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The benefits of a workplace breakout area

February 2020

The concept of the breakout area has evolved to become much more than merely soft seating in the corner of an office or a small, dated canteen. It is now a modern solution for offices that utilises comfortable furniture to give employees a break from their working day. But what are the tangible benefits for employers when deciding whether to create a breakout area in the office?

Breakout area

While the public-facing areas of a company are important, the areas within an office that are hidden away are just as important to employees. The modern way of working often means that people are spending much more time at their desks, glued to their computer screens, so the idea of a breakout area is becoming increasingly attractive to employees. Integrating a breakout area in your office gives employees an area that removes them from their working environment, to ultimately boost productivity.

Employees Top Wishes

A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that employee happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.” Some companies are taking note, and are already seeing the payoff!

Employees' 'top office space wishes' include windows to the outside and private, quiet spaces to work, according to a Layton Construction survey from late 2019. Natural lighting, free snacks and drinks, and ergonomic chairs and desks rounded out the top five. But overall the report found that, more than being pampered, employees want their immediate work area to be bright and comfortable.

Other research has resulted in similar findings. For example, 90% of professionals in a Capital One survey said they perform better in a well-designed office area. Three quarters of the respondents favoured a work environment that fosters collaboration, and even more said workspaces designed for concentration also improve performance.

A well-designed breakout zone

A well-designed employee breakout area is a common zone that can serve many purposes. It provides a space for informal catch ups and meetings, a space for grabbing a bite to eat at lunch, somewhere to meet and greet visitors, and importantly, an area where employees can relax away from their work space and to relieve stress.

Giving employees a break from a computer screen also complies with health and safety laws which require employees to take frequent breaks from their workstations when computers are being used. Breakout zones also encourage impromptu conversations that will help build strong bonds amongst workers and can play a key role in creating a working environment that your employees will thrive in. Overall, the aim is to provide employees with a change of scenery, as well as an alternative area for both work and down time.

Making good use of breakout spaces makes sound business sense. A room that is only used for a couple of hours a day can be turned into an efficient multi-use space, used throughout the day, combating rising space costs. In an open office, focus rooms or even small conference rooms can be a great way to give employees lots of natural light and an as-needed, quiet place to work. Providing comfortable and adaptable furniture is also important to provide an attractive, colourful and fun area, which will help to ensure that employees keep using the space.

Furniture for Social Spaces

Soft seating furniture can transform the office environment into a modern, multi-functional work space with different types of seating solutions that encourage agile working and modern work practices.

Upholstered soft seating, such as the Ziggy and Helsinki, helps to create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk. Kraft is a multi-functional, modular seating solution that can easily be arranged in a variety of dynamic configurations to suit any office space, so employees feel relaxed and comfortable when having a break.

The Slab 25 table and bench combination makes a real visual impact, offering a creative, practical solution which will enhance any breakout space, office canteen or café area. Bistro style chairs, such as Fundamental and Gecko, provide the ultimate combination of sleekness and sophistication around a central table which provides somewhere meetings can be held or lunch can be eaten.

Every upholstered item in the Dams soft seating range is made-to-order using the customer’s choice of fabrics for a fully co-ordinated look. Inspiring surroundings can also have a direct effect on an employee’s creativity and carrying out informal brainstorms in a brighter and more stimulating working environment, such as a dedicated workplace breakout area, is likely to be more of a success than in a dull office space.

In Conclusion

During the busy working day, it’s easy to forget that employees need to take some time out to be at their most alert and productive. Whether this is just for a few minutes every hour, or even for 30 minutes at lunchtime, it will help to ultimately increase employee productivity and to improve their overall performance day to day as people will feel more refreshed and relaxed.

Wellbeing is also a very important factor as nobody can produce their best work if they are stressed or haven’t had time to rest and recharge. Sitting for long periods of time at a desk is not only bad for a person’s health, it can be mentally exhausting. Studies have shown that moving around during the working day reduces mental blocks, boosts concentration, causes the heart to beat faster (burning more calories) and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Creating a variety of spaces for employees to work and relax within the office could result in you not only keeping hold of your best workers, but also encourage new talent from elsewhere. People choose to work for companies not just because of the salary they offer, or the opportunities for career progression, but also because of company culture. An office space says a lot about a company, and it should make people feel excited at the prospect of coming to work for that business.

Small to medium companies can sometimes see an office breakout area as an unnecessary luxury that the company cannot afford, but employers should consider the benefits and how this will impact on the company’s performance before ruling out a breakout zone. As has been outlined above, having an office breakout space carries a number of important benefits with it. Over recent years, employers have become more knowledgeable about the importance of having them, which has contributed towards positive results for thousands of businesses around the world.

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