‘Breakout area’ is a fairly new term that encompasses those areas around an office used for informal internal meetings and the traditional staffroom. Often these are rather sad, overlooked areas fitted out with a mismatch of furniture and basic facilities.
Typically, when a company decides to refresh their office space, the priorities are the following:
- Client-facing areas: reception, entrance areas, meeting rooms, boardrooms, MD’s office and toilet facilities
- Workspace: private offices, shared offices and open plan areas
- Support spaces: storage and filing, mailrooms, print and copy areas, kitchen and staffroom
However, increasingly organisations understand the benefits of well-designed office spaces for retaining employees and increasing productivity, and how areas such as the teapoints or breakout space can have a beneficial impact on staff and the company as a whole.
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Breakout Areas And Your Employer Brand
While the public-facing areas of a company are important, the areas within an office that are hidden away are just as important to your employees. In fact, often those breakout spaces are actually very public. Many of us have insider knowledge of the staff facilities at companies like Google and Facebook as they’re widely used to promote their employer brand.
Knowing that these organisations value their employees to the extent that they provide really attractive and fun areas for both work and play, ensures a continuous pipeline of top talent queuing up to work for these tech giants.
It also enhances their overall value proposition, the quality or USP that attracts clients to a business. Given the choice we want to do business with companies that look after their staff, and therefore breakout spaces are often used as a barometer of how much a company values their employees. If you read articles about ‘cool office spaces’ often it’s the breakout areas that are featured in these, not the conventional workspaces.
Changing Working Patterns
This begs the questions ‘what is a conventional workspace?’ because breakout spaces are as much to do with work, as they are to do with play. First off we’re all increasingly connected and mobile, meaning we can work just as well (if not better) in a quiet breakout space, as we could in a noisy open plan office.
Breakout areas also provide somewhere for colleagues to hold informal meetings, allowing them to collaborate better and be more spontaneous, without having to book a meeting room and put a date in the diary. This has obvious benefits for productivity because it gives employees the flexibility to manage their own time more efficiently, and provides them with areas where they can focus on specific projects undisturbed.
Even having a ping-pong or pool table can be conducive to work, giving employees an opportunity to take a break and de-stress, as well as building stronger relationships with co-workers in the process. We all understand the value of team-building activities that often involve a day away from the office. Imagine what you could be doing for your staff relationships and team morale if employees were regularly sharing a game of pool – you could even hold a Friday games session!
We’ve already highlighted how your breakout spaces can be a great asset when it comes to attracting potential employees, conversely they can also help you retain your top talent. People choose to work for companies not just because of the salary they offer, or the opportunities for career progression, but also because of company culture.
Your breakout areas are key areas where you can demonstrate your company culture in a practical way. This could be by encouraging staff to take regular breaks from a stressful role, and showing how you value your employees’ wellbeing with a relaxing area to escape to. Or perhaps your business is known for being a fun place to work and therefore a games room would make the perfect breakout area. Whatever you say about your company culture, your breakout areas are a good place to put this into practice.
So, if an office redesign is on the cards at your organisation, of course make sure that those areas your clients will see reflect your company brand, welcome them to your organisation and provide the right environment to do business in, but also consider those areas that are just for your employees. Make sure you’re sending the right messages to them too.
If you have any questions about how we can redesign your office space to include a teapoint or breakout area, call us on 01344 290 290.