more health conscious and they are happy to return to the tastes of their childhood. A pinch of exoticism and emotion, the convenience of choosing and buying a meal, a note of nostalgia, fresh products from a proven source, the community of the table and intimacy as well as personalisation are the elements necessary to create a successful recipe for a food service module in an office building,” sums up Marta Machus-Burek.
Source: Colliers International