Category: Tips and Advice

Ideas for your Office Breakout Area

Investing in your workspace matters to your staff and can impact the success of your overall company. One important space to consider for your office is an office breakout area.

Our article will explore why you should consider the merits of a breakout space within your workplace, including:

  • What is an office breakout area?
  • What to include in an office breakout area?
  • Office breakout area ideas
  • Office breakout area furniture

A 2019 report carried out by Staples found that 68% of staff would feel more valued at work if their organisation invested in their workspace, and as Paul Zollinger-Read, former Bupa Chief Medical Officer so nicely put it “as individual happiness is linked to productivity, satisfaction, and fulfilment – why wouldn’t we invest in our spaces?”

What is an office breakout area?

An office breakout area is an area for employees to take a break from their desks and screen. Within the modern working environment, where much more of our time is spent in front of a screen, it is important for employers to not only provide a breakout area for staff but to encourage its use.  

These areas can be versatile and used to not only provide a space for staff to enjoy their lunch (the more traditional reason for creating a breakout space). Office breakout areas also create:

  • Informal meeting areas
  • Space where people can catch up on their personal ‘life admin’
  • An area to socialise with colleagues around a tea-point
  • A place to rest their eyes from the screen!

By providing a space that is more relaxed, it gives employees time for rest and rejuvenation throughout the day. Breaks like this are important, as employees can return to their desks revitalised and raring to go. Such breaks in the day can result in better productivity compared to an office where employees never leave their desks!

These areas can also function as an alternative workspace for tasks that require collaborative or creative thinking.  Sitting in a more relaxed environment alone or with a colleague, in a separate space away from general office noise, can be beneficial when brainstorming new ideas of having important discussions.

What to include in an office breakout area?

Due to the versatility of these spaces, it is important to consider the office breakout area design so it caters to everybody and works with the existing office.

The available space for your breakout area will depend on the size of your business premises and the number of staff you have. With developments in acoustic screening and pods, you will not need a huge space, particularly if you are an SME employer. The use of acoustic furniture is an ideal way of creating small breakout spaces in pockets around your offices. Pods or booths, as featured below can offer an area where several colleagues can meet, shutting out the background noise.

The acoustic winged chairs used in The Parks Trust atrium in Milton Keynes are a brilliant way of providing relaxing seating, that when you sit back, the cleverly developed wings help block out background noises.

Depending on how you want staff to use the breakout spaces will determine what you should include. As well as the acoustic seating options above, if you have the luxury of a separate room or space for your breakout area, creating different zones could be an option for you.

Office breakout area checklist

  • A tea-point or kitchen facility
  • Fuctional seating with table for either eating or meetings
  • Relaxed seating
  • One to one booths
  • Quiet working areas
  • Social Areas
  • A library
  • Charging areas (ports for technology devices)
  • Games/Chillout space

The ‘comparehemarket.com’ common room has a putting green in it to help staff relax on their break.

Office breakout area ideas

In order to transform an office space and improve employee wellbeing, morale and productivity, we have put together some office breakout area ideas from previous client projects. This small selection illustrates the different look and feel that can be created within a breakout area.

Elements that can be incorporated within these breakout spaces are outlined below.

Glass partitioning

To provide an element of separation, but to ensure light flows into the breakout space, using glass partitioning can form an attractive and practical solution.

Company branding

The breakout area can be a place to have some fun with the company branding, incorporating colour into furniture, soft furnishings and paint finishes.

Recharge rooms

Creating a sanctuary of calm among a vibrant and busy office can provide an area for staff to recharge their batteries and take a break.

Lounge area

You may find in a larger company that a lot of staff go off-site for lunch, to either a coffee shop or sandwich bar. If space allows, creating a lounge area with a coffee shop vibe can encourage staff to socialise with each other during their downtime, form better working relationships with colleagues.

Pods

These self-contained areas for smaller offices, can provide a private area to carry out work in peace, make a sensitive phone call or have a meeting with a colleague.

Office Breakout Area Furniture

Selecting furniture for your office breakout area design will depend on what you plan to include.

Types of furniture to be incorporated would ideally include:

  • Breakfast bar
  • Sofas and relaxed seating
  • Low coffee tables
  • Poufs
  • Benches

As with all office design, considerations to natural light, ventilation, and foot flow all come into play when designing a breakout area, so it is sensible to seek advice from a specialist office fit-out company when planning to incorporate this type of space into your office.

Explore our office fit out and refurbishment services today to learn more about how we can transform your space.

The Essential Guide to Planning an Office Refurbishment

As an office fit out and refurbishment company, we wanted to put an all-encompassing article together to assist our readers with all aspects of office refurbishment, using our experience and real-life case studies.

Within this article we cover the following:

  • What does an office refurbishment involve?
  • Who carries out an office refurbishment?
  • Cost of an office refurbishment
  • What does an office refurbishment company do?
  • Benefits of Office Refurbishment
  • Examples of office refurbishment
  • What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit out?

What Does an Office Refurbishment Involve?

Office refurbishment could be described as the renovation of a workspace. It is often a method of modernising, refreshing and revamping a space, not necessarily to change its function or layout, although this can form a part of the refurbishment. More likely, it is to be initiated by new branding, an increase or reduction in staff or updating the space to offer employees a better working environment.

Who Carries Out an Office Refurbishment?

Businesses who are focused on the well-being of their employees are either aware or keen to learn about how their office can help to produce a positive working environment (that may be why you are reading this article!). Job satisfaction and productivity are both key benefits to a well thought out office refit project, along with a positive impression to both stakeholders and visitors alike.

Once a need has been identified, contacting an office refurbishment specialist is paramount to producing a successful project.

Cost of an Office Refurbishment

An office refurb project can vary dramatically from simple redecoration to a full modernisation and therefore the attributed costs can vary significantly.

Elements that may be considered in an office refurbishment project are:

● Partitioning
● Lighting
● Flooring
● Joinery
● Data cabling/ AV cabling
● Breakout areas
● Reception areas
● Ceiling Refurbishment
● Suspended ceilings
● Mezzanine floors
● Suspended ceilings

As each project is unique, with the scope of works and size of the office influencing refurbishment costs, a detailed breakdown of all elements is essential and having a budget to work to is very useful. Working with an Office Refurbishment specialist will establish if your budget can be used for a basic, mid or high spec finish.

What Does an Office Refurbishment Company Do?

An office fit out and refurbishment company will work to listen and understand the needs of your project and create and deliver a design and subsequent fit out based on your needs.  

Businesses are experts in their own field, whether they offer a product or service, however, unless your company offers interior refurbishment or office refurb, you will need to seek guidance from a specialist in these areas to assist with your refurbishment project. And we exist to make your working life comfortable. 

During initial consultations, trained staff will be listening to and understanding the human side of your business, because creating your perfect office design is all about asking the right questions.   

Office refurbishment companies often have a wealth of experience and innovative skills to deliver high-quality projects that are aesthetically pleasing, whilst providing practicality to suit your everyday business needs.  

Case Study

Working with The Parks Trust in Buckinghamshire is an exemplary example of collaboration and the importance of using an office refurbishment company. As a charity who care for parks and green spaces in Milton Keynes, they were keen to use a lot of timber in their design for the collaborative workspace and break-out area. Utilising our expertise and talented craftsmen, we were able to create a stunning space in The Parks Trust’s atrium.

Ally Phillips, Senior Property manager at The Parks Trust highlighted one of the benefits she found from using an experience office refurbishment company. “Meridian were happy to provide a chain of custody of the timber required, as this was a major part of the design”.

As previously mentioned, every brief and budget are different and every client’s requirements unique to their brand and workplace environment. A one size fits all approach just would not work for providing a well-thought out and executed refurbishment project, which is where working with an experience office refurbishment company matters. We create workspaces that not only look good, but also promote wellbeing in the workplace, leading to increase productivity for your business.

Benefits of Office Refurbishment

There are many benefits for carrying out an interior refurbishment in your office and some will be specific to individual businesses. Detailed below are a selection of the more common ones.

Growth and Future-proofing

As a business expands, an office refurbishment may be generated, as teams may change in dynamic and size. This would be a good opportunity to discuss the most efficient ways of working and how space planning could assist with this, as future proofing the layout at this stage is time well spent.

Updating Furniture

Technology improvements and scientific research into the ergonomic benefits of workplace furniture is ongoing. In recent years, sit-stand desks have been advocated in many working environments and much research has been written about their benefits. Sit-stand desks have become particularly popular among millennials and some even expect one as part of their package when they start a new job. A refurbishment is an ideal opportunity to take stock of existing office furniture and explore modern options, which can help staff well-being.

Introducing new technologies

As technology changes, so often does the space. From larger server cupboards, ‘Zoom’ rooms, to considerations around remote working and the potential change of use of offices, to meeting and collaborative hubs. Embracing these developments within your refurbishment will assist with more agile working practices.

Opportunity to change the working environment

In many modern working environments staff complain about noisy spaces, making it hard to concentrate because of background noise or overbearing office lighting, lack of natural light or good ventilation. As these elements are intrinsic to creating a healthy working environment, as detailed in our article ‘How to Design a Productive Office Environment’, a refurbishment project is a perfect time to consider these factors and include them into your plans.

Creating a new identity

If your current workspace has become a bit dated or run down, this can reflect negatively on your brand, as visual impression is paramount to your corporate identity. An interior refurbishment is therefore advantageous and an opportunity to affect business progression, through staff morale and productivity, following positive investment in their working environment.

Examples of office refurbishment

A nice example of a recently carried out office refurbishment involved transforming the old library, meeting room and tea point at our client’s premises in Cambridgeshire, into an open plan staff collaboration and break-out space.

As explained throughout this article an office refurbishment can mean something different to each company. This project involved demolition, installation of new suspended ceilings, updates to lighting, decoration, glazing installation, bespoke joinery, a kitchen fit-out and fitting new flooring.

The result is a modernised workplace, utilising the space more effectively and providing staff with a working environment and break-out area, flooded with natural light and refreshing colour palette. 

A different project saw Meridian Interiors carry out a complete high-end office refurbishment, incorporating our client’s re-branding exercise, which was complemented with a new office furniture installation.

Incorporating impressive design, good products and skilled workmanship, the following elements were incorporated into the scheme; space planning, upgrading meeting areas, partitioning and screening, an operable and sliding wall installation, bespoke joinery, kitchen fit-out, tea point and break-out refurbishment, W/C refurbishments, decoration, carpet & luxury vinyl tile installation and supplying both functional and relaxed furniture.

These images show the creation of this stunning office environment.

What is the difference between an office refurbishment and an office fit out?

Office refurbishment and office fit out are often used interchangeably because they are very similar.

The key difference is that an office fit out may be completed within a new building and an office refurbishment project can be considered to be undertaken in an existing building/space.

A fit out is the process of creating an interior workspace suitable for use, involving the implementation of electrical and mechanical systems, followed by internal decoration and furniture installation. There are different levels of fit out, depending on who is developing the space, the landlord or the tenant.

The term Category A (Cat A) fit out, generally involves fitting out the core of a building, to possibly include amenity areas, staircases, corridors, lobbies or reception areas.

The term Category B (Cat B) fit outs are more reflective of the works completed in the tenants or owners demise, possibly the office or workshops where the client will operate their business.

Whatever your level of office refurbishment requirement, Meridian Interiors have the knowledge and expertise to create an amazing workspace! Discover our office refurbishment services here or contact us today to find out more.

February 26, 2019 by Sarah Glover 0 Comments

Listening to Music in the Office

So, I like listening to music while I am working, as do my Meridian colleagues. You’ll often hear us humming along to our favourite tunes while we are working. It seems common place up and down the country and within different industries for music to be on in the workplace; from a mechanic’s garage, to a modern marketing consultancy’s office, to the operating theatre in a hospital…. but have you ever stopped to think why so many of us like listening to music while we are at work?

The Science Bit!

An article ‘How music affects your productivity’ looks into the value of listening to music while carrying out repetitive tasks. It appears to conclude that if we are carrying out recurring or immersive tasks, music can be useful, as it can actually relieve us from the monotony of carrying out certain tasks.

The Guardian explores whether the types of music we listen to is important and there appear to be mixed results. There has been some research into the level of syncopation within a piece of music but overall it would seem that the type of music we like to listen to, when we are at work, really comes down to our personal preference.

It could also be that listening to more uplifting tunes, while at work, helps to improve the mood. This may therefore mean that having the radio on in the office may be fruitful, as it will probably play tunes that are acceptable to most personal tastes. So it may be that we are all on to something here, the only problem is how are we going to agree what to listen to!

Maybe, the future, will look more like this, with individuals plugged in to their own headphones, listening to their own music, to get into their work.

The benefits of encouraging staff to use breakout areas

Legally, people employed in the UK are entitled to 20 minutes of rest in a six-hour workday. Staff and employees alike are encouraged to use breakout areas to recuperate and de-stress. However, many workers state they don’t always use that 20 minutes, with some not taking a break at all! A proper Office Refurbishment & fit-out service can help not only improve creativity and wellbeing, it can also improve productivity: helping that all-important bottom line.

An improved overall wellbeing

Staff need to take time and recharge during a regular workday. Stress and resulting health concerns like anxiety and stiffness are avoided by using breakout areas for nutrition and pressure relief. Taking breaks regularly throughout the workweek is a good habit to adopt, promoting self-care. This has enormous benefits for a person’s physical and psychological health. According to Bupa, their survey of 2000 employees shows 30% of workers who skip lunch felt ill by the afternoon. A further 40% claimed dampened productivity and 52% state low mood. Therefore, taking breaks are important in both physical and psychological aspects.

Moreover, detaching the eyes from a glaring computer screen for a while helps eyesight, reducing headaches. Moving away from the desk and correcting posture lessens the impact of the common slouched sitting position. Sedentary behaviour is lessened, helping negate risks such as musculoskeletal discomfort, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and cancer.

A productive working environment

Working hard doesn’t directly correlate to high productivity. This misconception occurs due to employers’ attitudes and the rat race to securing a bonus or promotion. Confinement to a desk without sufficient down time and nutrition intake reduces productivity, despite spending longer on tasks. This suggests taking a break at work is imperative for getting stuff done! Be it a lunch/smoke break, they boost productivity, psychological wellbeing and performance.

In fact, stress, anxiety and poor performance stem from overworked staff. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interests to encourage staff to use breakout areas to enhance performance and job satisfaction.

Encourage breaks; exploit the tremendous benefits by revamping the breakout area with our quality Office Design. The ideal retreat is essential for a needed desk break. Encourage colleagues to break for lunch and discuss the benefits of doing so. Most importantly, lead by example and take a break yourself!