HR & Management

Why the break room is productive for business

4 min read

09 December 2015

As we move into the final quarter of 2015, the UK’s productivity gap is still a problem facing many businesses.

According to insights gathered by Office Depot UK, a properly managed break room facility can provide multiple business benefits including raising productivity levels, increasing revenue and boosting staff well-being.

Between June and April 2015, output per hour in the UK increased by 0.9 per cent. Despite this being the biggest quarter rise in productivity for four years and although progress is being made, there is still a huge challenge ahead for the government and businesses to close the UK’s productivity gap. 

In terms of the bigger picture, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that UK businesses are still immersed in an ongoing productivity problem, with the UK’s average output per hour being 20 per cent lower than other developed countries such as the US, Germany and France.

While a company’s output and productivity is influenced by a number of variables such as staff motivation, the efficiency of working practices and supply management, now is the time for businesses to address the suitability of the working environment for employees head-on. 

Many business leaders often overlook the importance of the working environment itself and how it can be scrutinised to improve productivity. Introducing areas such as a break room can have several benefits for business performance both operationally and financially.

Two thirds of workers admit they do not take the legally required 20 minute break when their working day exceeds six hours and it shouldn’t come as a surprise how a short uninterrupted break can help increase a worker’s daily output. By offering a separate facility where staff feel they can move away from their “working parameters”, this not only encourages employees to take a break but it also has the potential to improve concentration, promote well-being and increase job satisfaction.

The space should be seen as multi-purpose and may even be turned into a place for idea sharing and holding short meetings as an alternative to the typical boardroom-style surroundings of gathering around a table. People’s greatest ideas often come when they move out of their normal working environment. By providing employees with a space in which they feel more comfortable, this brings out the best in people.

Business owners need to approach productivity from a product, service and process point of view, and not just focus on how productive individual workers are. 

Output and productivity are measured by the amount produced by a company per hour against the costs required to keep the business running. The more efficient the organisation is, the greater the output.

In order to boost profit margins and offset against operating costs, the break room also offers a chance for businesses to create a new revenue stream and combat against the growing trend of a “coffee shop culture”, where staff are turning to the high street in pursuit of higher quality drinks. In order to prise staff away from coffee shops back to the office break room or cafeteria, businesses need to pitch the right price point for hot drinks and ensure that there is also a selection of quality food and snacks on offer.

To create a more attractive in-house offering, this means installing more than just a hot water dispenser and providing lattes, cappuccinos and other flavoured drinks.

Nigel Crunden is business specialist at Office Depot UK.

To find out how to improve your business output and utilise the break room more effectively, Office Depot has created a downloadable guide for businesses.

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