In recent years, we’ve been witnessing a trend of employees spending less time in front of their screens, and spending most of their working hours in innovative spaces that boost creativity. These breakout zones are definitely becoming new staff rooms, however, they are much more than that – they are workplace zones where employees can chill out, read emails, or attend informal meetings. Considering the informal and relaxing nature of these areas, the décor and design play an important role in their planning. Here are a few takes on creating amazing office chillout zones.
Chillout zone defined
A chillout or breakout zone is an area separated from the general office floor, designed specifically to provide employees with a change of scene and an alternative space for both work and rest. Making regular breaks from the computer screen is important both for health and fatigue, and there’s no better place to make that break than an expertly designed chillout zone. There, your staff can literally chill out on comfortable seating such as recliners, lounges, or bean bags, to have a game of 8 ball, or even pour themselves a glass of beer from the mini bar tap, once the midday rush has ended.
Atmosphere and layout
While we can all drool at the breakout zones seen in some of the top line Silicon Valley companies, an office breakout zone doesn’t need to be extravagant, just cosy and engaging. If your current office is small, for example, if you’re running a startup, you can make a separate chillout area by simply lifting a few screens. A touch of hospitality such as a tea station, vending machine, or seats positioned in a well-lit conversation circle can help you achieve the togetherness mood you’re looking for.
Experiment with furniture
The world of interior design has become diversely experimental in the last few years, with very few prominent names missing to add a unique touch to new collections. While soft seating is mandatory, and beanbags already made an iconic part of the breakout room culture, in warmer climates such as Australian, it’s not uncommon to find chillout zones on the outside, whether on a raised deck or a patio in the office backyard. For example, new outdoor furniture collections in Sydney propose bringing the relaxed style of coastal living into your outdoor chillout zone with teak-framed sofas and armchairs that combine softer feel with traditional modern clean lines.
Inspiration through relaxation
You need to present your breakout area as a place where workers can unwind and escape the daily routine of their job and structured organization of the office. This goal should reflect in the design of the space, with comfortable carpets and seating followed by a warm and inviting colour scheme. However, to some companies creating inspiring environments is just as important as designing a comfy break room. An abundance of natural light, inspiring images of outlandish or remote landscapes, and indoor plants can prove stimulating to your employees, filling them with motivation and energy to use the rest of the day.
Cooperation and collaboration
By encouraging your teams to use breakout zones for informal meetings, you are relieving the formal meeting spaces from multiple bookings at the same time, as well as encouraging different teams to work together towards solutions. Consider installing whiteboards or innovative chalk-friendly walls to strike the sparks of creativity. Lay out a few functional tables and chairs, but make sure they are less formal and corporate than in your main meeting room. Such relaxed but creative touches will allow your employees to take part in brainstorming sessions free of rigid formalities.
Stay open to ideas of others
While you might have a whole roster of fantastic ideas of your own, it’s important to listen to the opinions of those who will be using the space the most – your staff. Consider sending a survey to all staff, asking them how they see the new space, what they expect from it, and how they think it will impact their productivity, health, etc.
The essence of a breakout zone is the atmosphere that is different from your formal business interior. Apart from blowing off steam, such an informal space is perfect for casual meetings and stress-free brainstorming sessions, where the off-beat nature of the room, or even outdoor area, helps boost the participants’ creativity.
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