Advice for Administrative Professionals
The Office Break Room
Your office breakroom is strategic to your business? Yes, that's right. The way you set up an office breakroom can actually have a material effect on your revenues and profitability.
When it's time to unwind, employees head to the break room, often the most undervalued, underappreciated room in the workplace.
But before you send your employees off to the broom closet for their morning coffee you might want to think twice, because the break room might be the most important room your company has.
Seriously? The break room is really that important? Absolutely, and here's why: The break room draws people out of their offices and cubicles, and provides a central gathering place for employees to interact with one another face to face.
Although employees don't always discuss work-related issues in the break room, the conversation usually come around to the workplace and even when it doesn't, employees are still building relationships. It's like a daily meeting that your employees are actually anxious to attend!
Unfortunately, many employers don't leverage their break room's potential simply because they fail to take a few common-sense steps to ensure an enjoyable atmosphere. After all, who wants to go to a disgusting break room? But with a little planning, your break room can be the talk of your company. Here are some questions to get you started:
How should I set up our break room?
Break room set-ups vary from company to company. However, there are a few essentials. First, you'll need a table or tables for people to sit around while they are eating. You'll also need a refrigerator, a sink, a microwave, and basic kitchen supplies like paper towels and dishwashing soap. Beyond that, the sky's the limit. Some break rooms contain lounge furniture, but that decision is entirely up to you. The key is to create an environment that is comfortable and conducive for conversation.
Who cleans the break room?
In a word - everyone. Somehow you need to make it clear that people are responsible for cleaning up their own messes, including the removal of food items from the fridge. Humorous, concise signage helps, but ultimately people will have to hold each other accountable for keeping the break room neat and tidy. Even so, plan on making the break room a scheduled stop for the maintenance crew.
Who pays for coffee - the employer or the employees?
There are two schools of thought on this one. Some employers happily provide coffee for their employees as a gesture of goodwill. Others feel that employees should either pay a nominal fee for a cup of coffee or come up with their own system. Again, the decision is up to you. But whatever your decision, be sure to factor in how it will be received by your employees. You may find that a can of coffee is a small price to pay for the benefits of the break room?
Who is allowed in the break room?
Obviously all employees and staff should be allowed to use the break room during scheduled breaks. It wouldn't kill you to spend some time in there, too, especially if you are looking for a way to bond with your staff. Clients, however, are strictly a no-no. Remember: The break room is a place for employees to get away from customers, not eat with them.
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