Why Every Workplace Needs a Breakout Area (And How to Design One)

Modern office is much more than just a place of work. It’s also where we socialize, create and have fun. And it doesn’t only happen at our desks.  Which is why every office needs breakout areas to serve all different purposes in our everyday work routine.

office breakout area

Third place wanted

According to a famous sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in addition to the first place, being home, and the second place, being work, people desperately need a third place to fulfill their social needs. Spaces  to build our relations, exchange ideas and simply have a good time. Previously known as coffee shops and libraries, third places are now merging into our working worlds as well. As we spend more of our lives at work, our need for these third places are increasing and it's becoming a significant factor in the wellbeing of employees’. 

Nowadays, Oldenburg’s idea is not just a theory — recent studies confirm that as much as 59% of employees find breakout areas essential office facilities. No wonder that many world-renowned businesses like Google and Facebook offer third places like inhouse coffee shops and libraries to their employees. And they are not the only ones - many companies around the world are increasingly offering onsite gyms, game rooms, cafeterias and even cinemas — everything to keep their workers happy.

The belief that third places - or breakout areas - should be separate from the working environment has changed. Now, we see that these two areas of life can coexist, and the result is higher job satisfaction and overall wellness. So, if your office still lacks a breakout area, it’s high time to create one.

How to design breakout area in the office 

When designing a third place, you should first decide what purpose it will serve. If there are multiple purposes you’ll probably need multiple breakout areas. A quiet reading corner cannot be a game room at the same time. Maybe, your team isn’t even fond of games. So what exactly do they need? The best way to find out is to ask them — this is exactly what Hubble HQ did. They conducted an internal survey and found that a kitchen, onsite gym and an office bar with drinks and snacks are among the most wanted facilities. Other preferences included individual pods, nap rooms, private meeting rooms and a swimming pool. Based on that, Hubble made a selection of various breakout areas and incorporated them into the new office design. 

We've also done some research and combined the findings into a handy checklist - check it out

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Ideally, your office design should include the areas for both socializing and alone time. The main rule is to clearly isolate these zones from the rest of the workspace. It can be a separate room or a an area marked by room dividers. Nothing in there should resemble the typical office. Try using lounge chairs and sofas to create a cosy feel.

Furniture is not the only element to consider — lightning, aroma and acoustics also contribute to the overall atmosphere of your third place. Acoustics are particularly important for so-called productive breakout areas, if used for concentrated tasks, such as quiet breaks and reading.

Pod chairs by De Vorm in East Side co-working space, created by The Office Group.

Tip from De Vorm

Using sound-dampening materials can greatly improve the acoustics of your breakout areas. Consider PET Felt — a sustainable material known for its sound-absorbing properties. For instance, Pod chair will create a perfect shelter from noise and visual distractors.

Don’t limit yourself to the inside area only — an outdoor garden or a rooftop terrace can also be used to create the third place. Up to 86% of workers indicated the desire to work outside, so why not let them? This could have significant long term benefits — studies show that spending a part of the working day outdoors has a positive impact on employees’ concentration, creativity and problem-solving.

Wood Me chairs by De Vorm in office hall of Liander Duiven

Tip from De Vorm

You can compensate for the lack of an outdoor terrain by creating biophilic breakout areas inside. The use of natural materials in the third-place design, like wood, along with plants and other landscape elements is said to have a calming effect on people and reduce absenteeism at work.

4 great examples of office breakout areas

Now, let’s take a look at how different companies have incorporated these third-place ideas in their office design. Maybe, you will find some inspiration for designing your own breakout area.

1. Nike European HQ

Eat & Meet area at Nike Headquarters in Hilversum with LJ 3 bar stools from De Vorm

Eat & Meet area at Nike Headquarters resembles an urban cafe, with LJ 3 bar stools completing the look. Large shared tables and informal design encourage socialization during lunch breaks.


Nook lounge chairs by De Vorm in breakout area inside FULL NODE officeFULL NODE created a relaxing lounge corner where employees can read, exchange ideas or simply have a breakout from work. Nook lounge chairs add a cosy feeling to this space.

3. Liander

Green hall of Liander office in Duiven

Liander incorporated a green zone into their office. Spacious area, natural wall decor and wooden chairs complete the jungle look.

4. Tele 2

Pod chairs by De Vorm on different floors f Tele 2 office

Tele 2 offers privacy spots on every floor of their office in Oslo. Sound-dampening properties and the shielding form of the Pod chairs bring distractions to a minimum.

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