Nowadays, everyone – including employers – recognise the benefits of taking breaks at work. Even with that widely accepted notion though, many people still don’t take their breaks as often as they should. There are a lot of reasons why people choose to skip their breaks, but the two common reasons that come up time and time again are: 1) they’re afraid of looking like that slacker; and 2) there simply isn’t anywhere they feel comfortable enough to relax for a break. So rather than going through the stress of dealing with those issues, they just opt to stay at their desks instead and try to squeeze out a little more productivity out of their overworked brains.
As employers, you have the opportunity to break down those issues in one fell swoop: investing in a fun, tricked-out lunchroom. In doing so, you’re not just providing an attractive place for employees to hang out on their breaks – you’re also making a strong, silent statement to employees that it’s okay to take breaks and that breaks are actively supported by the employer.
To build a lunchroom that your employees will want to come to, here are five cool ideas:
Distinct space from rest of office
You want to create a relaxation zone that’s different from the rest of the office because it’d defeat the purpose if employees feel like they’re just in another conference room, except this one happens to have a fridge and a microwave. You can change up the look and feel of the lunchroom by using a different wall colour scheme and putting up casual or even quirky décor.
Apart from using a different colour scheme from the rest of the office, integrate bright colours that complement each other in the lunchroom design. Whether it’s through wall paint, artwork, or furniture, bright (non-garish!) colours will stimulate employees’ minds and help them recharge their energy.
Comfy, re-arrangeable furniture
It’s difficult to lounge in hard, lumpy chairs or couches and just as difficult to eat at uneven tables. Get good-quality furniture that fit the lunchroom colour scheme you’re going for. For long-term planning’s sake, make sure all the furniture – or at least the tables – are of a matching set so that they can be easily put together for office parties in the future.
Coffee and snacks, on the house
Although this does add to ongoing office supply expenses, it’s actually a smart move to make. People who go out to get their coffee fix often spend between 15 – 20 minutes away from the office with all the extra travel and line-up time; that can quickly add up to a lot of wasted time that could be eliminated by the less expensive option of keeping the lunchroom stocked with never-ending coffee and snacks. You’d save money in the long run and your employees would love you for it because, after all, who doesn’t like free coffee and snacks?
Fun and games encouraged
Besides a place to eat and have coffee, the lunchroom should also be somewhere employees can unwind and have a little fun. Set up a pool table, foosball table, or a ping pong table; hook up a television; put in board games and even video games. Other fun ideas include: a chalkboard for employees to doodle on, a bulletin board for personal announcements, and silly words fridge magnets.
When designing the lunchroom, you should make the size of it proportionate to the number of employees you have because you don’t want it to feel too cramped or empty all the time. Also – if you have the space and budget for it – the ideal scenario is to set aside space for an additional and separate quiet break room. This is for employees who prefer a more tranquil break time where they can read, catch a nap, do yoga, or just sit in peace.
The key to all these ideas is to give employees the chance to let loose and creatively interact with each other. They’ll then be much more energised and ready for a fresh round of productivity after their breaks. It may seem like a lot of money for “just a lunchroom”, but that’d be missing the point: because it’s not “just a lunchroom” – it’s an investment in employee well-being and the productivity returns you’ll reap in the end is priceless.