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While the connection between office design and a healthy, productive work environment is clear, facilities and culture experts are also beginning to unpack the importance of break room design in your company culture.

A recent study published in Healthcare Design Magazine revealed that “an extreme break room makeover” at one health facility reduced staff “stress and fatigue” so dramatically that staff turnover-related costs even improved.

Among many research-driven organizations, there’s a definitive trend toward investing heavily in break room designs that act as a holistic, healthy retreat for staff members. In the words of workplace strategist Stephanie Heiple, “A break room with some vending machines is not cutting it anymore as a nice place to which employees can retreat.”

According to Heiple’s research published in FMLink, companies are wise to consider their ratio of individuals to break spaces, the quality of break room amenities, the selection of color and furniture and how other factors impact break room design and culture. 

To help you understand how to customize your space to fit your cultural objectives and boost your employee morale, review of some of today’s best practices in break room design.

Take a Break

The days of driving maximum employee productivity at all costs are over. Leaders are now well aware that the happiest, most creative and highly engaged employees are the ones who don’t sit at their desk pounding out work from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

However, while 86 percent of employees admit they’re more productive when they take breaks, a full 25 percent forget to take a few minutes off during an eight-hour shift. The disconnect between employees who recognize the value of breaks and the ones who actually take them is driving the world’s most innovative and employee-centric organizations to rethink their break rooms.

Today’s corporate culture is trending toward more high-quality employee perks, including healthy snacks and better break room coffee. Instead of low-quality drip coffee, companies are fueling their employees with higher-quality local cold brew on tap via nitrogen-fueled kegerators, coconut water, probiotic beverages, cold pressed juices and similarly, great break room chilled beverage perks.

Corporate Essentials is part of the movement to “work happy,” with organizations increasingly discovering that showing your employees that you value them results in better retention, happier people and higher quality customer services.

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Top Companies That Break

PopCap, the company behind legendary Facebook games like Bejeweled, offers “lush sectional” couches, video game consoles and some seriously “tricked out” kitchens on each floor of their facilities. Their office is infused with fun, including random Razor scooters that are available to any staff who think better while in motion.

According to the organization, the ability to have fun is their competitive advantage and helps them deliver the best games to their customers. This trend isn’t limited to the U.S., either.

Worldwide, there’s a movement toward encouraging employees to have fun in order to help build meaningful connections with coworkers, as well as to help them do creative work. Xero, an international accounting firm with locations in New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia, has a synchronized “coffee break” for all staff each day at 11 a.m.

In Lisbon, Portugal, Innowave offers an outdoor break room with communal tables and a putting green. In Hong Kong, EF Education First’s employee break room perks include an open pantry. Worldwide, staff is starting to be encouraged to nourish themselves, relax and recharge with cutting-edge break room design.

Customize and Personalize

It might be out of place for a conservative accounting firm to field Razor scooters and video game consoles. The best break rooms aren’t just well-stocked with coffee and healthy snacks and filled with natural light; they’re also customized to a company’s unique culture.

For organizations that are embarking on an extreme break room makeover project, collecting employee feedback regarding unique additions can be key to enhancing the essentials. Let your company culture, and your employees, give you cues on how to customize and personalize your new break room.

For Camelback, maker of trail-ready water bottles, the office break room includes showers because employees have a tendency to go on intense hikes and get a little sweaty in the process. At Mindbody, a leading app for scheduling fitness classes and other services, there are regular massages and wellness classes in the break room.

A similar commitment to personalizing your offerings above and beyond the basic essentials is what turns great perks into a culture where employees are highly engaged and enjoy being at work.

Brilliantly Exceeding the Essentials for Break Room Design

While every organization’s ideal break room is slightly different, depending on their culture, values and employees, there are bare essentials for a modern break room design that improves your culture.

According to Corporate Essentials, there are a few key concepts about design that likely have a place in each and every office break room:

  • Functionality, organization and the necessities for employees to make coffee and snacks.
  • Style and a visually appealing space that lets employees relax and encourages them to have impromptu collaboration sessions
  • Customization, or using the space and culture you have to create a custom design that supports your cultural objectives

For some organizations, the essentials of break room design could include treadmills and a near-endless supply of filtered water. For others, it could include lots of board games and plenty of healthy snacks for staff.

As organizations uncover the connection between culture and employee performance, there’s more and more global recognition of the importance of break room design.

By letting your employees and culture dictate how you personalize your in-office retreat, you can encourage your people to work happy, take breaks and have fun at work.

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Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.