Breakout Areas … and Why You Need Them
Traditional office-design thinking was to minimise areas of staff congregation and any areas other than workspace were kept to a bare minimum. However, this approach has radically been shaken-up in recent years and the reasoning behind it, and impact this shift has on a business and its staff, may surprise you!
Anything that offers a distraction from working should be avoided as it lessens productivity!
Despite this train of thinking still being prevalent in modern business, an increasing number of workplace studies have shown that this simply isn’t true. In fact, quite the opposite has been shown to true which is the result of a combination of a number of factors.
A sense of well-being has been shown to have a direct correlation to a workers’ productivity and thought process and the lack of provision for areas away from the desk in an office, and lack of interaction with other staff, lowers this sense of well-being. Workers being able to ‘escape‘ their workstations, albeit briefly, have more focus and thus productivity: if this can be combined with some interaction with other staff then this is further increased.
Do your workers eat at their desks? If so, this too perpetuates the feeling of being actively engaged in work even if the staff are on their breaks which, in light of the above, further compounds stress levels and a lessening of the sense of well-being and thus, diminishes productivity: the more time spent at the workstation doesn’t necessarily mean the more productive a member of staff becomes.
If you’re chatting, you’re not working!
Another misnomer is that workers engaged in conversation are far from beneficial to the work throughput of a company. Again, this notion has been challenged in current thinking and office design and layout is a major factor in facilitating staff interaction: indeed, many of the largest global companies today design their headquarters and office spaces to actively promote staff interaction such as Google and Facebook.
Whilst the modern concepts of ‘collision spaces‘ and ‘collaborative working‘ may have slipped past some employers – along with their relative potential benefits to a business – research has shown that interaction between staff members, and in particular staff members from different departments, can have a significant impact on productivity, problem solving, conceptualising new ideas and making employees better appreciate their part in an organisation.
When it comes to problem solving in particular, the concept that more heads are better than one is certainly borne-out with staff working in environments where they can discuss problems to be overcome with other staff from within an organisation shown to develop more robust solutions than those who are ‘tied to their desks‘ until a solution is thought-up … and are certainly less stressed!
What part does office interior design play?
Office design/layout is key to providing areas in which staff can relax, collaborate, enjoy refreshments, meet other staff and ‘escape‘ their workstations for a while and so overcome the problems highlighted above with the company left to reap the benefits in terms of staff morale, productivity, lower sick rates etc.
Whilst not a panacea for all ills, the benefits of providing ‘breakout spaces’ within a workplace cannot be overstated with a highly favourable ‘cost:benefit‘ ratio for an employer.
Of course, space can be an issue when considering the provision of breakout spaces, however, with careful space planning and the rearranging of existing office assets, breakout spaces can usually be incorporated into any workplace. There’s no need to think ‘grand gesture‘, a comfortable seating area can suffice but the scale is only determined by budget and available space: a new ‘room‘ can be created with glass partitioning, for example, filled with seating and kitchen facilities added or a mezzanine floor can be installed housing new refreshment and recreational facilities, for example.
Thinking out of the box, many forward-thinking businesses are now including more recreational areas as part of an office refurbishment or fit-out such as pool tables, an artificial grass mini-football pitch, booths for listening to music and many more ideas … along with the more traditional areas to sit, mix with colleagues and have some lunch!
So, what do we need?
As has been alluded to above, the sky’s the limit when it comes to offering breakout areas and associated facilities … the only hard fact is that all workplaces should have them!
At Paradigm Office Interiors, we offer a complete office fit-out and refurbishment service from initial design, space planning and establishing colour schemes … through to the undertaking of all building and fit-out works right down to furniture, wall & floor coverings and have many years experience in providing a complete range of office environments to bushiness from all commercial sectors so why not give us a call and see what we have to offer your business and workplace?