Breaks are an essential part of employee productivity. Chaining yourself to a desk or scarfing down your lunch in your cubicle isn’t a recipe for success – it’s a recipe for disaster.
In fact, research suggests that taking a break helps employees destress and recharge for the rest of the workday. Otherwise, overworked employees often deal with chronic stress that can lead to job burnout. While this not only negatively affects employee health and well-being, it negatively affects the bottom line, too.
This is why before you send your employees off to the broom closet for their morning coffee you might want to think twice because the break room might be the most important room your company has.
The Office Break Room
Is the break room really that important? Absolutely! Office break rooms can serve numerous functions and should be customized to meet the unique needs of employees.
In the modern workplace, it’s crucial to build an inspiring, supportive atmosphere. Hence, these spaces should give employees a place to escape to when stress is simply getting the best of them, helping them to feel better supported.
The benefits of office break areas are also widespread — the break room draws people out of their offices and cubicles, and provides a central gathering place for employees to interact with one another face to face.
Sometimes having a safe area to unwind is all it takes for an individual to recharge and get the extra boost of energy needed to increase workplace productivity, performance and job satisfaction.
On that note, jazzing up your office break room and making it a happy place for employees should be a no-brainer. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of all the fundamental components!
Healthy Snack Bar
Creating a snack bar with healthy food items can help give employees the pick-me-up they need on their breaks. Not only is offering free snacks to employees a great workplace perk, but it also can help them stay productive.
A study showed that eating healthy snacks made employees feel more creative, happier, and engaged. It goes to show that the foods with which your employees choose to fuel their bodies will, of course, have a dramatic effect on how they are able to perform at work.
Additionally, snacks are a tool for stress release and enhanced focus. Therefore, you should always stock your office break room with an array of healthy options. And by offering something a little better than regular old potato chips, you can ensure you’re providing your employees with ingredients that promote energy and wellness.
So, set out fresh fruit for an afternoon snack, prepare veggie toasts, or offer guilt-free snacks like nuts or chickpeas. To help you out, here’s our ultimate guide to healthy office snacks.
If you’re still not convinced, read more: 7 solid reasons why healthy snack bar is a major component in your office break room!
Beverages On Tap
What’s the perfect way to switch off and let your mind rest during your workday? It’s usually sitting down with a nice cup of warm tea or coffee or if it’s a hot day, with a refreshing cold drink to quench your thirst!
Therefore, your office break room should include quality drinks for your employees to show you care for them. From the water cooler to the coffee pot to various beverages on tap, you’ll ensure that your employees will always have something to wet their whistle during their downtime.
Moreover, many modern workplaces have embraced the trend of making free beer available in their break rooms. But is drinking at work really such a good idea? If you’re still up in the air about it, read: The 7 Benefits Of Having Drinks In The Office
Whatever your preference may be for your workplace, pulling on a lever to release a cool stream of a refreshing drink can keep your employees happy, healthy, and on track. Even the promise of an ice-cold brew at the close of business can be enough to push through a rough day… I know this one from experience!
If you’re looking to ramp up your beverage offerings in your office break room, read our previous article: The Trendiest Office Drinks Your Employees Will Love.
The key to a good break room is comfort. It means that much of the value of a dedicated break area within an office setting is lost if it does not at least provide some measure of comfort. So it is important to choose furniture and seating options which provide this.
Stepping away from the stiff, conventional office environment into one with a more homely feel will allow your employees to better disconnect from the pressures of the working day and make better use of such relaxation zones.
Provide adequate tables and chairs so they can leisurely eat, but also provide couches or cushions where they can lounge out in front of the TV on their lunch break and really relax. This is an area of the office where creative and inviting furniture can make a huge difference. Creating a space where your employees can put up their feet, relax, and veg out for a few minutes is essential in clearing the mind.
This comfy lounging is a great addition to a chill area in your break room. It will ensure that more people are spending time away from their desk and in a different environment.
Storage and Lockers
The office surroundings have a huge impact on stress levels and well-being of your employees. Thus, taking the time to clear surfaces, remove stuff that is visually distracting, and throw away rubbish can turn a stressful workplace serene; it can also have a great impact on reducing stress in your workplace.
You can make it possible by providing your employees with adequate storage space in your office break room. In that way, it helps ensure that they can keep their workspaces neat and organized which will help your employees focus better as mess and clutter can be distracting for anyone.
Furthermore, your employees need a place to store their stuff. Whether you want to provide each individual member of your team with their own personal storage locker, or you want to install basic cubbies, just make sure you’re giving your workers a place where they can easily and safely store their personal items.
In order for a break to be enough time to actually take the mind off of work, it’s important to provide other means of mental stimulation or entertainment for your busy employees. For example, installing a TV in your company’s break room will allow your employees to zone out and re-center their minds.
You may assume that such entertainment systems would serve as little more than a distraction and actually have a negative impact on work performance. However, their stress-relieving credentials make them a particular asset for employees when used in moderation. They allow worn-out employees to take their minds off that daunting workload for a short time.
Additionally, playing games or activities can be a great way to encourage employees to bond and connect. Make your break room more exciting and engaging for employees by adding some recreation activities.
Employees will naturally seek out activities on their breaks, so why not give them an opportunity to improve their skills? If you’d like to include a more productive option than game boards or TVs, consider lining the room with bookshelves. Fill these with different skill-based books, magazines, or newspapers that your team might find interesting.
In that way, you’ll promote learning and development at your organization. The world may be becoming increasingly digitalized, but there is still value to be found in a good old-fashioned book.
Further, well-written reading material will allow employees to escape from the stresses of their working day. Given the more mentally-active nature of reading as compared to watching visual media such as televised programming, such activities will also help to keep the mind engaged and allow an employee to be more productive after this short respite.
Be sure to include a range of topics, genres, and styles in order to cater to the differing tastes of the workforce at large. Remember that no one is too old to learn something new or escape into a fictional story.
While some like nothing more than to sit and unwind during their breaks, others prefer to take an active approach. For those employees, suitable workout equipment in your break room will be a highly-valued addition.
According to a study, physical activity has been shown to boost cognitive stimulation and mental performance, and as such those who engage in exercise during their breaks may actually experience an uptick in productivity as a result, rather than becoming less effective due to fatigue as many may expect.
Forget the traditional vision of what a break room should look like and introduce daily exercise to the workplace. Your employees and business will experience an amazing positive change.
Taste Of Outdoors
Although not widely practiced, the idea of working outdoors or among natural elements is emerging among workplace designers and a number of companies. At the same time, a growing body of research is showing what many of us intuitively know: being in the outdoors does wonders for our minds and bodies.
In the book Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, the author said that connecting with nature is essential to our well-being and our ability to be productive and high-functioning at work. Nature often has a positive impact on the mind and body, making us more alert and inspired.
Therefore, you should channel the outdoors in your office break room through Biophilic design. This will help workers feel psychologically and physically healthier while sparking creativity and inspiration, improving their moods.
In addition, allow natural lighting and fresh air in through a cracked window or two. According to a recent study, people who work in offices lacking windows experience decreased vitality, lower quality of life-related to physical problems, and increased daytime dysfunction.
All in all, through a combination of encouraging people to get as much fresh air as possible, including mother nature in the design, and making it a pleasant environment to relax, you could reduce the risk of your employees suffering burnout.
On the flip side, not everyone wants to socialize on their breaks. Some employees prefer quiet rooms. If they can’t get that distraction-free time to process their thoughts, productivity and morale will suffer.
Try adding quiet rooms to your office break room. This will help introverted employees who are interested in mindfulness and meditation can rest and recharge. These are spaces that promote peaceful atmospheres to help employees manage their stress and well-being.
The best quiet rooms feature dim lighting so that employees can close their eyes; couches or reclining chairs to rest on, or soundproof walls to reduce noise levels.
Employees will feel appreciated if they know they have a place to meditate, read, or take a cat nap. A small amount of “me time” goes a long way. Plus, employees who feel appreciated are more productive.
Employee recognition isn’t rocket science – it is an obvious thing to do. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rise. This motivates them to maintain or improve their good work. Praise and recognition are essential to an outstanding workplace.
So think of ways to get your staff on the walls. Examples include Shout-out boards, Encouragement Notes, Employee of the Month, Facility Awards, or even Team Photos. The placement of the recognition board is critical to the success of your program. If no one sees it, it doesn’t work. That’s why you should post it on the office break room where employees frequently visit.
Lastly, employee recognition has a huge communication component! Companies that often implement a formal employee recognition program to reward productivity encourage employee retention. Just remember that once you display your recognition board, keep the board updated. No one likes old, forgotten information on a bulletin board.
There you have it!
To guarantee your employees are getting what they need out of their breaks, it helps to make sure your office is supplied with all the components that make up a great break room.
The truth is, every workplace is different and every team has different interests. If you’re really keen to make your break room a place that everyone enjoys, then you need to ask your coworkers what they would like to see in it.
That being said, there are a few key items that can really take your break room to the next level. When it comes to creating a great break room that really shows your appreciation for your employees’ hard work, do your best to separate it from the workspace as much as possible. The office might be quiet and hyper-focused, so create an atmosphere that’s loose and fun.
By providing your employees with a way to turn work off their minds for a few minutes, you’ll give them the opportunity to de-stress, refresh their mental state, and come back to work ready to give it their all.
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