Through our 30+ years experience in the construction industry and expertise in contemporary office fit outs in Melbourne, we’ve become all too familiar with the tendency of clients to compromise on breakout spaces during the process of fit out planning.
Sure, breakout areas aren’t busy hubs of activity, constantly productive and perpetually in use, but that’s kind of the point.
You see, breakout spaces are more than just a trendy way to spend extra money. In 2023 and beyond, breakout spaces are a must-have for any interior office fitout – and here’s why.
Why are breakout spaces so important?
Stress is a killer. It’s a killer of health, a killer of drive, a killer of revenue. Stress starts by taking quality of life and, if unchecked, it can actually end up taking lives.
During their biological prime, your employees spend well over half of their waking weekday hours in your service, and the environment you create can make or break their potential to produce and prosper.
It sounds a little ‘extra’ but furnished with research and statistics around workplace stress and its mental and physical health implications, it’s a fact.
Money cannot buy natural good health and quality of life, so you have a human responsibility not to rob your employees of these bounties through the procedure you enforce or the environment you create.
The good news is, you can both boost and preserve worker wellbeing and quality of life by including innovative, invigorating break-out spaces in your office design!
5 Benefits of office breakout areas
1. The human connection
Traditionally, commercial interior design has sought to maximise efficiency and productivity through an almost unnatural focus on closed plan layouts, privacy, autonomy and a lack of distraction that amounts to sterility.
The fact is, a growing body of research, much of which has been initiated in light of the revolutionary shift to hybrid and remote working solutions, strongly indicates that overtly social, human connections at work are critical to physical health and cognitive functioning.
Since unhealthy, mentally sluggish workers are detrimental to your bottom line, it makes sense to incorporate zones where meaningful, quality social interactions are encouraged, and where colleagues who may not otherwise communicate at work can start to collaborate, innovate and create in a relaxed atmosphere, without management breathing down their necks.
2. The welcome retreat
Even the most contemporary workplaces can be loud and relentless – phones, fingers on keyboards, voices, stress.
It’s distracting, and it can quickly become too much, especially when one is feeling anxious or sensitive, but breakout areas offer a welcome retreat from distraction, and an island of peace in a raging sea of work, work, work.
By including breakout areas in your office fit out, you facilitate worker focus and stress management, and you balance the scales by offering respite from the pressure generated in the workplace.
3. The spark of novelty
You’re probably already familiar with the notion that a change of scenery can boost your mood, your creativity, and your ability to innovate. Did you realise, though, that this is actually a well researched fact?
Variety is the spice of life, we crave it, we long for it, and we function better with a regular dose of it. A key consideration during any office fit out should be the creation of diverse environments where you’re workers can find that spice throughout the day.
A selection of colourful, textural, rich and relaxing spaces where workers can go for a change of scenery will help you to attract and retain top talent, while dramatically boosting the motivation, creativity, innovation and general happiness of your workers.
4. The value of movement
Likewise, studies show that regular physical activity at work can improve psycho-physical performance, social relationships and work performance, reducing absenteeism and work related injuries in the process.
So, why not use interior design to promote physical activity throughout the day?
Whether it be encouraging workers to move between their desks and one or more breakout spaces, or including breakout zones that feature calming meditative exercises like tending to plants, combing through a sand-garden, playing ping-pong, or chalking out a mind map on a write-able wall with a colleague.
5. The fruits of worker wellbeing
Studies also indicate that there is a direct correlation between worker wellbeing/job satisfaction and work performance, and that using office fitouts, breakout spaces, and the other tools at your disposal to promote worker health can drive significant economic growth.
Happy, stress free workers think better, work harder, longer and with better focus. They interact better, innovate better and create more readily. Contented workers are more productive, and more likely to remain dedicated and loyal to your organisation.
5 Features for effective breakout spaces
1. Well defined and distinct from regular workspaces
Office interior design really should be a creative process that aims to encourage diverse high quality experiences at work.
For a breakout space to serve the purpose of improving wellness and job satisfaction, it needs to provide that novel contrast to the more mundane desk-bound environment where employees get down to the daily grind.
So, where desks and desk chairs are angular, hard, sharp-cornered and upright, these spaces should be enveloping, cushioned, reclining and curved.
They should, ideally, be either well removed or completely separate from the regular workplace, so that workers feel the sense of changing scenery, changing textures, changing sound levels, changing light and changing atmosphere.
2. Both solitary and collaborative breakout options
Whether you have a large space broken up into several breakout zones, or numerous breakout zones dispersed throughout the building, it’s important to have more than one option, to avoid overcrowding and to offer different experiences that suit different states of mind and purpose.
For example, a few team members may wish to retreat to a breakout lounge to bounce ideas, collaborate, make a noise and drum up creative inspiration, while a single worker may feel overwhelmed by the noise and stress of a busy morning, and retreat to a quiet booth or a nature zone to smell the indoor plants, feel the silence and reconnect with nature on an easy chair overlooking the courtyard.
Situations will vary, so offering diverse breakout options will help you ensure that all needs are met.
3. Tech integrated, with access to powerpoints, wifi and collaboration technology
While we highly recommend including one or two tech-detox areas in your commercial fitout, it’s important that you offer adequate power outlets and access points throughout most of your breakout infrastructure.
Workers who need a change of scenery to inspire creativity or problem solving will appreciate the option to get to work on the spot once the ideas start flowing.
A worker with a tight neck and sore back might benefit from time spent lounging on the sofa or beanbag, but why not offer the option to continue working while they do so? Some workers may wish to collaborate with remote colleagues away from the bustle of the office, so be sure to include conferencing tools and other tech integrations for collaboration into at least a few of your breakout zones.
4. Elements of nature and tactile surfaces
In our experience as office fit out experts in Melbourne, we’ve seen countless workplaces transformed (and even more workers uplifted) through the use of nature-focused breakout spaces.
We’re not asking you to install hydroponics and skylights and maintain a full-scale botanical garden, but introducing natural fabrics and materials, and incorporating tactile elements of nature – like warm sunlight, cool breeze, fresh air, running water and big, green leaves – are a good place to start.
Human beings need nature, it refreshes us, soothes out hearts, helps us unwind and makes us more creative. Even if you don’t have the option of outdoor breakout zones immersed in nature, you can bring the outdoors in by including acoustically soothing water features, indoor plants, ferns and trees, and even the effects of dappled shade and sunlight.
5. Access to food and refreshment
When we think of relaxing and time off, delicious food and drink are often an essential part of the picture. The same goes for office breakout spaces.
Whether a breakout zone is dedicated to quiet, solitary contemplation or huddled collaboration, access to vending machines and refreshments like coffee, tea, muffins, fruits, sandwiches, doughnuts, smoothies and snacks is a great way to draw people in, make them feel at home and encourage interpersonal bonding.
Furthermore, breakout spaces are often used for quick meetings with clients and employees from other departments, and what better way to break the ice than with a tasty espresso and a croissant.
Ready to create invigorating breakout spaces where your people can unwind, get inspired and thrive?
Whether you’re relocating, refitting or redesigning your workplace, let the experts at Bowen Interiors assist you and your employees by including a range of diverse, uplifting breakout areas – because happy workers really are productive workers.
Contact us today to discuss your office fit out needs. We’re here to help your team collaborate, create and innovate!
Learn more about how we’ve helped Melbourne businesses create thriving workplaces.