by Morgan Sims
A company’s break room is the social and cultural epicenter of the building. All too often these break rooms don’t offer much beyond a place to warm up last night’s leftovers and keep your sandwich cold until it’s time to eat it. With the increasing opportunities to communicate digitally, the chances to speak with coworkers face to face are dwindling.
Here are a few ways to create the ideal break room for employees and encourage real interaction.
1. Choose a Central Location That’s Large Enough for Groups.
The location of the break room should be in an area that’s central to all areas of the building. Employees shouldn’t have to trek all the way across the complex to get a bite to eat and rewind for their breaks. By making an effort to accommodate all employees this way, you’ll show that you value their time and want their breaks to be enjoyable and relaxing. Spaces that are too small for groups of employees to eat and relax together defeat the purpose of an employee break room. Give them enough space to talk among themselves. Office morale will improve, and there will be less likelihood that they’ll get off-track by talking when they should be working. A major trend in office settings is that employees tend to work through their lunch breaks and choose to eat at their desks. A single, central location encourages employees to use their breaks for what they were designated for: to relax, unwind, and rest their minds and bodies before finishing the day.
2. Stock the Shelves.
While there are certainly budgetary issues to consider when it comes to stocking employee break rooms, providing several beverage options could very well amount to be money well spent. Sure, coffee and tea are mainstays of most corporate break rooms, but other refreshments will be appreciated as well. Powdered drink mix packets, canisters of sugar and sweetener, along with cups, plates, and utensils will go a long way toward making the space more inviting to employees. If it’s relevant to your office’s culture, you could coordinate a rotating schedule for employees to bring refreshments to share with each other to add variety to the break room. This also promotes camaraderie between coworkers, giving them the opportunity to socialize about recipes and preferences.
3. Personalize the Space.
Make your employee break room stand apart from the rest by allowing them to make it their own. Consider hanging a bulletin board so employees can post information about fundraisers and personal events. This space is also a good place to communicate about upcoming office social gatherings, such as potlucks or weekend picnics. Furthermore, hang photos of these events to personalize the space even more. Create an area that reflects the culture and values of your company. You might even include promotional itemslike mugs and other dishware with your company logo on them. These promotional products work well to enhance the company’s culture.
4. Restock Regularly.
Depending on how many employees you have, you might end up blowing through your break room supplies. Coffee and other refreshments are certainly items that’ll need to be restocked on a regular basis. You can cut restocking costs by ordering snacks, drink mixes, and disposable cutlery in bulk online or over the phone. Many companies even have a regular shipment option that’ll send a new stock of break room goodies on a regular basis so you don’t have to rely on one person in the office to monitor the supply level. Ordering online or over the phone will ease the burden of having to venture out to a store on company time to replenish the break room’s supplies. It’ll also eliminate that awkward week of being out of everything that ends up happening so often. They’ll ship directly to you, which reduces waste and improves the cost-to-benefit ratio for the company’s break room supplies.
5. Furnish it With Employees in Mind.
When it comes to working in a corporate office setting, it’s often the little things that make the most impact on our day. Sometimes these little things include the way the break room is furnished. When an employer makes an effort to furnish the break room in a way that specifically accommodates employees, it sends a message loud and clear that they value their staff. So consider polling your employees to see which furniture they would prefer, which brand of coffee is ideal, and what snacks they would appreciate. While you’re thinking about furnishings, carefully consider the paint color of the break room. A stark white room is reminiscent of a sterile hospital. Warm it up with inviting tones and artwork that complements it. Some companies choose colors from their corporate logo. That’s always an option, but those colors might not always be conducive to an inviting, relaxing atmosphere. Lighting can also have a huge impact on the atmosphere in the room. Consider choosing light fixtures that can be adjusted as you reevaluate the effectiveness of the break room — and also leave room for future redesigns. While we’re on the topic of furnishing your break room, here are a few things you’ll most certainly want to include:
- Industrial-sized coffee maker with a steady supply of coffee
- Full-sized microwave
- Toaster oven
- Cleaning supplies
- Dishwasher (you’ll be glad to have this)
- Adequate Storage
- Dishes and Utensils
- Snacks (vending machine or company supplied)
- Paper towels and napkins
You’re setting up this break room as a service to your employees. Help them get the most out of it by consulting them on how to furnish it. There you have it. Five solid steps toward creating the perfect break room for your employees. Every company is different, as are every group of office employees. Keep that in mind as you set out to furnish your break room. The idea is to ultimately provide a space for employees to relax and enjoy spending time together while refueling for their day. A well-organized and furnished break room will be well worth the effort and expense, as it’ll improve office morale, which should help boost productivity as well.
Morgan Sims is a writer and graduate of the University of South Florida who loves all things tech and social media. She has been involved with two startups that had their fair share of struggles, and taught her a lot about what not to do.