De Vorm for Office | Why Every Workplace Needs a Breakout Area
With people spending a third of their life in the office, it becomes 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 desk. Which is why every office needs breakout areas to serve all our purposes in our everyday work routine.
Third place wanted
According to 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 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.
Designing the office breakout area
When designing a third-place, first decide what purpose it will serve. If you have 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 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.
Tip from De Vorm
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 place surrounded by room dividers. Nothing in there should resemble the typical office. Try using lounge chairs or 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.
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.
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 resembles an urban cafe, with LJ 3 bar stools completing the look. Large shared tables and informal design encourage socialization during lunch breaks.
2. FULL NODE
FULL 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.
Liander incorporated a green zone into their office. Spacious area, natural wall decor and wooden chairs complete the jungle look.
4. Tele 2
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.
When designing an office breakout area, it's important to keep employees in mind — who are the people that will be actually using this space? Are they introverts seeking for a private corner, extroverts willing to socialize or maybe both? Understanding different personalities and their needs will help you create a tailored office design with proper third places.