Office design is a multifaceted discipline; an exercise not only in aesthetic appeal but also in workplace and staff psychology, wellbeing and productivity, among other important factors. One area of the office in which the aforementioned elements come to the forefront is in the design and amenities of the company’s break area(s), which are often sadly overlooked yet can actually have a remarkable effect upon the productivity, wellbeing, and general effectiveness of your workforce.

Without a suitable place in which to unwind from the daily stresses of working life, your staff will soon begin to show signs of strain which will permeate throughout the company at large. We’ve spoken before about some of the factors which contribute to the creation of an effective break area as part of our recurring ‘Communal Spaces’ feature, but in all honesty we feel as though we have hardly scratched the surface, so below we have included a few additional yet key considerations to bear in mind when designing such a space for your own office.

Provide healthy eating options

The foods with which we choose to fuel our bodies will of course have a dramatic effect on how we are able to perform, and following an unhealthy diet high in sugars, salts and saturated fats is only going to cause problems in the long run not only in terms of your effectiveness and productivity at work, but also your general health and wellbeing. As such, companies and building managers should place more emphasis on the provision of healthy eating options, lest they end up with a sickly, unproductive and downright unhealthy workforce.

Having said that it is also important to remember that you are dealing with adults not children and you cannot overly restrict their options should they choose to partake in the occasional treat, and whatever you do, don’t neglect the coffee. Caffeine is a staple of the working day and, as asserted by Jonathan Proffitt of Kronos Incorporated in a recent discussion with Business News Daily, “has been a bonding hub since the dawn of the office building.”

Install televisions or other entertainment systems

It may seem contradictory, but by installing a TV in your company’s break room you could actually boost the productivity of your workforce. While you may assume that such entertainment systems would serve as little more than a distraction and actually have a negative impact on work performance on the whole, their stress-relieving credentials make them a particular asset for employees when used in moderation, allowing worn-out employees to take their mind off that daunting workload for a short time.

Gathering around the TV is also an excellent way for colleagues to bond, particularly during major televised events such as the World Cup or Olympic Games.

Go back to basics by adding a library

The world may be becoming increasingly technological and digitalised, but there is still value to be found in a good old-fashioned book. A well-written book will allow employees to escape from the stresses of their working day in much the same way as a television would, but 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. This will also give the eyes a break from staring at bright screens, which will carry health benefits of its own.

Be sure to include a range of topics, genres and styles in order to cater to the differing tastes of the workforce at large.

Provide comfortable furniture/seating options

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, and so it is important to choose furniture and seating options which provides this. Stepping away from the stiff, almost-clinical aesthetic of many conventional office environments into one with a more homely feel also allows employees to better disconnect from the pressures of the working day and make better use of such relaxation zones.

Embrace Mother Nature

All the advanced technologies and intuitive working practices in the world cannot compete with the inherent benefits provided by the inclusion of natural elements. Incorporating plant-life into an office environment will not only add a certain aesthetic appeal, but will also improve upon the general health and wellbeing of your workforce, as detailed in our previous article on the topic. Natural light is also a feature which should not be overlooked, as countless studies have displayed its superiority over artificial alternatives, particularly in terms of health and productivity.

Provide workout/exercise equipment

While some like nothing more than to sit and unwind during their breaks, others prefer to take a more active approach, and for those who desire a workout during these times the provision of suitable facilities on-site will be a highly-valued addition. 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.

Create a positive and inclusive atmosphere

There is no golden rule for success when it comes to creating a positive and inclusive atmosphere, as this aspect relies very much on the intangible ‘feel’ of the space and is often affected more by those who use the space than by the additions and amenities included within. That being said there are some steps you can take in an effort to promote a welcoming environment, such as making sure to incorporate the views and preferences of all into the design and layout of dedicated relaxation areas, ensuring all members of staff can glean some benefit from them. Beyond that the best advice is to lead by example, making sure that senior staff members are also making use of such spaces and interacting with the larger workforce whilst doing so.


Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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