Engaging in any activity without a break, whether enjoyable or laborious, makes it difficult for the mind and body to relax and regain balance. This is particularly true in the workplace, where stress can be constant and relief options minimal. Establishing a dedicated area where employees enjoy some downtime during the workday is a strategic move that can reap many positive benefits for the company and workers alike.
The basic principle of a staff breakroom — which, according to Gaebler Ventures is “often the most undervalued, under appreciated room in the workplace” — is for employees to temporarily disengage from the steady stream of daily tasks. It only takes a brief respite in this work-free zone for people to relax and recharge, a combination that brings with it a greater level of productivity, job satisfaction and general health.
The chance to step away from work-related issues lends itself to a more social atmosphere. People who gather in the office breakroom have an opportunity to catch up on coworkers’ family news or shoot the breeze about current events. Talking shop is also an option that can be a challenge to avoid, yet as Gaebler Ventures notes, its presence still adds to the relationship-building aspect of workplace cohesion.
The office water cooler has long been a focal point when people needed a quick break, yet its typical placement in the middle of the office didn’t allow for any downtime away from all the activity. The metamorphosis into a separate room, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, calls for several key components beyond a simple sofa for designing a comfortable and inspiring space. A break room should have kitchen-type appliances, including a refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave; food and drink, such as coffee, tea and healthy snacks; paper products, including disposable cups, plates, eating utensils, as well as shelves for reusable mugs and dishes; entertainment — a television and reading material, such as local newspaper, trade and general magazines; and some cleaning supplies, including dish soap, sponges and paper towels.
Some companies have elevated the concept of workplace break rooms to such a level that employees almost feel as though they’ve been treated to a spa day during their lunch hour. From mood lighting to nature sounds, plants to distilled drinking water, and cushioned floor pads to massage recliners, a growing trend is to create an oasis where people can refresh with meditation, short naps or light exercise. Another way to unwind and de-stress is to play games. A 2001 article in “USA Today” pointed out how pool tables, air hockey, darts and other interactive games can add a greater physical element to sideline stress and help employees regain focus.