5 Ideas for Creating the Perfect Break Room at Work

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 Michael Kerr

If you can pardon the play on words, a break room could make or break your employee morale.

Long thought of as a purely functional place to stash your lunch or buy a candy bar, today’s workplace culture has begun to think of this space as a recreational room away from home, with games, food and maybe even a beanbag game or two. Part of the reason is the need to offer more non-monetary incentives to keep employees happy. The other part is simple corporate peer pressure—if others companies are making fun rooms, you should too. Some of it is basic management: If you make your company’s rec room an attractive place to visit, your hardworking employees will be more likely to want to head there during required break times.

If you’re trying to transform your culture positively, break room fixes are good places to start.

1. Bring in games

Some companies have coin-ops, others have video game consoles. Some go old-old school and bring in billiard tables or Ping-Pong tables. According to Business Bee, the best corporate break rooms offer dedicated video game areas. Employees like to play, compete and blow off steam.

Photo by tnarik via Flickr

2. Include quiet areas

Not everyone wants to get wild and crazy on their breaks—some might want to catch their breath. Denver-based CH2M Hill included quiet and loud areas in its break rooms and the rest of its headquarters during a recent renovation. This included a café-like seating area with lots of windows, near meeting rooms where people can be a little noisier. Other companies, such as Nationwide Planning Associates take the quiet approach a little further by offering nap rooms for employees on their breaks.

3. Use it as a place to communicate

Dedicate one wall to shared messages, starting by required signage like Intuit’s federal labor law posters and company policies. These show employees details of their rights, such as guaranteed number of hours and breaks. It also could be a place for fun company info like standings in the company softball league, a calendar of upcoming company events, and maybe even a classified bulletin board for employees to list things items for sale. Core information like mission statements, internal job openings or even inspirational messages could be welcome.

Photo by romana klee via Flickr

4. Keep it clean

The best-laid plans for the hippest break room in town could be derailed by something as simple as a microwave that’s never cleaned up or stacks of dirty dishes. Encourage employees to share the responsibility of keeping the break room clean. Clean-up duties could be rotated between different work groups, or the task given to the custodial crew. Policies like cleaning out the fridge on a monthly basis also could be shared.

5. Make it food-friendly

Though larger companies have in-house kitchens, you don’t have to go this far on a limited budget. Consider offering healthy treats, or monthly items like First Friday Pizza Parties. Morgan Sims, a columnist at the YoungUpstarts business blog, suggests the ideal break room should include a good assortment of beverages such as powdered drink mixes and all the fixings for coffee.

Photo by nateOne via Flickr

- Article courtesy Britt Roberts Entrepreneur

 

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