The ubiquitous office breakroom serves a wide variety of purposes. It’s where employees go, obviously, to take a break from work, but it’s so much more. The breakroom is a place for nourishment, socializing, a mid-morning or mid-afternoon mini-renewal, and even a spot to temporarily hide out when stress or emotions run high. It may seem like a small detail, given the complexities of managing a practice, but having a nice breakroom for employees is more important than you might think. A dark, dingy, poorly stocked room says, “Get back to work.” A pleasant space says, “We want this to be a good place for you to work.”
When you finish reading this post, walk over to your breakroom and try to imagine you’ve never seen it before. Give it a good, long, objective look. Unless your reaction is “Wow!” consider the following ways in which you might spiff the space up a bit:
- Purging cabinets and drawers of “junk” and re-organizing storage spaces
- De-cluttering countertops and tables of old magazines and newspapers
- A thorough cleaning, top to bottom, including having the carpet shampooed
- New blinds or curtains for the windows
- A fresh coat of paint
- New or refurbished cabinets
- New appliances: fridge, microwave, coffee maker
- A new table and chair set
Your breakroom probably won’t need all of these items attended to, but spend a few dollars on what will make the biggest difference. Have the work done secretly over a weekend as a way to surprise and delight your staff on an otherwise ordinary Monday morning.
Stock your breakroom (at no cost to employees) with the basics including tea and coffee, sweeteners, creamers and water. In the coffee department, the newish Keurig machines that make one fresh cup at a time have become very popular. The little K-Cups they use can make coffee, tea, hot cocoa and even hot apple cider.
If you tend to host a lot of potlucks or birthday lunches in the practice, consider having a dishwasher installed so that after-lunch cleanup isn’t a burden. Having a dishwasher also makes it more practical to stock the breakroom with real coffee mugs, dishes and glassware, making the purchase of many disposable items unnecessary.
The sign that reads, “Your mother doesn’t work here so please clean up your mess,” must hang in one out of every two breakrooms across the country. Set up whatever system works for your unique practice to keep the breakroom clean and tidy. No one should be expected to scrub floors or wash down walls, but having staffers share the responsibility for light-duty cleanup and keeping the space tidy is a reasonable request.
We hope you’re inspired to make your office breakroom one that your staff will love. Don’t worry about making it so nice that they’ll linger too long. You already know that everyone in the office understands their responsibilities, takes their work seriously and won’t take undue advantage of having a lovely place for their brief daily respites.