A common theme of our past blog posts is that we primarily discuss tactics in which you can use to improve either your company’s, or your own, productivity or morale. With a name like ICC Business Products, it makes sense that most of our blogs would be about things like the benefits of sound masking, or how office furniture can affect your productivity, however there is one room that we have seemed to have forgotten. That room is the breakroom! Although it is commonly seen as the area where you go to escape from work, it can actually play a huge influence on your office’s culture. Thus, just like ICC has a lot more than just business products and furniture, your breakroom has a lot more to offer as well.
Putting the Break in Breakroom
On the surface level the breakroom seems like the last place you would think about when it comes to improving your office’s productivity. However if you had a chance to read our blog about “The Real Secret to Time Management” then you would know that breaks are a crucial part of a successful workflow cycle. In fact, experts actually suggest taking 10-15 minute breaks every 75 to 90 minutes during your workday. Not only is this a good time to stretch your muscles and give your eyes a break from staring at a computer screen, but it also helps you better retain information as it gives your mind time to internalize information. In addition, research by Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working, shows that humans naturally move from full focus and energy to physiological fatigue every 90 minutes. In other words, your productivity will automatically go down unless you give your body a moment to rest. What better way to encourage employees to take a break than providing them an inviting place to do it?
Humans are creatures of habit at the core. Thus, simply by providing your employees with a breakroom that is comfortable and worth visiting will naturally encourage them to take their much needed breaks. When I first started at ICC our breakroom was essentially just a small office that happened to have a microwave, fridge, and old TV. I mean this TV even still had the rabbit ears on the back of it. At max you could fit 3 people in the room at a time and thus, unsurprisingly, there were never more than 2 people in the breakroom! Luckily that all changed in 2019 when ICC renovated its offices and tripled the size of our breakroom. That old TV turned into a giant plasma TV. We expanded the kitchen area and added all sorts of seating from high top tables to big leather couches. Now you can guarantee that someone is always in the breakroom and most of the time they are chatting with a coworker. It may just be small talk but small talk is important in a workplace and it can grow into so much more.
Breaking Down Barriers
The daily conversations between coworkers in the breakroom can sprout into major changes for the company. Too often employees segregate into their own departments or teams that it can turn your typical office into a 90’s movie high school. Us vs Them mentalities only lead to poor morale, poor communication, and even worse poor productivity. However, the breakroom is the one common space shared by everyone in the office. Kind of like the watering hole in the Sahara of Africa, the breakroom is the one place where everyone is equal. This inclusiveness is a much better morale builder than any pizza party. Plus, the approachability that the breakroom provides can sprout great new ideas. Its informal setting has proven to increase the probability of cross-department collaboration as coworkers can feel at ease running ideas by each other.
Now that you know the great benefits that your breakroom can offer, it’s time to put your breakroom to use. Of course, in order for these positive changes to work, your breakroom will have to be worth visiting. Here are some breakroom basics that can get you started on the right path to creating the perfect breakroom for your office;
- Appliances, including a coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave. I donated a toaster oven to our breakroom and I cannot stress enough how much better pizza tastes reheated in that instead of a microwave.
- Drinks, such as coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. Also, make sure you have a water cooler, water fountain, or other source of water. Even having a vending machine for soda will be much appreciated!
- Paper products, such as plates, napkins, forks, spoons, and other utensils used for eating. Our office even keeps serving utensils and a cake cutter for special occasions.
- Cleaning supplies including paper towels and dish soap as well as some other common household cleaning products. This way you can ensure the shared space stays clean.
- Snacks! Not just any snacks, specifically healthy snacks. You cannot control what your employees eat however by providing healthy options in your breakroom you can encourage them to practice better nutrition. Plus, healthy snacks like fruit are far less likely to result in a mid-day crash compared to sweets like cookies.
You can also step it up a notch by adding a TV or even games! Our breakroom at ICC has a chess set for the occasional game of kings. The core purpose of the breakroom is to create a common space for your coworkers to share. So, don’t be afraid of reaching out to see what things the office would most value. My wife’s office is obsessed with their ping pong table and yours might be too. Regardless of what you are looking for you can be sure that ICC will be able to provide it. As always, feel free to reach out to your ICC Client Support Specialist or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see all that we have to offer.
Still in the mood for reading? Check out our blog to read other interesting lists and insights into the business world. Needing to do some work of your own? ICC’s online catalog has everything you need to run your business, even personalized branding products!