The Ever-Evolving Breakroom

From cafeteria-style tables to the watercooler and the ubiquitous coffeepot, the images that the word "breakroom" conjures up for workers can vary


From cafeteria-style tables to the watercooler and the ubiquitous coffeepot, the images that the word "breakroom" conjures up for workers can vary, and have evolved drastically over the last several decades—even the last several years. As companies become more invested in employee engagement, workplace culture and a number of health and wellness initiatives, the breakroom has gone from the forgotten room where coworkers nuke their unfortunate leftovers to a place where companies seek to foster collaboration, relaxation and inspiration.

"A well-designed and well-stocked breakroom can help employees recharge, refresh and be more productive," said Kerry Anne Carter, vice president, Staples. The topic of how cutting-edge companies provide places for their workers to recharge dominates discussions about today's offices, and companies are more and more interested in seeking out unique, innovative offerings to keep their workers happy and productive.

So what are the latest and greatest offerings in the evolution of the breakroom? Companies don't have to be Silicon Valley giants to spruce up their breakroom with these things:

Fresh food – We've all grabbed a candy bar from the vending machine—some days just call for that sugar rush. But your health and wellness are inextricably linked to your productivity, and having fresher, healthier alternatives on hand for workers is easier than ever. Services put a new twist on the old vending machine, offering salads, sandwiches and other healthy snacks and drinks in a fridge-sized kiosk. For added food safety and convenience, offer everything "grab-and-go" style individually wrapped so employees can get in and out quicly. 

Custom coffee – As a nation of avid coffee drinkers, most of whom average at least 3 cups a day, it just makes sense that how we get our beloved java would evolve right alongside where we drink that java. Cutting-edge brewer systems go beyond the usual coffee and make it easy to brew a coffeeshop-caliber cappuccino, latte or mocha in your breakroom. Considering the number of people who say they can't commute, hold a conversation or check their email without their coffee, this evolution isn't surprising!

Progressive design – Even with technology allowing for more flexibility in the workplace, people are spending more time in the office than ever, and your office design has an impact on workers. Holistic design, from the boardroom to the breakroom, is garnering more and more attention from design professionals and C-level executives looking to boost their culture and protect the investment they've made in their talent. Paying attention to the breakroom's design and potential as a space for dynamic, collaborative conversation and as a meaningful place to recharge is important. Just be sure to create distance wherever possible for less germ spreading and set some ground rules for number of occupants and the amount of time spent in the breakroom.