GCUC Blog

Bringing Staff Back to the Break Room

by Jakob Barry on February 27, 2013

Once upon a time break rooms were the place to go and eat lunch but in our ever changing digital age they lack appeal for employees in many fields who’d rather take a walk with one of their digital devices grabbing a snack from a local coffee shop.

As a result there’s a lack of camaraderie in a lot of companies, especially the mid size to larger ones. People are still team players but there’s less intermingling, which can really prevent a group from coming together.

To bring back some of the old spirit companies should reinvest in break room culture giving reasons for employees to once again use them as a place to meet, brainstorm, and let off some of the pressure. How much investment an administration is willing to put in depends on a lot of factors but the following are some key considerations for the perfect break room.

A room with a view
A break room’s setting is important because the wrong place could set off the opposite feel. For instance a lot of businesses designate a storage room or basement as a break zone but these are dismal places that no one wants to go to in the first place.

The perfect break room would be above ground and one with a view, even if it looks out towards a skyline of buildings. The point is to have a sense of freedom, at least for the moment, before getting back into the grind.

Keep it open
While a view is nice for the exterior the interior should be kept wide open. The room needs to be as unstuffy as possible so it’s a true change of scenery from the regular workspace. That means if it’s the employee’s space it should be respected as such and not temporarily used to dump things normally placed in a closet.

Sometimes in congested cities like Los Angeles remodelers have to be especially creative for achieving this goal because commercial space is expensive and there’s not a lot of room. Nevertheless, finding a good balance between the outdoors and the need for a calm indoor setting is necessary for employees to be able to recharge and positively affect production.

A kitchenette
A kitchenette as part of the break room is a big plus for staff because it means they have a place to quickly whip together lunch if there wasn’t enough time before leaving home in the morning. It doesn’t mean they should be preparing a gourmet meal on the job but having a fridge, countertop, and assortment of utensils can be very useful.

Also, a freezer allows them to store a few ready made dinners for that occasional late night at the office and a spring water machine with both hot and cold temperatures helps making certain dishes and drinks on the fly that much easier.

Snacks
Speaking of food, a snack corner is a great morale booster. Sometimes employees are just too busy to run around the corner to grab a quick bite to eat or don’t have spare change for one of those vending machines. Having a daily supply of snacks gives them peace of mind that they don’t have to go far for a treat.

An important suggestion: provide healthy snacks such as fruit and nature bars instead of junk food.

Tchotchkes
Yes, add some randomly place tchotchkes around the break room. These kinds of things are useful for changing the atmosphere and giving it a different kind of feel than the rest of the office.

A shelf with some books or even art supplies can be just the type of distraction an employee needs for the mind a rest. Very often a few minutes doing something else can help recharge the batteries for the remainder of the afternoon.

Cleanliness
Finally, enough studies have been done in recent years that show break rooms can be a haven for germs when they aren’t cleaned regularly. For this reason cleanliness should not be taken lightly as a grimy space will simply turn people away. Disinfect, hire a cleaning service, do whatever necessary to allay fears of the room being a breeding ground for sickness.

Jakob Barry is a green living journalist for Networx.com. Networx.com helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to flooring contractors and handymen, Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional.

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