Economies of Scale In The Shared Work Kitchen

As many of you surely do, I take advantage of the free coffee provided by my company in the shared kitchen.

One thing I don’t take advantage of is the powdered creamer.  I realized quite a while ago that:

  • It doesn’t taste good
  • It was probably giving me cancer (seriously, check out the ingredients list on that stuff….)

So, I started bringing in my own half and half.

I’ve noticed, over time, that others have started doing the same thing.  Luckily, we don’t have the problem that many offices have, where stuff gets stolen.  I usually write my name on the carton and I’ve never noticed it getting moved or an amount that would suggest that someone is taking what’s not their.

So, that’s good.

I’ve noticed that others appear to be doing the same thing, as there are typically at least three other containers on the shelf.

It made me wonder whether there might be an opportunity to collaborate, and of course save some money, for surely the smaller cartons that we’re all bringing in cost more than we would pay for a bigger carton.

Good old economies of scale, right?  (Can you tell that I was an econ major in undergrad?)

Quickly, though, I dismissed the idea.  It just seemed ripe for problems.

First, a closer examination of the cartons revealed a lot of different preferences.  I use regular half-and-half.  There’s a carton of non-fat (which, by the way, how is that even possible?).  One appeared to be just cream.  Another was flavored.  Finally, there was some sort of identification of a soy based product.

Clearly, that wouldn’t work.

Second, even if there was a common product, it seemed ripe for problems.  You’d have to have someone be responsible for collecting money and buying the stuff.  Rotating that just seems more hassle than it’s worth, and what do do you do if someone ‘forgets’ or goes on vacation and doesn’t bring it in?  What if someone quits or someone else catches wind and tries to get in on it?  What do you do to balance the person that drinks one cup a day with the person that measures their consumption in pots?

Even though there is most likely money to be saved by pooling together, the logistics just don’t seem worth it.

Still, it’s always fun trying to spot areas where money could be saved, and I’m sure there are others out there who might be more up for the challenge!

4 thoughts on “Economies of Scale In The Shared Work Kitchen”

  1. @Anonymous – I've found that the containers tend to last only about ten days (maybe a couple more) after they're opened. The label actually says that it should be used within seven days. After having half and half spoil on me a couple of times while using the larger containers, I decided to switch. I figured that even though the larger containers were a better deal, that was negated if I didn't get to use it all (plus when it went bad, I inevitably ruined an entire cup of coffee, causing more waste, not to mention the disgust factor when it curdled).

    The smaller (pint, I think) containers seem to work best for me.

  2. I have a home office now, but last year they discontinued the free coffee at work. That led to a lot of collaboration in the different departments. It was interesting to see that in many departments, the woman of the group was the one that took on the role of keeping everyone caffinated and happy.

    Are women more maternal, or do they just care more about what brand gets used so they want a little control over what is purchased? You decide.

  3. I notice a lot of people in my office bring half and half / milk in small glass bottles, labeled, ofcourse.

    You can buy a bigger one than you currenlty buy / transfer half to smaller glass bottle and bring it to office. Use the rest at home.

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