How Can Breakout Areas Positively Influence a Workplace?

  • November 06, 2017

    Studies have shown that businesses that incorporate an open, relaxed breakout space in their workplace often have happier, more productive staff. When planning a new office fit-out or renovation, ergonomic and user-friendly layouts are the way of the future. But what makes breakout spaces so beneficial to employee wellbeing? Here, we look at four ways breakout spaces can positively influence your work environment, as well as how to make your newly-refurbished breakout area really pop.

    Promote Productivity

    In 2015, the scientific journal, Cognition, published a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that found taking regular breaks actually improves productivity. Regular breaks have been proven to make focusing on tasks for a prolonged period of time much easier. According to the findings from the University of Illinois’ study, participants often got more work done when they took multiple breaks throughout the day, compared to participants who tried to push through with no breaks. These findings have been linked to the concept of ‘Vigilance Decrement’, which is a drop in attention that occurs after constant stimulus to a particular sound, sight, touch or smell. For instance, have you ever noticed that unless you’re actively thinking about it, you don’t really feel clothing against your skin? This is because your body grows accustomed to the feeling of fabric against your body, so you typically only notice it if you’re wearing something uncomfortable or if you’re too cold or too hot. When we take regular breaks at work, we’re allowing our brain to recuperate, allowing us to go back to work with a renewed energy and sense of purpose. To achieve the best results, it’s recommended you take breaks outside of your normal working environment (so eating lunch at your desk is a definite no, no). Workplaces that have a separate breakout space that can be utilised both for teamwork and breaks, will find their employees perform better than workers who don’t have a communal space to relax.

    Increase Creativity

    People are at their most creative when they’re in a comfortable, welcoming space. Unfortunately, because we spend so much time at our desks, everyday workstations and work areas can feel somewhat stifling. A more relaxed environment that’s separate to your employee’s normal workstation will be more conducive for coming up with fresh ideas. Having a dedicated collaborative space is also good for creativity as the bright, comfy space can encourage staff to think outside of the box during brainstorming sessions, while also improving their productivity.

    Enhance Social Engagement

    When employees spend all day at their individual desks or cubicles, or in separate offices, employee interaction is kept to a minimum. Not only can this hinder people’s ability to work in a team, it also isolates them and can increase the likelihood of staff members becoming lonely and even depressed. Eating lunch at your desk will only make this worse. A casual, open area for staff to hang out at lunchtime is the perfect remedy to this problem. Try to incorporate some activities within the space too, like table tennis, a pool table or even a music system, so staff can wind down on their breaks and after work together. After all, staff that get along with each other socially will also be able to work better as a team.

    Improve Employee Wellness, While Reducing Stress

    A lot of research has been conducted on the negative affects of sitting down all day. From increased risk of heart disease to posture and back issues, getting up and moving around at regular intervals is essential for health and wellbeing.   When workers have access to a breakout space, it will encourage them to take a break more often, move around the office and grab a healthy snack or a cup of coffee. Regular breaks will also play a big role in alleviating stress and can help reduce the prevalence of depression and mental health issues in office environments, as staff are actively taking some time for themselves and spending more time with their colleagues in a relaxing space.    

    What to Include in Your Breakout Space

      To get the most out of a breakout space, make sure it’s equipped with comfortable furnishings, is colourful and has plenty of light. If natural light is an issue, pendant lights will work a treat. You’ll be able to get ideas from your designer about the best possible layout for your space, but as long as it’s open and welcoming, has comfortable furniture and pops of colour, you’ll be on track to improving your staff’s productivity, creativity and overall social and mental wellbeing. If your office is in need of a facelift, or you just want to update your space to incorporate a communal area for your staff to enjoy, talk to DAVIDSON Projects today! Our office fit-out specialists can work with your designer to bring your ideal breakout space to life.
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