In designing a workplace, the most important thing is to make sure that it’s engineered for productivity. This can mean many things, and in fact we’re still learning about how to optimize space for this purpose. Given an office carefully designed to accomplish this purpose however, the next thing to think about is how to keep employees relaxed and happy. This isn’t simply a nice thing to do, but actually plays into maximizing productivity. Happy, relaxed employees are less likely to give in to stress and more likely to put their energy to good use during the hours when they’re actually working.
It’s for this reason that some modern workplaces are providing employees with lounge-like areas where they can relax. These “chill spaces” are meant to feel separate from the actual office space, such that they allow people to disconnect during breaks or over lunch and recharge, to some extent, rather than eating or taking a few minutes off at a desk. All in all, it’s believed that providing a chill space reduces employee stress and, as a result, boosts productivity.
In addition to a chill space though, it can also be a productive idea to design more of a recreation area, where employees can achieve the same healthy disconnect from work for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, but can also have a little bit of fun and bond a little bit with co-workers. There are a few easy ways to cultivate such a space:
Game Rooms – This is maybe the most common approach, and is specifically said to increase multiple aspects that tie into productivity, including job satisfaction, morale, innovation and creativity, and more. The general idea is to set aside a reasonably large space and stock it with games that employees can play, including pool, ping-pong, foosball, video game systems, and whatever else may fit and feel appropriate. This sort of space is being designed by a lot of young companies, and all indications are that it helps people to associate offices with socialization and amusement rather than just work.
TV Rooms – Having a TV room might give some managers pause, but provided it’s not on all the time, it can be good for office unity. Having the news on in the morning as people are having coffee and settling in can be a nice way to start the day. More to the point though, there are some shared events now and then that people tend to try to watch at work anyway – mostly in the sports world. March Madness certainly comes to mind, and though it’s a single elimination tournament spanning three weekends, there is plenty of Thursday and Friday action that famously slows down workplaces. Something similar happens when events like the World Cup, Olympics, golf majors, tennis grand slams, etc. are going on. Having a TV room – or a TV in a game or rec room – allows people to take short breaks to watch together, rather than spend hours at their desks distractedly checking scores.
Creativity Rooms – This is not as much of an established concept, and it can definitely take a lot of different shapes. But given that one of the purposes of having some recreation and relaxation space is to foster creativity, there would seem to be something to the idea of having a room set aside for creative endeavors that can make for calming yet intellectually stimulating breaks from work. As for what constitutes a creativity room, it could be just about anything. There could be virtual reality headsets equipped with programs like TiltBrush for painting in VR. There might be actual crafting counters stocked with materials to fidget and create with. There might even be something like a small woodworking station, or something meditative like Bonsai trees for clipping, or sand for raking.
Any or all of the above might just provide employees with the perfect space in which to recharge for work. The trick is just finding something that suits a given office environment and collection of workers.