Amazing office breakout spaces have become an essential part of the office environment, providing a comfortable space to relax, socialise, host meetings and facilitate creative processes. These areas are ideal for allowing your teams to escape their desks and switch off, improve morale, optimise productivity and promote team bonding.
What is a breakout area?
A breakout area can be characterised by the feeling that the space brings to your employees rather than any pre-defined rules, they can be big or small, extravagant or understated. An ideal breakout area gives your team the space to chill, socialise, hold an impromptu meeting or just escape their desk to recharge.
To help you create the perfect breakout space for your business we’ve come up with our 5 top considerations when planning to introduce, or upgrade, your breakout space.
Define what you want the space to be
Understanding the purpose of your amazing office breakout space during the design phase allows for much quicker design decisions and a much more effective space in the long run. Do you want a gaming zone, a chill out area, an informal meeting space, a socialising spot, nap pods…the options are virtually limitless, which can lead to confusing and underutilised spaces if you’re not careful.
Breakout spaces that are poorly utilised often suffer because their function is not obvious. While it is important that your breakout space is multifunctional to justify its footprint within the office, its purpose and function must also be clear to your teams.
Bonus tip- why not create a poll of your employees and find out what they would like to see in the breakout area, creating a sense of belonging and buy-in straight from the design phase.
Location, Location, Location
Once you have defined the primary function of the space, it will be much easier to decide on the best location. If the space is going to involve lively discussions, then you don’t want it located next to work desks where it can cause distraction. Conversely, if your space is going to act as a quiet zone for contemplation, then the constant interruption of ringing phones, whirring printers and even road traffic may prove to be too distracting, so you may want to consider sound proofing booths or background sounds.
It is also worth considering that location plays a major role in which employees utilise the space the most. Departments closest to the area may tend to appropriate the space as their own and become an unofficial office extension, whereas areas near Receptions can end up being used as overspill extensions of your waiting area.
Furniture fit for purpose
Furniture choices are crucial in setting the expectations of a space. The wrong choice can completely ruin the look, imagine a 5 star hotel lobby with cheap plastic patio furniture, or a grand cathedral with bean bags. The furniture choices help people make sense of an area and can have a significant effect on how they act within that space.
Being bold, flexible and versatile in your furniture choices gives you the best chance of the space being utilised for more than one purpose. But ensure you don’t prioritise function over design too much or you’ll end up with a drab, unused space that doesn’t attract your teams.
(Bonus tip- always consider the location of your power sockets…nobody needs to be playing limbo under laptop charger cables.)
Does your breakout space benefit from natural light? If not, how can you ensure the space is well lit yet still psychologically pleasing?
It’s no surprise that office lighting can play a major role in the way an employee feels, we can all relate to having worked in offices where we leave with headaches, neck pain or itchy eyes and the distinct lack of enthusiasm you felt having to return to the same desk the following day.
The use of ergonomic lighting, different from the lighting elsewhere in the office can quickly and easily create a different mood within your breakout space. Consider replacing ceiling lights with table lamps, reduce the brightness of the bulbs or change the colour of the light (more on colour next…)
Use colour wisely
Whether you want to utilise your brand colours, evoke the relaxing greens of nature or invoke the fun of the circus with bright and bold colour choices, the tones you choose will define the feelings within a space.
Colour psychologists can help you determine the best combination of colours to communicate the purpose of your space, but a simple tip is to think about the emotion conjured up by your colour choice and ask yourself if it relates to the energy you’re looking to create. Bold reds can encourage urgency, whereas cool blues and greens generate harmonious relaxation and self-reflection. Orange and yellow tones promote optimism and positivity, whilst grey and blacks can give a sense of practicality and power to a space.
Using colour to define the purpose of different areas can be a fantastic way of partitioning your space without the need for physical barriers. Whatever your colour choices don’t feel bound to a single colour palette, your options are endless and a variety of colours can be the difference between a great, well utilised breakout space and an additional dreary staff room.