The office breakroom isn't just a place to grab a cup of coffee or store meals; it's likely the backdrop of most employee conversations that are unrelated to work. As a result, the environment you create in your office breakroom has significant impact on whether employees embrace and believe in the company culture that leaders aspire to cultivate.
Here are five ways that you can transform your company's culture from an abstract concept into a daily experience by strategically designing your breakroom.
1. Make Your Work Kitchen Feel Like Home
Furnish your breakroom with the elements that make a home kitchen a popular gathering place. Consider including mounted speakers and pleasing music; modern, clean appliances; dishes and silverware; and warm, natural light. Have coffee varieties and favorites on-hand. If many of your employees are millennials, this sense of familiarity can have additional benefits in creativity and productivity. The majority of millennials who responded to the Staples 2016 Workplace Index study said they feel most inspired when they work at home.
2. Furnish for the Feel of a "Flat" Organization
As Harvard Business Review explains, an innovative company culture is a product of the behaviors embraced throughout the organization — including the willingness of leaders to have consistent and open interactions with employees. Your breakroom can reduce the sense of organizational hierarchy that prevents employees at different levels from interacting. Including amenities like televisions, game tables and video game systems helps foster interaction among staff who might not otherwise come into contact. The breakroom can become a place for your workforce to connect around common interests, such as viewing sports or cultural events.
3. Support Workplace Wellness
You can tell employees your culture is committed to work/life balance, preventative health and the mind–body connection — and then you can show them through the breakroom setting you create. Stock your space with fruits and vegetables, fresh juices and smoothies, and healthy snack options employees can munch on throughout the day to demonstrate that wellness is part of your company culture. Nearly half of all millennials and Gen X-ers in the 2016 Staples Workplace Index study said they prioritize healthy snacks in the breakroom when it comes to wellness; however, only 15 percent of those surveyed said their companies offer healthy snacks.
4. Broadcast Your Brand
Integrate the important elements of your brand identity and company culture into your breakroom with strategic furnishings. If your culture embodies creativity, for example, hammock seating or bean bag chairs can transform a stale office breakroom into a whimsical space. If your culture focuses on an active lifestyle, on the other hand, you can add high-top tables that encourage employees to stand instead of sit, or core stability balls at tables in place of traditional seats. Tailor breakroom furnishings to your brand to develop a culture that your team can live.
5. Give Employees the Space They Want
The Los Angeles Times reports that employees who perceive a breakroom as a pleasing environment are more likely to want to stay in the office for snacks and lunches. Before you assume what employees want, conduct an internal study to note how much time employees spend at their desks and in similar office spaces. Then, ask what features they'd love to have in a breakroom to ensure employees have a space they'll appreciate, use and embrace. According to the Staples 2016 Workplace Index study, 83 percent of employees say that a well-stocked breakroom results in happier employees, while 53 percent say that a well-stocked breakroom results in more productive employees.