‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Phil Green, CBS Managing Director