Breakout areas are a growing office trend over the years as workplaces push for more open-plan office dynamics and focus more on employee wellbeing. The initial idea of a breakout area was to provide more communal settings to encourage team-building, to improve group work and to utilise workspace more efficiently. Now in a post-COVID world, breakout areas are providing benefits we’ve never really thought of before.
Why breakout areas are a good idea
- It’s a brilliant way to utilise space in the workplace
- They encourage movability and a chance for employees to mix their day up
- A change of scenery and a more relaxed setting can often spark ideas and motivate staff
- It brings a social atmosphere and allows for more bonding opportunities
- Having a timeout area can help with stress levels and staff wellbeing
Breakout areas adapted for social distancing
As with any environment or office, to adapt to a COVID-19 world, you need to take precautions. Breakout areas can be a useful way to help with social distancing in the workplace.
- Whilst they can be a good way to break up groups in the office, it will be useful to have signs to help guide staff – this will make it a lot clearer and easier
- Avoid congregation, have a calendar/diary/timetable set up to book in slots for employees to alternate
- Depending on the space in your breakout area, provide some comfy seating or sofas to provide a calmer setting whilst making sure staff are sat far apart. Provide limits e.g. only one or two people on a sofa at any one time
- Make sure hand sanitiser, masks and antibacterial wipes are placed on breakout tables
- Consider placing more breakout tables to avoid people having to lean over or come into contact with others
- If your breakout area is in a very confined space, make restrictions quirky – try adding big teddy bears on seats that are off limits
- Try to avoid face-to-face setups, if this is challenging, make sure they are well spaced out or place dividers and protective screens in between
Breakout area design ideas
Making a breakout area bold and bright can do wonders for staff wellbeing and for creativity. When it comes to employees taking some time to reflect on projects or ideas, breakout areas can be perfect settings to ignite ideas or boost those afternoon slumps.
2. Carpeted open-plan spaces
Use carpet tiles to signify breakout areas as a cool, simple way to organise office layouts.
3. Make a mood board corner
One trend for offices is installing feature walls, displaying inspiring and creative features from quotes, art to quirky themes. This can be an inexpensive way to spruce up a breakout area and a good idea could be to make a mood board corner where employees are encouraged to share ideas, visuals, cutouts etc.
4. Go hygge
You may want to provide a cosy, more comfortable area for your staff. Opt for quirky bookshelves, provide niche reading materials with neat cushions and rugs. The next big idea could come from the ten-minute break one employee had, cosying up with an industry magazine.
5. Afternoon tea breakout
Breakout areas near kitchen units or small tea and coffee-making corners can be a good idea and provide relaxing, cosy settings for staff.
Whether you’re looking for ways to modify your breakout areas or are considering introducing them to your office, always be vigilant and plan for social distancing and hygiene. Whilst one day we may be looking far back on COVID-19 world, it can still be useful to maintain these practices and uplifting to implement new design ideas.