As someone who has managed a few offices in the entertainment industry, I noticed the breakroom was where all employees went to at some point throughout their day and the reasons varied. Some office workers enjoyed the opportunity to step away from their desk; others used it as their personal kitchen and stocked the fridge with snacks they preferred. I noticed many went to the breakroom for a little human interaction after spending the bulk of their day staring at a computer screen while others would seek it out empty for a little peace and quiet from the cubicle world.
Breakrooms have become modern day water coolers so why not use them as a way to motivate office workers and spread community spirit in the workplace?
Here are seven hacks office managers can implement to use the room everyone is already going to as a means of promoting positivity, communal company spirit and relaxation.
Trading book library
Create a trading book library in the breakroom. Have office workers bring books they’d like to share or the office can buy a few to start out with. The only rule is if you take a book, you replace it with one. Perhaps down the line, some may even choose to start a book club, meeting one day out of the month during lunch to discuss what they are reading.
On-going bingo-type game
As office manager, create an on-going bingo-type game that has to do with work activities that aren’t getting done as often as they should. For example, no one likes to clean the coffeemaker but perhaps if one were to get a square on a game board, they’d be willing to do it more often, especially if a full game card ensured they win a fun prize like a $15 gift card to a popular lunch or coffee spot. To set it up, create bingo cards for all employees to be able to participate. Place the cards in the breakroom with a brief list of rules: each participant will have a total of 25 squares. Ten of those squares will list unpopular tasks, such as cleaning the refrigerator, handing in an expense sheet on time or replacing the paper towel roll. Another 10 squares will list a number between 1 – 50 and each day, you will place a new number on the fridge in the break room. One square will be a free square, as a starting point for everyone. The last remaining four squares will have the word “nominated” in them, to allow employees to come to you to nominate another employee for doing something helpful, such as fixing a copy machine jam. Whoever gets a full card, wins the prize and then a new game begins.
Annual local community barometer chart
Using your role as office manager, embrace your local community by offering workers a way to give back. Design an “annual local community barometer chart” and place it above a locked box for donations in the breakroom. Using a white poster board, draw a barometer beginning with $0 and ending with $500. Fill it in monthly, showing where the donations are with a red arrow on the barometer. To select the charity for the year, do a blind drawing to choose three office workers, who will then suggest a charity. As a group, take a vote on which one of the three will be picked. Allow office workers to donate as they see fit throughout the year and then present the donation as a group to the charity of choice. Perhaps even have the company match the donation.
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Provide a meditation chair (which is really just a comfortable chair) where employees can do five-minute breathing exercises. Set it up in the corner of the breakroom along with a small table to hold eye masks, a set of noise-reduction headphones, and a connection hub to allow employees to plug in their phones to play soothing music or meditation guidance. Keep a small framed list on the table of free meditation apps one can download and a reminder to focus on breathing in and out while clearing one’s mind. It’s amazing how therapeutic five-minute meditation breaks can be, not to mention they can help workers gain momentum and energy to keep working throughout the sluggish parts of their day.
Employee bulletin board
Hang an employee bulletin board in the breakroom to allow office workers the opportunity to promote themselves or anything they’re interested in. Perhaps it’s a Girl Scout cookie order sheet, a sign up to create a company soccer team or maybe even an announcement someone is in a play! Whatever it is, this board can give employees an opportunity to highlight things outside of work while also getting to know their fellow coworkers better. Maybe have a spot where those who write poetry can submit their work and have it hung up for all to read on a monthly basis.
Create a suggestion box and place it in the breakroom, as a means for all employees to submit suggestions for the office, anonymously. Communication is key to a strong work environment and hearing feedback from office workers is important. As an office manager, you can use discretion on what tips to accept or reject but the important part is to hear what the workers have to say and allow them the chance to say it.
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Stock the breakroom with energy-driven snacks rather than items that make people sluggish. Instead of bags of chips, opt for trail mix. Instead of sugary cans of soda, go for sparkling water. Apples and cheese are known energy-inducers. Keep those on hand rather than heavy cookies and cakes. Keep the candy to a minimum while increasing options like protein bars and beef jerky.