In the age of open workspaces and collaborative work environments, the average break room also received a facelift in offices across the country. Businesses are starting to view the break area not just as a space to sit and eat lunch or take a quick reprieve from computer screens, but as a place to fully relax and recharge in the workplace. Companies like Google set the stage for a work environment that feels like home, and countless others have taken up the mission to offer more restorative spaces for employees. If you’re looking to spice up your break room, there are numerous options to make it a fun space employees will be drawn to during the day.
Is there a better way to unwind than devoting your attention to your favorite game? Instead of stuffing your break room with tables and chairs, consider adding things like an indoor golf simulator, video game console, pinball machine, or foosball table. You can even make your employees a part of the redesign process by letting them cast votes of what games they’d like to have by allowing them to submit ideas or choose from a list of options you’ve created. If your space is too small for these options, you can always set up an area with cards or board games small groups could play on their lunch hours. Providing these opportunities for recreation will not only boost morale, but also help your team to feel more connected and give them practice working together in a low-stakes setting so when they come together for business projects, they’ll already know how to play to each other’s strengths.
A vibrant, colorful room can go a long way to determining your mood, so why not make the break room a happy space. You can consider the colors in your company logo or branding as a decor option, or make it a space that feels separate from the office by going to the other end of the color spectrum. If you’re renting your business space, you may be concerned about painting walls and redecorating, but luckily adding pops of purple or gold doesn’t have to mean altering the walls. You can always leave the walls a neutral color and bring in vibrant furniture, displays, or artwork. If you want to get scientific with it, you can do extensive research about color psychology and which colors make people feel or act certain ways. For example, yellow is considered a happy color, orange is invigorating, and blue is soothing.
Even with all the exciting energy in your new space, some people may still want to sit and chat with others or simply enjoy some quiet time. This is why including comfortable furniture is a must in the modern break room. You could include things such as couches, upholstered chairs, and a throw rug in one area of the room to facilitate a space for employees to chat with each other or sit comfortably alone. The key to picking out furniture and designing this space is to make it feel different from the office area so people mentally feel like they’re breaking away from their daily tasks for a short period. So if your office space is monotone, with straight-backed office chairs and computer screens, you could aim to make the break room a lounge space with cozy furniture and colors.
Some businesses even opt to include a nap area in their break rooms or as a separate space. This could be a dimly lit room, a cot in the corner, or an extra couch with noise cancelling headphones nearby. You could even provide sleep masks or soothing music in the napping area so people feel completely relaxed and get a few minutes of rest before going back to work. This can be especially beneficial if you have teams who frequently work long hours on complex projects and may need a rest during the day.
What’s a break room without food? Not much! Even if your employees bring their own meals to work, there’s inevitably times during the day they’re looking around for a snack or a drink to keep them alert for the rest of the morning or afternoon. You can stock the break room with any number of snacks and beverages to keep these cravings satisfied and your employees happy. An easy way to solve this problem, at little cost to you, is to include a vending machine with a mix of options such as chips, granola bars, cookies, dark chocolate bars, or anything else popular in your office. If you want to provide free snacks for your employees—a great morale booster—you could include baskets of grab and go items on the counters, on a table, or have a separate communal fridge with healthier options such as fruit, yogurt, or vegetables and hummus. We also can’t forget about drinks. Coffee is an easy go to, and many coffee companies will supply offices with machines and packets of their brews for a monthly fee. You could also include cold water bottles, bottled tea, or soft drinks in the communal fridge for everyone to enjoy.
Studies show one of the best ways to keep employees is to invest in their career development. One way to do that is to help with their continuing education in your field so they can continue rising within your company. A great way to do that is by creating an office library with books that aid in professional development. Similar to the nap area, your library could either be incorporated into your current break room or added on as a separate quiet space in the office. This is another area where you can involve employees by asking what books they’d like to have access to or if they need any physical resources in the office (such as manuals or style guides) that are housed in the library. Engaging them in this process shows you care about their success and also that you can acknowledge their needs and do something to help.
Finally, the last thing to consider when setting up a fun and functional break room is the decor. Think beyond traditional artwork or vases of fake flowers, and consider making this space a reflection of the employees. Add team pictures to the wall to show the team succeeding together. This can help show new hires the culture your company represents and keep long-time employees to continue being part of a dynamic team. It also opens the process to employees to make the space their own by adding their own flares such as flyers about community events or praise for other teams in the company. Including a bulletin board is a great choice because it gives a designated space for employees to interact with each other and spread information about opportunities or contests. Keeping this part of the design for your employees to really take over is an easy way to make them feel a part of their workplace and know they can be themselves without judgment.
Creating a dynamic break room can make or break a workplace, so be sure to take all of these tips in mind when you start to work on your new space!