Some meetings are “let’s book a conference room”-type discussions. They require a level of formality or privacy that only a conference room can give.

But increasingly workers are ditching the conference room in favor of the cafeteria, lounge or café. These “let’s grab a cup of coffee” meetings have become part of the way people work, and they’re changing companies’ expectations of cafeteria design and café furniture.

Remember when SUVs and crossover vehicles transformed the auto market? They offered drivers the form and functionality that fit the way people really lived. In a similar way, today’s cafeteria is evolving into a work café that reflects the way people actually work.

This means better access to technology, more differentiated spaces and café furniture that readily doubles as conference furniture. Scroll down for a few examples.

This work café overlooking Midtown Manhattan is as ready for a morning team meeting as it is for a midday meal. Tables and chairs are from the Enea Lottus Collection. Design by SmithMaran Architecture + Interiors. Photography by Eric Laignel. See more photos from this space on Interior Design.


Abundant collaboration space and ample natural light were two must-haves in Cisco–Meraki’s new San Francisco offices. In this multi-use work café, custom green CH24 Wishbone chairs flank an elongated dining table placed in view of floor-to-ceiling windows. Design by Studio O+A. Photography by Jasper Sanidad. See more photos from this space on I Like Architecture.

It’s just as common to hold a meeting—planned or impromptu—as it is to eat lunch here in the WorkCafé at Steelcase’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When the company reconceived its corporate cafeteria in 2011, the goal was to create a space that would be used all day, accommodating both work and dining with a range of engaging settings. The inspiring, light-filled space has become the building’s centerpiece and hub. Red Bindu Chairs dot the landscape.

The Circa Collection promotes social connection in this work café setting at Adobe’s global headquarters. Design by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates. Photography by David Wakely. See more photos from this space on Office Snapshots.

In a dynamic small office, the Potrero415 Table does double duty as a break room table and meeting table.

Looking for more work café ideas? Scroll through our Office Café Thought Starters board on Pinterest.