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Grow Your Business Technology

Technology Advancements Coming to a Break Room Near You

Break room technology
Credit: George Rudy/Shutterstock

It's no secret that a well-maintained and modern break room can help keep employees happy and productive. The break room is a haven for employees to blow off steam, eat a snack and chat with co-workers. According to Psychology Today, workplace socializing can increase overall productivity by 10 to 15 percent. Having a place for workers to convene and be comfortable is a great way to foster that engagement.

Break rooms have come a long way from the simple water cooler and old coffee maker. New technology and appliances can make the break room a much more desirable environment to hang out in.

Coffee makers are a must for any office. However, traditional filtering coffee pots aren't fast and need to be regularly cleaned. Single-serve coffee dispensers like the Keurig are quick and keep the workday flowing without interruption from waiting on the coffee maker. Espresso and cappuccino machines will add even more zip to employees who only need to press a button for caffeine.

Mars' Flavia coffee makers are all-in-one, single-serve drink makers that use packets. The machine is installed in your office with a connection to water, so there's no need to constantly refill it. This is a workplace service, with Mars regularly delivering packets to your office. The digital interface allows you to mix and match a variety of packets to make lattes from coffee, tea and cocoa. There are even packets to make soup.

If you want to be flexible with your office coffee making, Hamilton Beach has a two-way coffee maker that makes full pots of coffee but also accepts single-serving cups.

Rather than vending machines containing the usual junk food, micromarkets offer a wide variety of food and drinks from a self-service, convenience store-style display. Employees just grab their items, scan them on the console, and pay with cash or card. Easy as that.

They don't just run on the honor system. Most of these services come equipped with a visible security camera system to discourage thievery. On systems like 32Market, users can create accounts to deposit money into. To up the convenience, a biometric scanner can record their thumbprints, which they can use for lightning-quick checkout.

The variety and amount of food and drinks in your micromarket may depend on where you're located, but many systems partner with local providers to supply fresh snacks like sandwiches and salads. Many companies try to help with health and weight loss goals for their employees, so Canteen's Avenue C micromarket can be customized to ditch the junk food and provide only healthy choices. For employees with diverse diets, you can be sure to stock your micromarket with foods that are organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher and other options.

Enhance your break room's atmosphere and give it a modern feel with digital signage. The break room can be a place to be informed, so a bulletin board can come in handy. A digital display that can broadcast several messages, announcements or amusing posts will impress employees and businesses.

Enplug is a display management device that plugs into any HD display to manage your screens and display all kinds of information in a scheduled loop. The device is compatible with several plugins, such as a social media feed, video players, calendars and analytics. You can connect to the display with Wi-Fi and make updates, but it's not required for it to work.

Event updates like the office party or fun PSAs can be cycled through, and live announcements can be added without interruption. As it's an office bulletin board, it could be helpful to allow employees to submit suggestions or personal announcements such as items for sale or shoutouts.

Some exciting developments will further modernize the break room and automate its management. The internet of things (IoT) uses sensors and actuators to collect data and perform certain actions. The idea is to connect objects and machines that aren't normally connected to a network. IoT can come in handy for tracking resources like electricity and water. Actuators can be programmed to shut off lights, control the temperature and perform other functions. [Read related article: Guide to Internet of Things: What Your Business Needs to Know]

The sensors are becoming so advanced, they can detect just about anything using sound and vibrations. Carnegie Mellon University developed a sensor that can detect how many sheets of paper towels have been torn and can be programmed to automatically order more when the supply is low. It can detect if the refrigerator has been left open or the water faucet was left on and alert someone.

Using emerging IoT technology can help make sure your staff isn't being wasteful in the break room and that supplies are being efficiently managed.

New technology can make your break room the destination for employees to feel comfortable and socialize. A comfortable atmosphere with caffeine and snacks conveniently available will likely make for more happy workers.

Andreas Rivera

Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a B2B writer for Business.com, Business News Daily and Tom's IT Pro. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.