5 Upgrades to Your Employee Break Area to Improve Productivity

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The employee break room: upgrading the space where they escape from the strains of work can be an excellent investment.

Managing a team is challenging.

Some days, the pressures of meeting client demands, while at the same time providing a relaxed work environment for your team can be untenable.

For the sake of your sanity as a leader, and your team’s job-satisfaction, upgrading the space where they escape from the strains of work can be an excellent investment. 

Related Article:Is Your Culture Toxic? Tell-Tale Signs That Your Company Culture Needs a Re-Boot

Regular Breaks Boost Productivity 

Study after study shows that burnout hurts productivity. To minimize the risk of burning out your team, employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks. As reported in The Atlantic, working for 52 minutes and then breaking for 17 minutes yields maximum focus and productivity.

These 17 minute breaks should be taken away from the computer; getting some light exercise in is ideal. The biggest benefit comes from standing up and improving circulation. 

The Tranquility of Water 

For generations, the relaxing properties of water have been cherished by humans seeking a retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. A blog article entitled, "Top Large Outdoor Fountains of 2016" mentions that “…in Feng Shui, a water fountain in your yard brings…good luck, prosperity, and abundance.”

In business, one needs all the good luck, prosperity and abundance they can get. Competition can be brutal, and a relaxing lunch break next to a running fountain is a great way to unwind. 

If you’re going to install a fountain, you’ll want to pay careful attention to the strength of the water’s flow. If the fountain is too powerful, you’ll find employees shouting at each other in an effort to be heard. If it’s too low, then the flow of the water might not even be perceptible. Dial it in to give the relaxation of white noise without the conversation ending power of a waterfall. 

A Cozy Fire’s Warmth 

While water and fire might sound like polar opposites, the inclusion of a warm fireplace in the office can be incredibly beneficial to morale. The flames dance, almost trancelike, and allow employees to feel more at home and at ease. But, if you’re going to install a fireplace in your office, pay careful attention to the maintenance a structure like a chimney will require.

According to the Brick Industry Association, as reported in Master Services Chimney and Wildlife, “…chimneys require special attention and maintenance to prevent costly damage caused by water penetration.”  

There are few things more damaging to morale at work than construction projects in the office. If the masonry in your office needs repair, that could mean loud, dirty equipment operated both inside and outside your office during working hours. Yuck! 

Related Article:Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay

A properly maintained fireplace will help employees feel relaxed and at home. Whether it’s the dancing of the flames, or the warm crackle of wood burning, there’s something psychologically settling about a fire. If you don’t believe me, fire up a fire wallpaper on your desktop (pun intended).

Stare at it while you ponder an upcoming project, or consider the work you just completed. Your mind will feel at ease and your thoughts will gain a certain flow that’s sure to boost productivity. 

Game Time

If you’re going to invest in a killer breakroom, you can’t forget the games. Foosball, pool and table tennis are great additions to any breakroom. Give your employees permission to unwind and burn off some stress with some friendly competition. Getting up and moving, instead of sitting and staring at a TV screen, promotes health and increases mental stamina.  

Your breakroom needs to be totally different in both function and style from the rest of your office. Take a note from Google, which according to USGS.gov has a near zero percent employee turnover rate and gets nearly 7,000 unsolicited applications for jobs every day. Their focus on culture, including excellent employee work atmosphere, propels them to the top of many lists for best places to work. 

Related Article:Turning the Ship Around: A Guide to Changing Workplace Culture

Invite Employee Feedback; Encourage a Sense of Ownership 

Your employees need to own the space. Your office represents a place where they spend a massive amount of their daily life. If you want the best from your team, you need to encourage them to give you feedback on what will improve the space. For example, a suggestion box is a great way to collect feedback on the breakroom. 

Virtual suggestion boxes have been trending as a digital era solution to getting anonymous, powerful employee feedback in real-time. Feedback and communication should be a cornerstone of your organization. According to an infographic published by HubSpot, companies that emphasize regular feedback realize a 14.9 percent decrease in employee turnover. 

Creating a killer breakroom, based on employee feedback, allows employees to feel appreciated and valued. They work hard to help move your organization forward. Don’t let something as simple as a poorly conceived breakroom hold your company back. Communicate, innovate and create a workspace that helps employees feel right at home while they work hard. 

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