Across the country and especially in Chicago, an increasing number of businesses are opting for an office redesign that makes ample use of what are called “breakout spaces”. Below, we highlight what this term refers to, and then explore why it may be a smart, progressive choice for your office redesign needs.
What are Breakout Spaces?
Essentially, breakout spaces are designated areas that invite employees – and even customers and other visitors for that matter – to either relax and re-charge their batteries, or connect informally in order to brainstorm solutions, discuss issues, and so on.
In this sense, breakout spaces are widely viewed as the mid-way point between traditional “cubicle farms” and more leading-edge open office plans; the latter of which some employers and employees can find a bit too unstructured, or simply not suitable for their workforce management needs.
Creating Breakout Spaces
Businesses can customize breakout spaces to reflect the needs, preferences and styles of their employees, as well as the look and feel of their brand and image. For example, insurance companies and law firms can lean more towards the conservative side, while marketing agencies can literally turn their breakout spaces into dynamic, 3-dimensional expressions of their creative spirit.
What’s more, breakout spaces can (and should) be supported by functional elements that make collaborating easier and more effective, such as ample deployment of whiteboards, plenty of outlets and USB ports for powering laptops, tablets and smartphones, fast and secure WiFi, and smart use of artificial and natural light. HVAC systems should also re-configured (if necessary) to ensure that breakout spaces don’t become saunas or freezers, and meeting-friendly snacks and beverages are also necessary and appreciated.
As for where breakout spaces should exist in an overall office layout – this, too, depends on the needs of each business. Often, they’re found near elevators, stairs or lunchrooms, so as to spark “informal collisions” between cross-functioning groups.
Should Your Office Design Include Breakout Spaces?
While this question should only be answered on a business-by-business basis, generally speaking breakout spaces may be viable for your office design if:
- You identify “dead spaces” in your current environment, which are under or un-utilized areas that would be ideal if used for breakouts.
- You want to promote more collaboration, but (as noted above) you aren’t interested in moving to a full open office plan.
- You find that employees are already creating their own de facto breakout spaces in reception areas, hallways, or even in the parking lot when weather permits. Giving these employees a real, designated breakout space would be an instant win for everyone.
- You want to clearly demonstrate that you care about your employees’ health and wellness, since they can use a breakout space to “get off the grid” throughout the day and de-stress. Energized employees aren’t just happier and healthier, but they’re more productive and make fewer errors, too.
To learn more about whether breakout spaces should be a core feature of your progressive office redesign, contact the interior solutions specialists at Key Interiors today. Your consultation with us is free.