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Cleaning & Breakroom Supplies Buying Guide

Keeping employees safe, healthy and nourished makes good business sense. And choosing one location to serve as a hub for everything your employees need, from snacks and drinks to safety and cleaning supplies, won’t just give everyone easy access to the essentials, it will also foster community.

This guide provides information and insights to help you outfit the perfect breakroom and create a space that enhances morale, encourages collaboration and gives employees easy access to the items they need.

Why Do You Need a Breakroom?

Don’t get caught up in semantics — a breakroom doesn’t really have to be a room. It just needs to be a space where employees can gather, have or prepare lunch or a snack, and find essential items like the office first aid kit or supplies for cleaning their desks. The main focus of this area should be downtime. If you can, separate the breakroom from the work area as much as possible so workers on break don’t distract those who still have their noses to the grindstone.

Research shows that having a breakroom is an important factor in employee morale, workplace productivity and overall efficiency. Having a breakroom will help your business with:

  • Reduced out-of-the-office time: Employees are more likely to stay in the office — and, thus, be more productive — when there’s a coffeemaker available. Sure makes buying a Starbucks Verismo seem like a smart investment, right?
  • Improved morale and productivity: In a 2014 Staples survey, respondents indicated that regular breaks improve work and personal happiness (59 percent and 43 percent respectively). Add a well-stocked kitchen, and you could have a team of even more productive employees. So in addition to Keurig® K-Cup® beverages, you might want to also stock snacks and have a full-size or compact refrigerator available for employees to store their own eats and drinks.
  • Improved health: That same Staples survey reveals that employees are overwhelmingly looking for healthy snack options, such as nuts and granola bars (57 percent), compared with chips, cookies or candy (10 percent). Healthier foods means a healthier workplace, and that translates to healthier employees who stay awake and alert for longer periods of time — and don’t need to take as much time off.
  • Increased collaboration and community: Shared spaces like breakrooms provide a place for employees to build stronger bonds through informal socializing, and can often be the spark for ideas and collaboration that just doesn’t happen between cubes or while waiting for the elevator. It’s also a suitable place for an informal meeting over coffee and snacks —important food for thought.
  • Increased work happiness: The Staples survey also indicates that the key to workplace happiness may be as simple as stepping away for a break. Almost 60 percent of respondents reported that regular breaks at work would improve their work happiness. And a happier team often results in a more effective team.

As you can see, the benefits of a great breakroom far exceed the cost of outfitting even the most lavish area.

Design, Layout & Organization

Breakrooms need to be welcoming, but they also need to be practical so they can accommodate formal and informal gatherings, and store a variety of supplies (food and maintenance). Even in a cramped space, you need:

  • Storage: Provide ample storage, like cabinets, for cleaning supplies, dishware and food. Keep in mind that you will want to store these types of items separately. You’ll also need to offer counter space for preparing beverages and food.
  • Tables & Seating: These furnishings encourage people to sit and actually take a break, but they’re also conducive to meetings when no other conference room is available. Tables and chairs give employees a place to enjoy food and beverages and promote chatting and collaboration. Stools are a great option to provide space-saving seating for a small area.
  • Whiteboard & Accessories: A large whiteboard and dry-erase markers will encourage doodling and support impromptu meetings and brainstorming sessions. Be sure to reserve a part of the board for official messages since many employees will see this spot throughout the day.
  • Small Kitchen Appliances: Of course, you need a coffeemaker (a Keurig is nice and accommodates many preferences), along with the appropriate accoutrements. But also install a microwave and fridge. All these appliances come in a variety of sizes to fit any area.

To make your break area more inviting, include some art, accent lighting and maybe even a couch and side chairs if the space can comfortably accommodate them. And be sure to keep basic kitchen items likes utensils, coffee cups, paper towels, napkins, plates and cutlery on hand to lend to the homey atmosphere and make it easier for employees to “dine in.”

If you have the size, encourage more breakroom use by arranging your furniture in zones like these:

  • A kitchen area for food and drink storage and preparation.
  • A dining area for eating, drinking and collaborating.
  • A sitting area for relaxing or collaborating.

You can either use the kitchen area or a nearby closet for storing cleaning and paper supplies your workers will need. You can do the same for your first aid kit and medical supplies, or consider mounting it on the wall.

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