When you want to chat with a friend or colleague, what's the easiest and least invasive way to do it? Ask them to meet for a cup of coffee.

Coffee and beverages have a unique way of bringing people together; walk into any coffee shop and you'll see all kinds of people conversing with each other. Beverages are the cornerstone of an effort to foster collaboration and innovation at Mars Drinks, the fastest-growing segment in the global Mars company.

In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving workplace, organizations can't compete without collaboration and innovation, according to Xavier Unkovic, global president at Mars Drinks. It was that principle that fueled the creation of an innovative new campus for the company that looks more like a sleek hotel than it does an office building. Just like the entire company itself, the new campus is centered around beverages and the modern water cooler--the coffee maker.

Innovation can mean a lot of things, but at Mars Drinks it comes down to people getting together to change the status quo. In essence, innovation can't happen without collaboration. That's where one of the most defining features of Mars Drinks' new campus comes in--break rooms and areas for employees to meet together over a cup of coffee. Just like people gather in a coffee shop to meet, discuss events, and make plans together, so too can they do that in an office setting. These areas are specifically designed to give employees the opportunity to join together to connect, collaborate, and innovate organically.

Not every company can build a beautiful campus, but just about every organization can create a space where people can have a cup of coffee and discuss things together. These spaces are for everyone in the office, from managers on down, and can be a great way to break down the metaphorical walls between departments, seniority, or job title. Instead of focusing on individual performance objectives, the most collaborative and innovative companies focus on finding ways to combine their talented workers in the best way possible to see what creative ideas are born.

A successful coffee shop respects everyone's tastes by offering a variety of flavors and options. It gives people a choice of beverages and provides great ambiance to enjoy those drinks. Similarly, a workplace break area should offer a variety of options to employees, including a choice of drink options and places to sit, work, and collaborate. And just like atmosphere is important at a coffee shop, it is also important in an office--employees will naturally connect more when they feel comfortable and empowered in their jobs.

However, having a creative coffee shop-esque atmosphere won't yield results without a culture of innovation. People are naturally innovative and want to find ways to do something new. Instead of squashing that natural urge like so many traditional, hierarchal companies do, the key is to create an innovative mindset that allows employees to feel comfortable and that enables them to collaborate and grow. To do that, Mars Drinks places a large emphasis on showing that it cares for each of its employees. By valuing each of its associates and creating a culture and office space where they can grow and develop, employees are more inclined to want to innovate and work together for the success of the company. Employees are excited to come to work and share their ideas because they feel valued and welcomed.

True innovation comes from more than just a cup of coffee, but it's a good place to start. By valuing employees and giving them the physical and emotional space to collaborate and innovate, each person and the company as a whole can benefit and create new ideas that will drive a company towards the future of work.

Published on: Dec 8, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.