One of the best ways to improve productivity and collaboration is to create spaces that allow creative collisions. And with the trend towards breakout zones in today’s offices, more of us are collaborating than ever before.
June 29th, 2017
There’s no doubt that our environments impact how we feel – how relaxed, how motivated and how happy: All essential factors when it comes to performing at work. However, it’s not just the overall interior that can affect our mood and behaviour – it’s the spaces within a space – and with more ABW offices emerging in today’s workplaces, getting these smaller spaces right is just as crucial as the big picture.
The ‘breakout zone’ is one of these spaces. But first of all, for the uninitiated, what is a breakout zone? It is basically an area, any area, where employees can go to get away from their computers and workstations. One of its functions is to give staff a comfortable space in which to relax and take a break from work, whilst its other main purpose is to provide a casual setting for collaborations with colleagues and sometimes even clients. A breakout zone typically features more comfortable (and in many cases more colourful) seating than a formal boardroom. And some companies, such as Google or Amazon, have taken the breakout zone to a whole new level with quirky themes and play equipment!
From the very simple to the more elaborate though, one thing remains the same; these breakout areas make employees feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed than stiff, formal boardrooms. And when employees feel relaxed, like they are part of a conversation rather than a meeting, they are much more likely to speak up and contribute their opinions. There’s nothing better than a brainstorming session to get your own creative juices flowing as well as build upon one another’s innovations and ideas.
By their very nature, these informal areas also encourage more impromptu get- togethers. Rather than having to book the boardroom for an ‘official meeting’, teams can simply jump together for a quick catch-up or pooling of ideas. Thus, if you don’t have a breakout zone in your office, then you might just be missing a trick when it comes to getting the best out of your employees.
The essential basic components for a breakout zone are some comfy, ergonomic chairs and a table so that people can rest their coffees or take notes. If you don’t have a separate room available then you might want to consider using a couple of room dividers or just incorporate it as an open-plan zone in a corner of your office.
When it comes to seating, it’s a good idea to have a mix of styles so the space is versatile as well as comfy – look at tub chairs and sofas, multi-functional chairs or modular systems that allow for flexible configurations. A warm or bright colour scheme is also useful for creating a more relaxed, intimate setting than traditional boardrooms.
One company that knows all about breakout zones and has the perfect furniture for creating them is Krost. The brand has been selling office furniture since the 1930s and now offers a full turnkey, commercial furniture service. It has spent many years perfecting the ergonomics, comfort and flexibility of its products and its current collection offers a number of designs that would work perfectly within a breakout zone.
First of all there are its Hush lounges – a seating range with high, padded sides that shield users from the typical noise and distraction of open-plan offices. In fact, if you place two lounges directly opposite one another this creates a ‘room within a room’, which is ideal for small groups of employees looking to have informal yet focussed meetings. Available in bright red or charcoal, the lounges are upholstered in stylish woollen cashmere, with easily removable cushions for maximum comfort.
Another great inclusion would be the company’s Rocco chair. Heavy-duty moulded foam ensures employees feel instantly relaxed whilst the mix of sophistication, edginess and four colourways creates a look that is simultaneously cool and corporate – the perfect combination for a breakout zone.
Two other collections worth mentioning here are Gogo and Jam. The former is a range of simple yet playful circular seats that can double as coffee tables and be easily arranged into a number of configurations depending on the gathering. With three contemporary colour options and wool fabric upholstery, they also have both the fun and comfort factor required for breakout areas.
Jam on the other hand is a minimalist bench-style table that lends itself beautifully to impromptu meetings with room for people on both sides. Available in a wide range of melamine or textured melamine finishes, it can either be stood around or paired with stools – such as those from Krost’s Zorro range.
Breakout zones don’t need to be elaborate; essentially they just have to offer a different atmosphere from the rest of the workplace and encourage people to engage in casual conversations. The more that colleagues are inspired to collaborate and share their knowledge and ideas, the better. What’s more, in such a technology-laden era, it’s better for employees’ health and happiness to get away from their screens on a regular basis. So if you don’t have a breakout zone in your office, maybe it’s time to start clearing out a small space for one and watch as your staff come together more often.
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