With office workers spending more hours at work and putting in more effort, the office space starts to work overtime too. The modern office is making more space for collaboration and socialisation, including relaxation areas.
Office designers have researched the benefits of providing a special area in the office for relaxing and socialising, separate from work responsibilities. Does your office have a designated casual or relaxation area? Sometimes called ‘break rooms’, these areas were thought to distract employees from their work, but they have proven to be rather beneficial for a business.
How can a relaxation area benefit a business?
Taking several short breaks at work in between tasks has shown to be more effective for refreshing and restoring the mind and body than longer, fewer breaks. With a break room, this practice becomes more feasible, as office workers can quickly take a few minutes of relaxation without even leaving the office building. For smaller offices, a relaxation area could also double as a lunch room or eating area in lieu of an office cafeteria, which further saves time wasted on lunch breaks.
It is important for employees to be able to draw a line between work time and break time. An area at the workplace that is specifically designated for relaxation and socialising can help strengthen that invisible line and enhance employees’ work productivity and performance. This, in turn, helps to reduce stress related issues including burnout, happiness and various health issues.
Social interaction at work was another thing that was frowned upon as unproductive and even inappropriate. Humans are, by nature, social creatures, and encouraging social engagement can increase mood and productivity at work.
Features of a good office relaxation area
There is no set formula for a relaxation area at the office – it can be cosy and creative or neat and minimalist, whichever style works best for your office and employees. That said, there are some features that seem to work towards a more relaxing and enjoyable space.
An important part of feeling relaxed in any context is feeling comfortable. In an office, an employee is sitting rigid at a desk for most of the day, which can put a strain on the body. Providing different seating options will help employees find the right level of relaxation in the relaxation area Choose a few comfortable cushioned couches or even beanbags and combine into the mix a few hard-backed chairs or barstools.
Brainstorming board or table
Keeping work-related conversation or ‘homework’ out of the relaxation area is important in order to preserve the purpose of the area. However, as many successful companies will testify, some of the greatest ideas are created in the cafeteria or break room. Social interaction often stimulates creativity, and conversation and collaboration helps fresh ideas come to the fore. It is best to keep a way of recording these “lightbulb moments” at hand. Popular favourites include blackboard paint on the wall for chalking out ideas, or a simple whiteboard or noticeboard. These are also great for jotting down notices or leaving an inspiring message for colleagues.
Colour and lighting
Light blues and greens promote relaxation, calm and harmony, while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Lighter colours can be more calming as well as creating a sense of spaciousness and openness. Windows and natural light help restore physical energy. Keep the relaxation area brightly lit and airy.
Pot plants, artwork and decorations
Potted plants provide fresh, healthy air and create a natural, earthy atmosphere. Decorations and artwork can invigorate the senses and relax the mind. Inspiring visual stimulus will stimulate creativity and motivation, letting employees return to their desk after a relaxation break full of energy and inspiration.
Games and entertainment
Games are a great way to stimulate brain activity while reducing stress and anxiety. Table football, table tennis, darts and pool are common favourites, but including more cognitive-based games like chess works well too. Games are useful in encouraging teamwork and collaboration, and help steer conversations away from work. A television or other form of entertainment is great for relaxing but can become too distracting or antisocial.
Food and drink
For larger offices, combining the relaxation room with a cafeteria saves space, as employees socialise and relax during their lunch breaks. If this is unfeasible for your office, including a small coffee machine and water fountain will be sure to suffice.
Give employees a treat and your business a boost by promoting healthy relaxation at the office!