Communal spaces, in particular kitchen and break areas, are a fundamental part of the office building. Lunch breaks are something most workers look forward to; a well-earned break from their to-do list and food to feed the brain, as a boost to continue and complete their workload after an hour out. Therefore the design, productivity and cleanliness of these casual communal spaces are important in keeping a strong, motivated workforce.

Depending on the space you have to work with, a communal break area could be as simple as a coffee station and fridge, or as high-tech and interesting as a full-blown kitchen area with tables and chairs, sofas, and entertainment, such as games tables and televisions.

It’s important to use the space as efficiently as possible, depending on what is wanted or needed. Communicating with those who will use the space is key; if workers won’t use a Ping-Pong table or a top-of-the-range oven, don’t install them.

Simple refreshment supplies, a fridge, a selection of cutlery and crockery and a few tables and chairs are often enough for the standard kitchen space. But if you’re keen to up your table-tennis skills as a fun way to spend your break, the option is there for a more active and unique space; whatever suits the workers.

The design of the area is also important. Perhaps choose colours and textures different to those in the office spaces, as a refreshing change of scenery for workers. A different environment, be it a kitchen or break area, or benches outside, is often a way to replenish the mind, bring new ideas and boost motivation. Plants and greenery are also nice touches, said to create a calm yet productive atmosphere, with clean, breathable air.

White Space mentions how in Google offices ‘the d├ęcor speaks the same language as the staff, its forward thinking, it’s fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.’

Img: Bryan Zug
Posters or information boards are also a great feature to add to break areas. Pinned up could be scenic photographs to inject colour and decoration, or there might be posters advertising events happening in the building or nearby area. These act as a great conversation-starter to encourage socialising between workers and different companies, thus creating a community. Many say communal areas are a great way for companies and ideas to collaborate and share ideas.

The more extravagant Google offices really centre their spaces on the employees, as White Space continues. Google use a ‘no more than 150 feet from food’ rule, which encourages workers to socialise, bond and be creative in kitchen and eating areas. Having kitchens not far from work spaces ensures employees are kept close at hand during their breaks, ensuring they’re never far from a work environment but still experience a break from their computer screen.

Finally, one of the most important factors when it comes to kitchen and break areas is cleanliness. There’s nothing more off-putting than a dirty work-top, a fridge smelling of stale food or piles of unwashed plates and bowls next to the sink.

Some offices have duty cleaners, whereas other spaces have a rota between the workers. Whatever the system your office operates, a tidy and clean area is best and will, as expected, make the area a nicer place to spend breaks. Plus for visitors, good cleanliness will give a good impression of the companies and employees, boosting overall reputation and perception to outsiders.

A tidy desk is a tidy mind, increasing concentration and productivity, with reduced clutter, and this applies to kitchen and break areas too. Plus, a cleaner and more hygienic space - especially where food is concerned - will reduce the risk of unwanted germs and bacteria spreading, making for a healthier workforce with fewer absences due to illness.

So, whether you go for the simplistic or extravagant approach, communal lunch areas are essential in keeping a happy and motivated workforce.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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