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Now that employees are returning to the office after the work-from-home exodus that accompanied the pandemic, break rooms may be more important than ever. They give workers the space they need to relax, collaborate and recharge throughout the day. When designed thoughtfully, they can boost morale, engagement, and productivity, especially for employees who have grown accustomed to the relaxed, laid-back vibe of working from home.

Whether you are thinking about overhauling your current break room, adding new amenities, or redesigning your break room completely, knowing where to start can be daunting. Just Google “break room design,” and you’ll find countless possibilities! Ideas run the gamut from dartboards and video games to beer kegs and sleep pods. But what’s most important to consider is finding a break room design that aligns with the needs and preferences of your organization.

Most break rooms have certain essentials — a kitchen, a coffee station, a TV, and tables and chairs for eating lunch, catching up with coworkers, or hosting the occasional office potluck. But you can incorporate many more features to make break rooms inviting, productive and meaningful for employees. Here are a few ideas:

Comfy, Versatile Seating

If you want to create a space where employees feel like they can truly relax and break away from their cubes’ confines, invest in cozy seating, including sofas, couches, and coffee tables. Not only will this make them feel more comfortable, but it can also muffle the sound for those who want to keep conversations private or enjoy quiet time. And if you can find flexible pieces, even better. Teknion makes a Bonds line of seating with a free-form design that is playful, functional, and comes in various textures, colors, and finishes. Inspired by the concept of a Jacob’s ladder, the seats can easily be connected or arranged in different configurations to suit the room’s vibe. The collection also comes with tables that can be tucked between the seats to provide space for holding a laptop, setting down a Yeti, or hooking into electronics.

Cafe-style Settings

Most break rooms are the designated spot for eating, drinking, and socializing in the office, so why not turn them into cafes? Incorporating a cafe-style design in break rooms encourages people to gather, converse, and even discuss projects and brainstorm ideas over a cup of joe or their bag lunches. Plus, cafes are agile and can be used for different purposes, from hosting a team huddle in the morning to a client reception in the late afternoon. Employees can also find refuge in cafes when they need to work alone or closely with colleagues. Studio TK offers an extensive line of cafe furniture that includes bars, booths, pub-style tables, stools, cafe-style lighting and seating, and more. Watson also makes various cafe and lounge furniture, including benches and tables for working, perching, chatting, and recharging, as well as engaging in impromptu meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Game Tables and Other Fun Activities and Decor

Break rooms should live up to their description — they should give people a break from work or activities that demand their full concentration. A break room’s palette should differ from the rest of the office. Encourage employees to let loose or blow off steam with recreational features like game tables, workout equipment, or activity stations. Make the space invigorating by replacing bland walls with vibrant colors or wall art. Bringing in fresh air, sunlight, plants, and other natural elements make people feel lighter and more connected with nature. And research shows that incorporating recreation and healthy lifestyle features into a workspace can boost productivity.

Adaptable and Socially Distanced Spaces

In our post-COVID world, safety should be a key consideration when it comes to break room design. It’s important to think about social distancing, choosing furniture that can be easily cleaned and sanitized, and providing ample space to avoid potential congestion. Teknion’s collection of Banqs lounge seating includes sofas, screens, tables, and accessories such as audio/visual hookups and table lamps that can be arranged to create socially distanced linear seating or more isolated hubs and booths. It can also be adapted for different purposes, from informal meetings and quick collabs to more focused, individual work. For employers moving to a hybrid work model that integrates in-office and remote work, Teknion’s Kiosk collection of flexible furniture can be reconfigured on the fly and adapted for various uses, from collaborative spaces to quiet spaces for catching up on emails.

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