Employees are always stressed; it doesn’t matter whether things are going well within their workplace or not. However, it’s a safe bet to say that employees having trouble in their workplace are realistically more stressed than others. In 2021, employees around the US reported stress levels of 4.9 out of 5, with 5 being the highest amount of stress possible, which is, unfortunately, 0.1 higher than 2020’s 4.8 reported average. This goes to show that even with a global pandemic going on, workplace stress levels have not lowered; they’ve risen. Though there are many ways an employer can help relieve some of this stress from their employees during work hours, such as by having more one-on-one check-ins or lighter workloads, etcetera. One way that’s often overlooked is the design of the break room.
The break room is where employees can relax and take a quick breather from work. It should be designed to encourage employees to want to spend time there and not feel like they’re just wasting time. Here are a few tips on how to design a break room with employee relaxation in mind:
- Incorporate comfortable seating: This one is a no-brainer. If you want your employees to spend time in the break room, then you need to provide comfortable seating. Get rid of plastic chairs or stools and opt for more comfortable options like sofas or lounge chairs.
- Add some greenery: Studies have shown that being around plants can help reduce stress levels. So, consider adding potted plants or an indoor herb garden to the break room. Not only will it look nice, but it can also help employees feel more relaxed.
- Create a cozy atmosphere: Make the break room feel like a place where employees can truly relax by adding some cozy touches. This can be anything from blankets and pillows to candles and soft lighting.
- Provide stress-relieving activities: Not everyone relaxes in the same way, so it’s important to provide a variety of activities in the break room that can help employees de-stress. This could include coloring books, puzzles, or even a TV for watching shows or movies.
- Keep the space clean and organized: A cluttered and messy break room will only add to employee stress levels. So, make sure to keep the area clean and organized. This includes putting away any food or drinks left out and ensuring the furniture is in its proper place.
- Game Tables and Other Fun Activities and Décor: Adding some fun to the break room can help keep employees’ minds off work. Consider adding game tables, dart boards, or even some fun wall art.
- Adaptable and Socially Distanced Spaces: With the pandemic still going on, it’s important to design the break room in a way that allows for social distancing. This could mean having more than one break room, if possible, or just incorporating creative solutions like dividing the space with partitions.
- Encourage employee input: One of the best ways to ensure employees will want to spend time in the break room is to get their input on its design. This way, you can ensure the space meets their needs, and they’ll be more likely to use it.
Creating a relaxing and comfortable break room environment can go a long way in helping employees destress during work hours. Research has regularly shown that happy and relaxed employees are more productive, so it’s worth investing in a well-designed break room. For all the things that you should do when creating a good break room, there are a couple of things that you shouldn’t do. Here are a couple of design no-nos for break rooms:
- Don’t make it too small: A cramped and crowded break room will only increase employees’ stress levels. Make sure the space is big enough so employees can move around comfortably and not feel like they’re on top of each other.
- Avoid bright colors and loud noises: When it comes to relaxation, less is more. Bright colors and loud noises will only stimulate the senses and make it harder for employees to relax. Stick to muted colors and keep the noise level down by avoiding TVs or other loud electronics in the space.
- Don’t forget about ventilation: The last thing you want is for the break room to feel stuffy and claustrophobic. Ensure the space is well-ventilated so that employees can breathe easily and not feel like they’re in a sauna.
- Keep the food options healthy: Regarding employee productivity, what they eat matters. So, ensure the break room has healthy food options instead of just junk food. This will help keep energy levels up and avoid any mid-day crashes.
- Avoid strong smells: Another way to keep the break room from feeling stuffy is to avoid strong smells. This means no scented candles or air fresheners that could trigger headaches or nausea.
Some of the best break rooms are designed with employee relaxation in mind. By following these tips, you can create a space that employees will want to spend time in, and that will help them destress during work hours.