For decades the café has been a place for social interaction and debate. Only recently, the coffee shops have increasingly considered temporary working locations by workers.
During our observational studies and interviews we discovered that teleworkers do not always like their traditional work environments. The offices do not seem to be particularly attractive or comfortable. Typically, teleworkers who work in the coffee shops appreciate good coffee or convenient food. In addition to this, some of the teleworkers interviewed in Café Köket, located in Alexanderinkatu, Helsinki, said that they usually prefer working in the coffee shops that provide free Wi-Fi and space to meet with colleagues and clients.We also observed the secondary premises of Café Köket, which is located in Etelä Espanadi and nearby the Helsinki South Harbour and the Municipal building. Open every day from May to September, the coffee shop is well-known among locals who like sitting on the beach chairs and taking the sun (Fig.1). We found people that usually take a coffee or have a lunch, but in other cases we also observed workers that discuss briefly with some colleagues for work matters.
Fig. 1 View of Café Köket, Etelä Esplanadi.
One day we observed an interesting initiative promoted by one of the biggest banks in Finland. After booking six tables, the bank employees put special tablecloths on top of them and a blue carpet over the outdoor floor. These decorative elements reminded the bank brand (such as colors and logo) (Fig.2). In this setting, the idea was to promote the bank services and its products out of the office. At the same time the customers were welcomed by a cup of coffee (Fig.2). Unexpectedly, the coffee shop becomes a temporary working location for bank officials, and at the same time, an unconventional location for its customers.
Fig.2 Bank employees at work in Café Köket, Etelä Esplanadi, Helsinki
Café Köket seems to represent a typical example of flexible space that might be suited to the new workspace. It is evident how the boundaries between the urban functions are increasingly breaking down and the spaces are more and more decentralized. Most likely, in the context, the coffee shops will provide the opportunity to use their space for functions that have never been planned before.