Think about how certain places affect your mood and well-being. Maybe you feel content and safe in your bedroom; perhaps you feel anxious and stressed in hospitals. Your setting might impact you more than you realize.
In the workplace, it's crucial to build an inspiring, supportive atmosphere. Every office or job site should have a specific space dedicated to downtime.
"Today's workforce works extremely hard, putting in long hours that often spill into our home lives," said Jonathan Proffitt, senior director of global real estate and facilities for Kronos Incorporated. "People need a place to decompress at work, both physically and mentally. To do that effectively, the space should look and feel different from the rest of the office to distinguish it as a place to relax, rewind and collaborate with colleagues."
Here are some important elements to include in a productive break room.
1. Healthy food and drinks
Your office break room should always be stocked with an array of healthy options. You want to ensure you're providing your employees with ingredients that promote energy and wellness. Set out fresh fruit for an afternoon snack, purchase a water filter, and offer guilt-free snacks like nuts or parfaits.
And, of course, don't forget the caffeine. "Coffee keeps the workforce stimulated and has been a bonding hub since the dawn of the office building," said Proffitt.
While it might seem like watching TV should be discouraged in the workplace, it's actually a stress reliever in moderation. Proffitt said that having a TV in the break room allows employees to unwind without obsessing over their impending workload. Certain shows may even bring employees together, establishing common ground.
"[TVs] can help you stem unplanned absenteeism while building camaraderie during must-see events like March Madness, the World Cup, Olympics and major news milestones by encouraging company watch parties during work hours," he said.
If you'd like to include a more productive option than TVs, consider lining the room with bookshelves, loaded with books of all genres. You're never too old or settled in your career to learn something new or escape into a fictional story. [Read a Book! It's Good for Your Career]
4. Comfortable furniture
Invest in couches or seating that isn't stiff like typical desk chairs. Workers will feel more relaxed and relieved from muscle tension while resting on cushioned benches and soft furniture, kicking their feet up.
5. Workout equipment
On the other hand, some employees might prefer getting active on their breaks. Physical activity boosts cognitive stimulation, which helps workers feel more motivated to complete tasks and projects while promoting health and wellness. Provide equipment like a treadmill, light weights and yoga mats for your employees. [Want to create a healthier workplace for your employees? Follow these three steps.]
6. Taste of the outdoors
Nature often has a positive impact on the mind and body, making you more alert and inspired. Allow natural lighting and fresh air in through a cracked window or two, and include some vegetation to channel biophilia. This will help workers feel psychologically and physically healthier while sparking creativity and inspiration, improving their moods.
7. Positive and inclusive culture
While the physical aspects of your break room are essential, don't forget the overall feel of the space. The area should be welcoming and personal to all workers, meaning everyone should have an equal say in the layout and elements.
"It's also critically important that managers set a good example of taking time to use the amenities and bond with staff as well," said Proffitt. "After all, high engagement and high performance are not mutually exclusive – in fact, we believe one drives the other."