As an employee, have you ever had the impression that profit is too often placed before workers’ satisfaction? Unfortunately, this is the case in many companies but luckily, they are all the bad ones that will not get far by disregarding their workforce’s needs. Successful enterprises know that a happy worker is the surest way of securing profits, so they actively combat the burn-out syndrome.
This is achieved in several ways, the most tangible of which is the formation of an office break room. Such a community space is ideal for socializing and brainstorming that over time translates into increased productivity. Furthermore, your workers will be healthier and satisfied, which will send a signal to potential candidates that your company offers the best possible working conditions.
Cheap team building
HR departments of many firms are constantly doing their best to come up with interesting locations and ideas for team building activities. This is nice on their side but a break room is actually the best possible team building activity they can come up with that will cost the least in the long run. The initial cost of furnishing the break room is the only cost there is, apart from an occasional fix here and there. By having a space they can relax, stay active, and socialize in, you are providing your workers with the change to communicate and strengthen social ties between them during office hours without the need to drive out of town and spend money on accommodation and costly activities.
The break room is going to have a lot of different elements, from the fridge to the window plant, that all complement each other. However, the most useful décor details are going to be the little things that you offer your employees free of charge. They will cost you next to nothing to stock the break room with, but your employees will be eternally grateful. This can be something as simple as a small bag of sugar or a T-shirt that they can take home. In other cases, people themselves could bring stuff to work that they wish to share with their colleagues. For instance, if you are throwing a surprise birthday party for a member of staff, his or her colleagues could design the present and you will acquire it and give it in the break room. By the time you open the break room, you will have probably already found out what it is that makes your co-workers tick, so the room will be furnished accordingly.
Staying in touch with nature
Introducing a plant in the break room does not just mean throwing in some old potted philodendron that you were looking to ditch somewhere. On the contrary, this office room can be used to usher nature inside this urban space. This is achieved foremost by introducing various plants and the overall design of the room. This means that the break room should have large windows that receive plenty of light during the day and it should have a balcony door. This way, you can even create a small garden outside that the workers will look after on their own. In fact, each employee could have a plant with their name on it that they will nourish on a daily basis. This way, they will both have fun and the workers will learn to be more consistent and responsible.
A social hub
Chatting beside the desk while other people are working or creating a crowd gathering up next to the water cooler are scenarios to be avoided inside the office. Since you cannot expect the employees to work full 8 hours, they need to have a room in which they can take their break in an orderly fashion, sort to say. This will be the place where they will not relax only individually, by putting headphones on or reading a magazine but where they can interact with others. This way, work and rest will have two separate spaces that will not intertwine, so people working outside will not be disturbed. If they wanted to hang out with their colleagues, they will get up and head to the break room that will become the new social hub of the office.
Furnishing the break room
As far as the features inside the break room are concerned, you won’t have to worry about them, as all that is necessary is a piece of paper that employees can express their wishes on. Of course, there are going to be wacky requests such as massage room but most demands will be more than viable. Like we stated earlier, there should be features that are meant for individual and common use, such as lazy bags and dart boards. You need to have things aimed both at relaxation and having fun, as well as food preparation. A kitchen featuring a fridge, a water cooler, and a coffee machine, like the ones made by BluePod Office Coffee Machines should be featured inside the break room. This way, the employees will not have to go downstairs every time they feel peckish or need a cup of strong black coffee.
Adopting a healthy diet
Apart from coffee that we all sometimes require in the morning to keep us going, employees have the possibility to use the kitchen for storing and preparing food. There is likely going to be a large refrigerator which you can use to directly influence the quality of food your employees consume while at work. Since a usual workday lasts eight hours and most often includes breakfast, you are likely to influence dietary needs of people in a significant way. This can be used to stock up the break room’s kitchen cabinets and the fridge with healthy food, both as snacks and ready-made meals.
By consuming healthy food, workers are likely to be sick less, which will boost their productivity. Furthermore, you won’t have to spend money on building or renting a canteen, as the break room can cater to the dietary needs of the entire staff. That is why a multipurpose break room is ideal for small to medium size businesses. You can organize casual (dietary) Fridays when workers could bring food from their home for everyone else at the office to taste it.
An unofficial library
The break room could help you save on gym membership and expensive office catering but it will serve another important purpose: storage of literature. Namely, your workers will need to stay up to date why the latest trends in the industry, which jeans getting new books. The shelves inside the break room can house all these monographs and magazines that the workers can persuade in their free time. This way, you won’t have to have a proper library, nor pay fees to rent space at a library.
On the other side, learning will no longer be a tiresome activity for the employees as they can take a break from the screen, lay back on the couch, and read the latest edition of their favourite magazine. This activity will put less strain on their eyesight, as they will not be forced to read off the monitor. This is especially welcoming for programmers who spend a lot of time at the computer and look forward to any break they could have.
Room for creativity
Since the employees are going to basically leave work when they step into the break room, it will serve as a breeding ground for novel ideas. Decorate the walls with stimulating posters and introduce colourful schemes inside the break room to stimulate creativity. The décor of this room needs to be full of relaxing details as numbers and figures belong outside in the office. Only when workers become fully disconnected from the tense work atmosphere and lay back in one of the comfy sofas, their brains can start working and they will come up with brilliant ideas. In other words, the break room is the ideal venue for brainstorming!
You probably took a lot of care when you were choosing the chairs and desks for the office, so the same amount of care needs to be invested in the break room. The aforementioned lazy bags might be super cool but they will make their way into the break room because they are comfortable, not colorful. In other words, all the furniture inside break room needs to have an ergonomic design to provide the best lumbar support for your staff. This means that apart from chairs, lazy bags, and armchairs, there should also be a sofa or two, where the workers can crash if they ever fell exhausted. Yes, we are saying that taking a nap at work is good in certain situations, as long as it serves the purpose of boosting energy levels. In fact, in Japan there is such a thing as a “strategic nap” that helps the workers stay focused when they work long hours.
The bonding effect
We spoke about how the break room will become the social hub in the office and it will serve as an unofficial team building centre but what is more important, all these activities will bring the workers together. Companies often depend on teamwork and if this element is lacking or dysfunctional then business will hurt. By chatting together nonchalantly and eating and drinking (non-alcoholic beverages) together, employees are going to feel more connected to one another and lasting bond will be created. Some will remains friends after work hours but in general, the break room will be the reason behind fewer breaks in communication inside the office.
The ultimate goal of introducing a break room is to create a less tense working atmosphere that will make people feel less as employees and more as a part of one big family. Once they realize that they will not toil away like slaves but that they always have a space intended for them to retire, they will feel more motivated and determined to get the job done. This is the main reason why the benefits listed here are just the tip of the iceberg of the advantages you will get by introducing an office break room.