Seven essentials of the most successful companies’ break rooms.
That room towards the back of the building. You know. The one with the broken microwave and the wobbly table with the folding chairs? If this is the general description of your company break room, it’s time to give it a reboot.
It’s not an employee benefit required by law, but you might have seriously underestimated its value. Furnished with the right elements, a break room can stimulate employee productivity and improve your organizational culture. Here are the 7 essential elements you need to transform your break room.
1. Make it Central
Is your break room tucked away in a remote area? Time to bring it front and center, and for two important reasons:
- A long hike to the other side of the office isn’t much of a reward for taking a mental time-out. The idea of pausing for a snack to recharge just doesn’t seem like such a good idea, after all. Both of these are necessary.
- Giving your break room a central location shows you value your employees. Prove it. Relocate it to prime area, and be bold about communicating why. Super-size it and use it as a conference room, too.
Walk through your office during the lunch hours. Are employees eating lunch at their desks instead of the break room? It could be that they don’t view it as a place to go and relax. Often it’s because the location shouts out “afterthought” rather than “welcome!”
2. Furnish it with Quality Lunch Tables and Chairs
People need a place to sit and eat but a well thought out break room provides an important benefit.
Attractive and comfortable eating places also create opportunities for employees to interact. Those conversations can solve existing company problems by fostering interpersonal connections and a greater sense of teamwork.
Couches and lounge chairs in the break room are an added bonus if space allows. This furniture makes your break room inviting. It gives people another reason to stick around and socialize during their lunch breaks.
3. Infuse Some Personality
Yes, we’re moving into design-speak here but a total remodel isn’t needed.
All that’s necessary is to make your break room stand out and not resemble every other room in the office. A simple coat of paint and rearranging the furniture might do the trick.
Why does your break room need its own personality? It helps people fully disconnect from their workspace. The change in environment helps them relax and recharge. It’s a productivity-booster.
The break room is the de facto place to hang those mandated employee compensation posters. But, really, is that the best you can do? Throw up a whiteboard. You might be surprised by the brainstorming it can generate.
4. Kick Up the Kitchen Aspect
Think about your own home for a moment. What’s the one place where the family always seems to gather? Preparing and eating food is a great connector. Invite that environment of interaction into your break room. You’ll give employees a reason to gather and get into some actual face-to-face communications. This is important. The rest of their day is probably already on digital overload.
A complete kitchen may not be practical. Your break area might not even have the electrical or plumbing infrastructure to support it. What matters more is the look and feel of the area. Food-friendly is your goal. What can you do to add more of a personal aspect? How do you help this room shed its corporate feel?
5. Give it a New Name
Nobody buys used cars anymore. Today, they’re known as pre-owned vehicles. Could it be that it’s time to rebrand your break room, too?
Innovative companies are choosing names that combine purpose and results. Break rooms have become cafes, pit stops, mezzanines, and even lofts. Remember, it’s for your employees. What would they like to call it?
6. Make it a News Source
Televisions in the break room might seem like it’s going a bit too far. Maybe so if you’re watching Oprah or Ellen. Screens in the break room aren’t for entertainment purposes.
Spending a day at the office can be isolating. A steady stream of information from a television news channel is a way to help people stay connected to the world outside your office.
People still do read the newspaper especially if they find it available. Consider stocking your break room with a variety of magazines and newspapers.
7. Take Requests
They’re using it. Shouldn’t you ask them what they’d like to see in the break room? You’ll get crazy answers. Most will be expensive and impractical. A few will be genius. Bingo! Now you’ve got more employee interaction happening. What else will they solve if they keep that up?
Employees should be your partner in contributing to this important company gathering place. Let them participate.
Investment vs Cost
Healthy food and a place to relax is essential to your bottom line. Making your break room an inviting place will increase employee interaction. It’s not a crazy luxury. It’s good for business.