The term ‘breakout area’ or the idea of a specific space dedicated to employee relaxation has been around for a while now. However, the terms increasing commonality is not necessarily reflected in the adoption rate amongst businesses.
According to a study conducted by Office Genie towards the back end of last year, they found that out of 1,456 working people they surveyed, 74% of them felt that their place of work did not offer spaces that encourage staff to relax. This number is far higher than most would imagine and demonstrates just how far behind modern working practices and trends a lot of companies are and how breakout areas are still viewed by many as a luxury.
This slow uptake can in part be put down to the fact there isn’t currently a legal requirement to offer employees a specified breakout space. Whilst it is a requirement to provide a minimum of a flat service to eat lunch on, along with facilities to make hot food and drink if no on-site canteen is available, any more than this is at the company’s discretion.
What are Breakout Areas?
A breakout area or space is a section of the office away from the everyday hustle and bustle that allows employees to relax, recharge, hold informal meetings and work in a collaborative fashion. These spaces often contain soft comfy furnishings and feature amenities such as food and drink facilities, TVs, games consoles and even pool and table tennis tables. If the size of the space allows for it the area can be multi-functional and incorporate elements of everything just mentioned with a variety of furniture to fit.
What are the Benefits?
The biggest benefit and probably the most important to employers is the increase in productivity that a well-designed breakout space can proffer. Being glued to a desk for most of the working day isn’t healthy nor is it good for productivity. Providing a space for employees to rest their eyes and unwind will help them return to their work with refreshed motivation and sometimes with the answer to a problem that escaped them whilst they were gazing into the abyss of their computer screen.
Employee Attraction and Retention
Having a high turnover of employees can be a big problem that can be down to everything from poor management to lack of engagement. Preventing employees from becoming burned out and feeling like their needs aren’t catered for is an important part of ensuring staff remain happy and part of the company for as long as possible. Providing them with an inviting, positive space that they look forward to being in will help attract and retain employees.
It is widely believed that a relaxed mind is a more creative mind. Neuroscience research has shown that our brains are most active when we are idle increasing the frequency of creative moments in these periods. The addition of a relaxation space to the office may well produce some important ideas and allow those brainstorming meetings to become a lot more fruitful.
Work can become incredibly hectic at times. As deadlines approach the thought of taking a moment to communicate with a colleague seems unjustifiable. Breakout areas allow employees to have that time to socialise with each other and form bonds that will strengthen the team dynamic and further increase productivity and creativity when it’s time to go back to work.
Breakout Space Design Tips
Break areas are somewhat of a blank canvas. It’s an opportunity to add that extra bit of colour and flare to the office that wouldn’t really fit anywhere else.
- They don’t need to be extravagant. The most important thing is that they are welcoming and engaging to employees. It's always important to listen to employees feedback and it can be a useful design tool to quiz staff on what they would like to see in such a space.
- Soft furnishings and carpet are vital elements of a break room as they create a homely feel that encourages relaxation. Couple these with a warm colour palette and it’s off to the races.
- Providing a variety of furniture can help create a multipurpose space that accommodates relaxation and productivity. Bean bags are a popular choice, but it is also important to have tables and chairs for those looking for informal meetings, collaborative working of just a change of scenery.
- We’ve spoken before in previous blogs about how important natural light is to an office and its occupants. That’s no different here. Natural light along with greenery and artwork can help stimulate employees.
From an office design and build perspective, breakout areas are an element that are incorporated into our designs for clients the majority of the time. More and more companies are breaking the mould and choosing to create engaging, welcoming and modern offices that benefit everyone from employees to directors.
By Andrew Mairs – Marketing Executive
If you would like any further information on how Officeinsight can help design your perfect breakout area or to discuss your requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0161 233 0030 or fill out our enquiry form.