Break Out of the Routine with these Office Break Room Tips

Break Out of the Routine with these Office Break Room Tips

In the not-too-distant past, the office water cooler was the place to be. More than a brief stop for refreshment, this legendary workplace gathering spot was where many companies’ “real talk” took place. Employees congregated to chat about their favorite TV shows, their families, or the latest office gossip.

The water cooler concept has evolved over the years. In decades where companies focused on the bottom line above corporate culture, the office break room was a joyless, poorly-lit space with microwaves and coffee makers that had seen better days, and fridges overrun with forgotten leftovers. After all, the less desirable space, the less time employees would spend away from their desks.

In today’s corporate world, most large companies have recognized the importance of valuing their human capital. At places like Google and Facebook, break rooms are more like spa retreats or arcades — full of diversions to pamper and amuse hard workers. But these grown-up wonderlands can cost a ton of money — something not every company can invest in their break room setup.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of affordable ways you can make your office break room a great getaway, and we’ll look at “The How” in a moment. But first, why is having a dedicated and appealing break space so important?

The Why

Keeping the Balance

In the last couple decades we’ve all heard a lot about work/life balance, that elusive ratio of career to a personal life that keeps employees happy, healthy and productive. Giving employees a space to get away from their desks, enjoy a social moment with colleagues, grab a snack or a cup of coffee and not think about a looming deadline gets them a little closer to that balance… without leaving the office.

It’s Not All Fun and Games

Sure, a good break room will have some non-work-related distractions, but the fact is, when co-workers gather in a communal meeting space, work is going to be on the list of topics. In fact, in a setting that’s more relaxed and comfortable, employees may think up a creative business solution they hadn’t before considered.

It’s the Law

Employees have the legal right to work breaks throughout the day, and in some industries, they are also required to be provided with access to drinking water and sheltered spaces. Check with OSHA to make sure you’re meeting the regulations for your industry and state.

The How

Never Underestimate the Power of Coffee

Coffee powers a majority of office workers through their days — it’s inexpensive, jam-packed with caffeine, and smells great (to most). If it makes sense in your budget, providing free coffee (along with all the fixings) is a gesture of goodwill toward employees. As a bonus, if they know the coffee will be fresh and hot when they arrive, they won’t have to stop on the way into work or duck out for their afternoon fix. Make sure your break room is stocked with functioning coffee makers and accessories, and all the supplies your employees need.

Keep it Clean

If your facility is large enough for a maintenance staff, make sure employees know when and how the break room will be cleaned out. Specifically, set up a purge schedule for the fridge, where food can quickly go from questionable to outright heinous. Make sure employees have clearly marked trash and recycling bins, and that they can find supplies like garbage bags and dish cleaners  when needed.

Have a Little Fun

Be sure your break room is a place employees want to be. Keep games on-hand, and if it’s feasible, a TV that can help them feel connected to the outside world. Schedule regular celebrations to make it a bright space — baby showers, birthdays, retirements, and even some “just because” parties. These will make employees feel like work is a place to celebrate, both professionally and personally.

The What

A break room won’t get any use if it isn’t useful. Be sure you have clean, working appliances and comfortable places to sit, eat and enjoy. Stock up on supplies like disposable cups, plastic utensils, and paper plates so employees can always find what they need.

It can be easy and cost-effective to make your break room a place employees want to be. If you need help determining which break room supplies are the best for your business, contact us with your questions.

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